Chez Monet
John Leslie Breck (American, 1860–99). Chez M. Monet, 1888, oil on canvas, 18 x 22 inches. Private Collection

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John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist

Jan 23, 2022 - Mar 27, 2022

Presented by: Bank of America, with additional support provided by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and The Mint Museum Auxiliary.

Organized by: The Mint Museum

John Leslie Breck (1860–1899) is credited as one of the first American artists to adopt Impressionism and to nurture its acceptance in the United States. With more than seventy of Breck’s finest paintings presented, John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist is the first large-scale, museum-organized retrospective of the artist’s work since his memorial exhibition in 1899 and includes many works which have not been on public view since his death.

After training in the United States, Germany, and in Paris, Breck visited the town of Giverny for the first time with a small group of American expatriates in 1887. He soon befriended Claude Monet and his family, who had settled there four years prior, and began his conversion to Impressionism. Breck played an instrumental role in Giverny’s establishment as an American art colony, and his canvases from this period are loosely brushed and filled with light and color. Returning briefly to the United States between 1890 and 1891, Breck was among the first to exhibit his new Impressionist paintings here and to use the style to depict the American landscape. He soon became known as one of the leaders of the movement in this country—a reputation that was enhanced by the work he did on a second trip to Giverny in 1891, a series of well-received exhibitions in Boston in the mid-1890s, and his final series of paintings of Venice after a trip there in 1897.

In the wake of Breck’s untimely death in 1899 at the age of thirty-eight, his colleague John Henry Twachtman, one of Impressionism’s American leaders, called Breck “a great genius” and the artist who had “started a new school of painting in America.” Despite the high regard in which Breck was ultimately held in Boston art circles and by his contemporaries at the end of his life, he has largely flown under the art historical radar since his passing. John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist presents a special opportunity to see for the first time so many of Breck’s groundbreaking paintings gathered in one place, to dive into the lush world of his landscapes, to reflect upon your own relationship with the natural world, and to consider anew Breck’s rich legacy.