John Leslie Breck (1860-1899) was one of the founders of the American art colony at Giverny and was among the earliest American artists to embrace the Impressionist style. He was also one of the first to exhibit his Impressionist paintings in America and helped to popularize the style during his years working in the Boston area in the 1890s. Between 1887 and 1888 he and a handful of his American colleagues began visiting the French village of Giverny, where they met Claude Monet and subsequently explored the new approach to painting that Monet had helped to pioneer. Breck's canvases from this period, loosely brushed and filled with light and color, are a marked departure from his earlier works that are characterized by darker tonalities and tighter brushwork that typified the preferred style of the era. When Breck returned to America in 1892, he applied what he had learned to paintings of the New England landscape and frequently exhibited his work. Inspired by The Mint Museum's 2016 acquisition of John Leslie Breck's canvas Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing, this volume includes approximately 70 of Breck's finest works, drawn from public and private collections. Along with his scenes of Giverny and America, this volume features a selection of paintings from his sojourn in Venice in 1897. Always interested exploring in new ways of seeing the world, Breck had begun to explore aspects of post-Impressionism and Asian aesthetics in the years before his early death, at the age of 39, in 1899. This volume also features up to 36 additional comparative images, including details, photographs, and paintings by Monet and other leading American impressionists including Willard Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, Lila Cabot Perry, Childe Hassam, and Arthur Wesley Dow, presented throughout the main essays and chronology and appendices.
Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman is senior curator of American Art at The Mint Museum. Royal W. Leith is former head of the Art History department at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, Cambridge, MA. Jeffrey Brown is a scholar and longtime advocate of Breck's work. Katherine Bourguignon is associate curator at the Terra Foundation's Musée d'Art Américain, Giverny.