DescriptionTheodore Robinson (American, 1852-1896)
Normandy Mother and Child (Marie Trognon and Baby), 1892
Oil on canvas
22 x 18 inches (55.9 x 45.7 cm)
Signed lower left: Theo Robinson
Robinson Estate Sale, American Art Association, New York, March 24, 1898, lot 51;
Samuel T. Shaw, New York, acquired from the above;
Sale: American Art Association, New York, January 21-22, 1926, lot 43;
Ringland F. Kilpatrick, New York;
By descent to Ringland R. Kilpatrick, Jr., Rumson, New Jersey, by 1972;
Davis & Long Company, New York;
Private collection, acquired from the above.
William MacBeth, Inc., New York, "Catalogue of Paintings & Sketches by Theodore Robinson," Feburary 2-16, 1895;
The Lotos Club, New York, "Exhibition of American Paintings from the Collection of Samuel T. Shaw, Esq.," April 1904, no. 31;
Universal Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, April 30-Decmber 1, 1904, no. 648;
Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, February 20-December 4, 1915, no. 2665;
Brooklyn Museum, "Theodore Robinson, 1852-1896," Brooklyn, New York November 13, 1946-January 5, 1947, no. 158.
J. I. Baur, "Theodore Robinson, 1852-1896," exhibition catalogue, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, 1946, p. 70;
J.I. Baur, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1946, pp. 327-28, illustrated;
S. Johnston, In Monet's Light: Theodore Robinson and Giverny, Baltimore, Maryland, 2004, pp. 192, 198.
"Monet...said a good word for the Marie Trognon & bébé..."
-excerpt from the diary of Theodore Robinson, September 16, 1892
Theodore Robinson holds a unique place in art history as one of the few American artists to have painted alongside the celebrated pioneer of French Impressionism, Claude Monet, and to have forged a truly close friendship with him. The relationship powerfully impacted Robinson's development into one of America's premier Impressionists, and arguably the most French of them all. Like Monet, Robinson banished black from his palette, and more than most Americans, allowed his broken brushwork to subjugate form in the interest of pure effects of light and color.
In 1887, several years after completing his Parisian training under Carolus-Duran and Jean-Leon Gerome, Robinson decided to visit the small French farming village of Giverny, located on the Seine in Normandy, where Monet had settled four years prior. This visit, and the six extended stays to the artists' colony which followed between 1887 and 1892, proved to be a turning point in Robinson's career: he met, befriended and developed a close rapport with Monet.
This turn of events was actually quite remarkable because Monet had been taking pains to avoid the American painters who had communed around him, considering them a nuisance-but Robinson for some reason was one exception. Once the two met, they formed a lasting bond that was both affable and creative. Robinson wrote of visiting with the reclusive artist, "Monet was cordiality, itself-It's very pleasant to think I have a place in his affection." (S. Johnston, In Monet's Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny, p. 62). Indeed, Robinson was profoundly influenced by the dynamic brushwork, effervescent palette, and focus on light and color that were central to Monet's work, and wrote often in his personal diaries and letters about his frequent trips to the Master's home to discuss matters of art.
Perhaps the most traditionally French in style among his expatriate peers, Robinson adopted the techniques of his mentor, but unlike Monet, focused his attention on images of peasant life. It was during this Giverny period that Robinson would paint what are widely considered his best works, melding a classic French Impressionist style with the American-favored subject of Normandy peasants, including the present work, Normandy Mother and Child (Marie Trognon and Baby). In fact, though the figural composition was not within Monet's favored subject matter of landscapes and architecture, Robinson penned in his diary that the Master admired this work nonetheless, writing "Monet...said a good word for the Marie Trognon & bébé...but en general the figure things left him cold, He liked the motif with the scaffolding, said I must finish that." (S. Johnston, p. 192)
In the present work, Robinson's sitter is a fair-haired young working-class woman with striped bodice and blue apron whom he identified as Marie Trognon. She is shown seated with an infant in her lap, while a backdrop of emerald foliage is rendered in energetic French Impressionist brushwork and jewel-like hues. During the early 1890s, Robinson employed other Trognon family members as models, and Marie was the perfect subject, embodying the classic subject of maternité, while also providing an idealized vision of everyday peasant life. Considered among Robinson's finest efforts, this painting was chosen by the prominent art dealer William MacBeth to be included Robinson's first one-man exhibition in New York in 1895, after his return to the States.
Theodore Robinson enjoyed a rich artistic career that was cut short at the age of forty-four due to his continuous bouts of asthma, from which he suffered severely throughout his life. During his relatively brief career, Theodore Robinson created a uniquely American brand of French Impressionism, and proved to be a highly influential force in promoting this ground-breaking artistic movement in the U.S., not only through his own paintings, but also through his teaching and writing.
Estimate: $300,000 - $500,000.
Glue-lined canvas; there appears to be no major visible condition issues to note; under UV light, there appears to be no inpaint. Framed Dimensions 30.5 X 27 X 3 Inches
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