Executed in 1891.
Of the many American painters drawn to the village of Giverny, Theodore Robinson made the most lasting and meaningful contribution to American Impressionism. Professor W.H. Gerdts writes, "The most significant of the Givernois was Theodore Robinson. Though he died quite young, his work received far more critical notice in America than that of any other artist during Impressionism's crucial formative years there...his painting was stronger, more varied and at its best perhaps more beautiful than that of many of his contemporaries." (American Impressionism, New York, 1984, p. 66)
Painted in 1891 at the height of his abilities, Springtime reflects the finest qualities of this painter's highly personal vision of American Impressionism. Whereas Robinson's pictures from the late 1880s and earlier were more tightly rendered, it was not until 1888 when he moved next door to Claude Monet that he fully adopted the Impressionist aesthetic. By the early 1890s he had liberated his paint application to create more painterly, livelier surface qualities clearly evident in Springtime.
The palette Robinson chose for Springtime is highly refined and sophisticated. The predominant colors of green and yellow with touches of pink and red synthesize with the clouds, bathed in a pinkish hue. Overall the composition has a harmonious quality that is characteristic of American Impressionism at its finest.
Unlike many American painters who quickly converted to the Impressionist aesthetic, Robinson continued to probe the nature of Impressionism until his early death in 1896. He wrote in his diary in 1894, three years after completing Springtime, "I am impressed with the necessity of synthesis, and ignoring of petty details, and seeing things du grand coté. And this is not incompatible with modernité and the true plein-air feeling...Altogether the possibilities are very great for the moderns, but they must draw without ceasing or they will 'get left', and with the brilliancy and light of real out-of-doors, combine the austerity, the sobriety, that has always characterized good painting." Springtime represents the requirements of a good painting described by Robinson, the necessity of synthesis, in which he combined sound draftsmanship with flawless observation of light and radiant color to create a painterly composition of enduring beauty.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work being compiled by Ira Spanierman and Sona Johnston.