Ernest Lawson

Currently on View in K205
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Here pastel colors contrast with patches of darker hues to convey a cool soggy day.

April may depict a stretch of the Harlem River in Washington Heights, New York.

Lawson was the only Impressionist and pure landscapist among The Eight, a group of artists who opposed traditional styles of painting.

Urban Realism

Born in Nova Scotia, Ernest Lawson spent his youth in Ontario. He joined his physician father in Kansas City and began studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. Lawson traveled to Mexico with his father working as a draftsman and studying at the Santa Clara Art Academy and then went to New York to enroll at the Art Students League. Lawson spent time at the summer school of Cos Cob, Connecticut where he began painting out of doors. He travelled to France to continue his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian and shared a studio with Somerset Maugham, who used Lawson as the prototype for Frederic Lawson in his novel, “Of Human Bondage.” After returning to New York, Lawson settled in Washington Heights, an area he painted numerous times. Lawson continued traveling, spending time in France, Spain and in New England painting in Cos Cob, Connecticut and Cornish, New Hampshire. He taught at The Art Institute in Kansas City and Broadmoor Academy. Lawson was one of the members of “The Eight” who exhibited at Macbeth Gallery in 1908. He was one of the three artists in this group who is not considered an Ashcan School painter, because of his focus on impressionist landscapes rather than the urban realist subjects that fascinated his fellow artists.

April may depict a stretch of the Harlem River near Lawson’s home in Washington Heights, New York. Lawson had studied with American Impressionist John Twachtman and adopted his practice of building up paint in a thick crust of interwoven cover. The pastel yellow-greens, blue-greens and pinks contrast with a few patches of dark purple and blue and ably convey the look of a cool, soggy day in early spring.


Michael Owen, Valerie Leeds, Andrew Thompson. The Eight: Exhibition of Arthur B. Davis, William Glackens; Robert Henri; Ernest Lawson; George Luks; Maurice Prendergast; Everett Shinn; John Sloan, New York: Owen Gallery, 2002. ASIN: B000LL6PGQ

Object Information

Ernest Lawson
creation date
about 1915
oil on canvas
20 x 24 in.
27 x 31 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Mrs. John N. Carey
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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