Europeans & Americans Abroad; Philadelphia Collection 73; September 2004
Ernest Lawson, n.a.
(American, born Canada, 1873–1939)
Twilight in Winter (Moret-sur-Loing), 1894
Oil on canvas, 30 × 25 1/4 inches
Signed and dated at lower left: “E Lawson/94”
PROVENANCE: Mrs. Robert M. Leslie, Philadelphia
EXHIBITED: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Sixty-Ninth Annual Exhibition (1899), as Twilight in Winter (no. 41)

Ernest Lawson painted Twilight in Winter (Moret-sur-Loing) in 1894, a year that was crowded with events that would have lasting significance for the young artist’s career. Following early study with John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902) at the Art Students League in New York and at Cos Cob, Connecticut, Lawson, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. By 1894, he had met Alfred Sisley (1839–1899). Lawson later wrote about his encounter with the retiring French Impressionist:
When I was working out of doors at Moret in France, I saw Sisley the Impressionist painter walking nearby. As I had met him before, I stopped and asked him if he would criticize my effort. Although he did not want to, having a horror of artists, he could not very well refuse. All he said was, after looking over the canvas and then taking in my appearance, “Put more paint on your canvas and less on yourself!”1
It seems likely that Twilight in Winter was painted before Sisley’s advice had its full effect, for it is rather thinly painted and echoes Twachtman’s interest in capturing the effects of hazy atmosphere. Soon Lawson would learn to apply his paints more heavily and broadly: his later paintings are known for their thick impasto. Later in 1894, two of Lawson’s paintings, Evening Sunlight (possibly the painting illustrated here) and Morning, were accepted for exhibition at the Salon des Artistes Français. Also in 1894, Lawson married Ella Holman back in the United States; by the time their daughter Margaret was born later that year, the couple had settled again in Paris. In 1895 Lawson returned to the United States, where he became closely associated with the urban Realists often known as the Ashcan School or The Eight. Lawson’s later paintings are not so easily classified, but are mostly straightforward Impressionistic responses to the landscapes he saw wherever he traveled. Lawson was a member of numerous art organizations, including the American Association of Painters and Sculptors—of which he was a founder—which organized the Armory show in New York in 1913. He exhibited extensively throughout the United States, especially in New York, and his work can be found in many important public and private collections of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American painting.


1. Quoted in Henry and Sidney Berry-Hill, Ernest Lawson, American Impressionist (Leigh-on-Sea, U.K.: F. Lewis Publishers, 1968), p. 22.

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