To John Henry Twachtman, the ultimate goal of painting was to capture the feeling and atmosphere of a single moment on canvas. With quick and spontaneous brushstrokes, Twachtman translated the light and color of a single place and moment in time to his viewers.
Like most American Impressionists, Twachtman spent his early career in Europe, where he had a chance to examine European masterpieces while enjoying the camaraderie of other young American artists who were studying there at the same time. However, it was not until Twachtman settled in Greenwich, Connecticut in the late 1880s, that his mature style unfolded. The artist's farm in Greenwich brought about a burst of inspired production. "Unlike French Impressionists, who traveled from one scenic village to another in search of the picturesque, Twachtman found ample inspiration on his own seventeen-acre farm on Round Hill Road. Again and again he painted his simple farmhouse, with the new portico Stanford White designed for it; the brook just beyond, which cascaded over the rocks and formed a hidden moss-rimmed pool; the white lattice bridge he built at the head of the pool; and even the cabbage patch he and his wife had in their garden" (Connecticut and American Impressionism, Storrs, Connecticut, 1980, p. 174)
In this depiction of his own house nestled among the rolling hills of Greenwich, Twachtman incorporates quick, spontaneous brush strokes, with subtle and strong colors. The hues of the foliage are green tinged with warmer tones, indicating that Twachtman may have painted this work in late summer. The rocks in the foreground are bathed in strong sunlight, leading the viewer to feel the essence of this warm afternoon. The house conforms to the contours of the hill, inconspicuously rising in the distance without distracting the viewer's attention from the handsome landscape. Indeed, because the artist felt such affinity for his land, Twachtman's paintings of the area have taken on exceptional significance. "Twachtman undertook a full investigation of Impressionism in the many paintings he executed on his property on Round Hill Road in Greenwich beginning in the early 1890s. Indeed, just as Monet chose to paint repeatedly the same objects or scenes from his house and garden in Giverny, so did Twachtman on his farm in Greenwich. His house, seen from all angles, the small brook that ran through the property, and a waterfall and pool that were formed by the brook became the most frequent themes in his paintings from 1890 to 1902." (W.H. Gerdts, Masterworks of American Impressionism from the Pfeil Collection, Alexandria, Virginia, 1992, p. 252)
The Artist's House Through the Trees attests to why Twachtman's delightful renditions of the Connecticut countryside hold a special place among other landscapes by members of the Ten, they are at once intimate and personal, yet universal in their appeal.
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonn of Twachtman's work being compiled by Ira Spanierman and Dr. Lisa Peters.