Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858 - 1925) American
Oil on Board
Measure 12"in H x 19"in W and 22 1/2"in H x 29 1/2"in W with frame
Known for: Impressionist landscape, coastal and genre-figure painting
Biography: Willard Metcalf was the only child born to a blue collar, New England family that frequently moved throughout Maine and Massachusetts, finally settling in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts in 1871. By 1874, Metcalf began to produce his first paintings and attended night classes at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. In 1877, he won a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In February 1882, Metcalf organized an auction of his art works in order to raise money for European travel. The money earned from the auction, along with funds he had saved from illustration assignments, enabled the young artist to set sail for Paris in September 1883. He remained abroad for more than five years, studying at the Academie Julian and traveling extensively throughout Europe and North Africa. After returning to the United States in 1888, Metcalf finally settled in New York in 1890, earning an income as a portraitist, illustrator, and teacher. Although Metcalf's life in the late 1890s was marked by "fitful person relationships and [artistic] unproductiveness" (Ulrich Hiesinger, Impressionism in America, p. 24), he counted among his friends such artists as J. Henry Twachtman, Robert Reid, and Edward Simmons. In 1898, Metcalf was one of the founding members of The Ten, a group of artists who rebelled against the tight strictures of the National Academy of Design. Metcalf managed eventually to get his problems under control, and enjoyed a long, successful career, despite the occasional re-emergence of bouts of financial troubles, romantic conflicts, and heavy drinking. One indication of his reputation during his lifetime was the sale of Benediction for thirteen-thousand dollars, then the highest price ever paid for a painting by a living American artist. In 1925, a year after the failure of his second marriage, Metcalf suffered a fatal heart attack.