Joseph Rodefer DeCamp became a well-known member of the now famous group, "The Ten." DeCamp, Frank W. Benson, Thomas Dewing, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Robert Reid, Edward Simmons, Edmund Tarbell, John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir made up the group of Boston painters. "The Ten" exhibited only their finest paintings and drawings and within the decade became the most sought-after painters in America. Although known for the majority of his career for his execution of portraits and figural outdoor works, DeCamp's landscapes laid the groundwork for his later successes. The present work, September Afternoon is one such landscape that propelled him into the forefront of both the Boston and American Impressionist scene in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
After studying at the Royal Academy in Munich in 1878 under Frank Duveneck, DeCamp eventually returned to America in 1883. The following year, he moved to Boston and taught at Wellesley College and at the School of Drawing and Painting at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. It was while teaching in Boston that DeCamp tutored Edith Franklin Baker of Medford, Massachusetts, eventually marrying her in 1892, with Edmund Tarbell as witness. In 1894, DeCamp and his wife moved to a farm in West Medford and it was during these early Boston years that landscapes dominated his oeuvre.
Due to a fire in DeCamp's studio in 1904, many of his early works from the 1880s and 1890s were lost, and little documentation exists due to the artist's preference for privacy. According to Ulrich Heiesinger, "In the early 1890s DeCamp was named with Robert Vonnoh as belonging to the most advanced of outdoor painters and as a painter 'in the Monet advance.'" (Impressionism in America--The Ten American Painters, Munich and New York, 1991, p. 236) It wasn't until 1894, with the inclusion of five paintings at a St. Botolph Club exhibition, that DeCamp became recognized as a leading member of the Boston Impressionists with the likes of Tarbell, Benson, Theodore Wendel, Lilla Cabot Perry and others.
According to Lauren Buckley, "Annisquam, Lanesville, and Folly Cove on Cape Ann were often the subjects of DeCamp's vibrant landscape of the early to mid-1890s, which, judging by their critical reception, became increasingly Impressionistic as the decade advanced...It was DeCamp's plein air work that first caught the attention of the national press and placed him among the avant-garde painters of his day. Even the French critic S.C. de Soissons, who in 1894 expressed his surprise at the quality of the arts in America, noticed DeCamp, remarking that he has 'lately made much progress, and paints pictures vibrating with air and light.'" (Ten American Painters, Spanierman Gallery, New York, 1990, p. 41)