A student of Impressionist painters John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir, Ernest Lawson earned a reputation for his unique application of the Impressionist style to urban imagery. Harlem River, New York is one of numerous canvases painted by Lawson during the first two decades of the 20th century that features this subject. Like other Impressionist artists, most famously Claude Monet, Lawson repeatedly returned to the same subject to present it from different angles, at different times of day, and in different seasons. A common feature of Lawson’s work is the juxtaposition of the natural and urban worlds. Here, the puffs of smoke from the tugboat are set against the billowing clouds in the sky, while the solid blocky forms of the buildings upon the river’s banks stand in contrast to the delicate tracery of the branches of the trees in the foreground.
Although Lawson’s use of the Impressionist style put him at odds with the broader brushwork and darker tones employed by other members of the Ashcan School, his peers looked favorably upon his embrace of the world around him as well as the tactile quality of his technique.
Place object was created: United States
oil paint, canvas
Measurements: height: 39 inches width: 45 inches canvas height: 30.25 inches canvas width: 36.25 inchesGift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary and Seats and Backs, Inc. 1979.38
Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN