John Leslie Breck


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Painter. Among the earliest American impressionists, he painted vibrant, light-filled landscapes indebted to Monet's example. A Bostonian, he frequently depicted the local area, the shore north of the city, or the nearby New Hampshire mountains with careful attention to seasonal effects. Born during a Pacific sea voyage, he spent his early childhood in San Francisco but moved with his family to Boston in 1865. He traveled in 1877 to Munich, where he studied at the Royal Academy until 1880, when he went to Antwerp for an additional year's study. Following his return to Boston, he produced darkly toned, painterly still lifes, often incorporating flowers. In 1886 he sailed for Paris, where he worked at the Académie Julian. The following year in Giverny he became well acquainted with Monet and quickly mastered an impressionist style, although he sometimes worked in a more conservative, Barbizon-inspired mode. He returned to Boston during the summer of 1890 but subsequently painted again at Giverny in 1891. In notable emulation of his mentor there, he painted a series of fifteen identically composed studies of grainstacks, investigating light effects at different times of day. Soon after, he departed for England, where he painted the countryside of Kent that fall and into the next year. In 1896 he went to Venice, where he remained for more than a year. Breck resided in the Auburndale neighborhood of Newton, a Boston suburb, from the mid-1890s and died in Boston.

Subjects: Art.

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