Willard Metcalf: Thawing Brook (Winter Shadows), 1911

A perfect Metcalf painting for a sunny winter day in the aftermath of the recent “blizzardcaine,” Storm Nemo.

Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858–1925) is normally grouped with the American Impressionists, but Metcalf has always been one of my favorite American painters precisely because he never shaped his paintings to fit the mold of conventional painterly “Impressionist” brushwork as practiced by his contemporaries like Childe Hassam. Like Sargent, Homer, and Aikins, Metcalf was an American original, shaped and educated by his exposure to European peers, but never so in thrall to European ideas that he couldn’t see the landscape “straight,” and paint it with a keen eye to what he actually saw in front of him.

Thawing Brook (Winter Shadows), 1911. Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 29 3/16”. The Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut.

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