American, 1873–1939


“Ernest Lawson worked as a textile designer while studying at the Fine Arts Institute in Kansas City and, subsequently, the Art Students League in New York, in 1891. His teachers were John Alden Weir (1852–1919) and the Impressionist painter John Twachtman (1853–1902), whose summer school he attended in Cos Cob, Connecticut - a decisive turning-point in his artistic career. In 1893, he studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, under Laurens and Benjamin-Constant (1845–1902). He discovered the work of the Impressionists, and became one of the movement's first proponents in the USA. In France, he shared a studio with Somerset Maugham, and subsequently settled in the town of Moret-sur-Loing, on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, where he met the British painter Alfred Sisley. Preferring to paint out of doors rather than at the Académie Julian, he continued to work in Moret, and travelled south for the summer of 1893 to Martiques, west of Marseilles.

“He returned to the USA in 1894, married, and settled in France once again until 1898, when he returned in America for good. Lawson painted urban scenes in New York, and travelled to Segovia in Spain in 1916. In New York, he met the painters William Glackens (1870–1938), George Luks (1867–1933), Everett Shinn (1876–1953), John Sloan (1871–1951) and others, with whom he formed the group known as The Eight, later nicknamed the 'Ashcan School' for their realist scenes of urban low-life. Lawson’s later life was troubled: he was discouraged by what he saw as a lack of official recognition of his work, and plagued by mounting financial difficulties. Finally, his body was discovered on a beach in Miami, where he may have committed suicide.

"Lawson taught at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1926. His works feature in a number of important American private collections, including those of Duncan Phillips, Alfred Barnes and John Quinn. Lawson specialized in winter landscapes in the Impressionist style, reminiscent of the works of his masters, Twachtman and Sisley. A founder member of the 'Ashcan School', he was less committed to social realism than the other painters in the group. His cityscapes are remarkable for their treatment of color and light rather than for their subject matter as such. During and after his journey to Spain in 1916 he evolved a quite different style of landscape painting based on broad, flat areas of color. His painting became increasingly 'solid' and materialist throughout his career, following an evolution comparable to that seen in the works of Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), and culminating in the tormented, Expressionistic style of his last works.

“Two of Lawson’s Impressionist paintings were shown in Paris at the Salon of 1891. He won a silver medal in St Louis in 1904, and numerous subsequent awards. He exhibited with The Eight in 1908, at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1910, and the Armory Show (of which he was a co-organizer) in 1913. He won the Corcoran Art Prize in Washington DC in 1916.

Lawson’s work has been the subject of a number of posthumous retrospectives, inclduing: 1967, Ernest Lawson, 1873-1939, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. His work has featured in a number of group exhibitions, including: 1982, American Impressionists, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, and the Petit Palais, Paris; 2002, American Impressionism 1880–1915 (L'Impressionnisme américain 1880-1915), Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne” (Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006).

Museum Collections:
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Art Institute Chicago, Chicago, IL
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, MS
Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages, Stony Brook, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Maier Museum of Art, VA
Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT
Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
New Britain Museum of American Art, CT
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ
Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, IL
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta
Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS

Mark Murray Fine Paintings is a New York gallery specializing in buying and selling 19th century and early 20th century artwork. 

Please contact us if you are interested in selling your Ernest Lawson paintings or other artwork from the 19th century and early 20th century.