Monet's Influence on Theodore Robinson

Theodore Robinson was an American artist from Irasburg, Vermont. He studied briefly in Chicago, visited New York in 1874 and traveled to Paris in 1876 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He returned to the United States in 1879. In these early years Robinson painted in a realistic, but loosely brushed style. In 1884 he returned to France and moved to Giverny.


At Giverny Robinson met Monet. In 1888 he moved next door and the two of them were close friends. Robinson shifted towards traditional Impressionism under Monet's influence. A number of American and European artists had moved to Giverny to be near Monet and his famous subjects, but none became as close to him as Robinson. Monet would advise Robinson in his paintings and asked Robinson's opinion on his own work. His diary and letters show that Robinson frequently visited Monet and discussed art with him. Robinson painted en plein air in the surrounding countryside. He would paint the landscape and oftentimes he'd paint figures against it like in La Debacle.

He left for America in 1892 where he got a teaching job at the Brooklyn Art School. He continued to paint in the Impressionist style. In the style of Monet he painted a series of boat scenes at the Riverside Yacht Club. February 1896 he wrote to Monet about returning to Giverny, but he didn't get the opportunity. He died that April, at the age of 43 of an acute asthma attack.

Yet, Robinson had his own legacy. His art is not simply an imitation of Monet's work; it contains the impressions of Robinson that belong to him alone. Robinson really brought Impressionism to American artists and established the style in which they would do their artwork. One marked difference between American and Monet's French Impressionism is the Americans' frequent use of figures in their works.

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