THEODORE EARL BUTLER
1861 - 1936
Title: “Printemps á Giverny"
Date: c. 1920
Size: Height 33” Width 38 3/4” (framed) / Height 23 ½” Width 29” (canvas)
This important American Impressionist painter was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1861. Butler studied at Marietta College in Ohio and graduated in 1882. He studied at the Art Students League in New Yorkwith William Merritt Chase,James Carroll Beckwith, Kenyon Cox and J. Alden Weir from 1884 to 1886. Butler then moved to Paris to study art. In Paris, Butler enrolled at La Grande-Chaumière, Academie Colarossi and at Academie Julian. Butler also studied under Emile Carolus Duran. Carolus opened an art studio in 1873 on Boulevard Montparnasse, called the "81". Carolus, who was also known to have given free private lessons to some painters, introduced his students to the work of Claude Monet who had moved to Giverny in 1883. Having completed his studies, Butler won an honorable mention in 1888 at the Paris Salon for a painting entitled "La Veuve", (the Widow). This painting was also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1890. In 1888 he traveled to Giverny where he befriended Claude Monet. Monet and the artists' colony at Giverny helped transform Ohio native Theodore Butler into a premiere Post-Impressionist painter.
At Giverny, Butler crafted his own style, combining Impressionist color and brushwork with Post-Impressionist abstracted, flattened forms and an emphasis on patterning. He became intimately acquainted with Monet, painted alongside him, and married his step-daughter, Suzanne Hoschedé in 1892. When Suzanne died in 1899, Butler married her sister Marthe. Monet's influence on American expatriate painters in Giverny was important, and a similarity between Butler's palette and that of Monet has been noted in the paintings of the 1890s. Equally noticeable in Butler's brushwork are qualities that align him with the work of Paul Gaugin and the Nabis artists. In his later work Butler experimented further with Fauve principles, painting landscapes in Giverny and on the Normandy coast, sometimes applying color directly from the tube to decorative ends. By the 1910s, Butler was producing landscapes with more vivid Fauve-like color.
In 1914, the Butler family moved to New York when Butler got a commission to paint mural panels for the home of William Paine. He contributed two paintings to the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, Marine and Fourteenth of July, Paris. During this period, he helped organize the Society of Independent Artists with John Sloan.
On viewing this spectacular example of Butler’s work, one can see how the artist used vibrating daubs of color to capture the hazy envelope of light found in the valley of the Seine. He certainly shared with Monet not only a common aesthetic, but also similar motifs – views of the valleys from the hills above and especially scenes along the river Seine often with willows framing its embankment. This view, possibly of Eglise Saint Sauveur near Chateau-Gaillard in Les Andelys on the Seine, can be identified with Monet’s own methodology -- the dappled sunlight and brighter colorism.
Butler exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1888 where he received a prize and at the Salon D’Automne in 1906 - 1935; Salon des Independants 1907 - 1932; Turin International Exposition 1911; and the Armory Show 1913. He also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1890 to 1917.
Today his works can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; El Paso Museum of Art; Oklahoma City Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Phoenix Art Museum and in France at the Foundation Monet – Giverny home, studio, and gardens; Musee de l’Orangerie; Musee d’Orsay and Musee Marmottan Monet.
This important example of Butler’s work is presented in pristine condition and is signed by the artist.