Theodore Earl Butler
1861-1936 | American
Plum Tree in the Artist's Garden
Signed and dated "T. Butler '34" (lower right)
Oil on canvas
Theodore Earl Butler was a leading figure of the American Impressionist movement, and this oil on canvas is an important example of his mature style. The vibrantly hued work represents the culmination of the painter's lifelong experimentation with light and color, revealing Butler's fully developed impressionist technique. Furthermore, its unique brushwork and vibrant palette demonstrate Butler's painterly dialogue with post-impressionism, a style that he experimented with during the last years of his career.
The stunning work is filled with brilliant light and vibrant color, as Butler captures a scene of his garden in full bloom. The vitality of the plum tree and flowers that dominate the composition are perfectly conveyed, though the artist utilizes a suggestive, almost pointillist application of paint. The result is a scene that feels both energetic and spontaneous, as Butler pushes the work nearly to the point of abstraction. His highly dynamic style is firmly within the artistic tradition of the French Impressionists, while also revealing the artist's own distinctive modernity.
Born in Ohio in 1861, Theodore Earl Butler spent most of his life and career living abroad in France. He studied briefly under William Merritt Chase at the Art Student's League in New York before traveling to Paris in the 1880s. Once there, he entered the famed Académie Colarossi and Académie Julian, and won his first honorable mention at the Paris Salon in 1888.
That same year, Butler traveled to Giverny, where he became an intimate friend of Claude Monet. He became so close to the family that he eventually married the famed French Impressionist’s step-daughter, Suzanne Hoschedé. Though relatively unknown early in his career, by the turn of the century, Butler was among the most celebrated American artists working in France. He had several one-man shows in New York City, including a 1900 exhibition at the famed Paul Durand-Ruel gallery. In 1913, he contributed two works to the Armory Show in New York, and became a founding member of the Society of Independent Artists in 1916. Today, the artist's works can be found in important collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Musée des Impressionnismes (Giverny), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Canvas: 25 7/8" high x 21 1/2" wide
Frame: 34 7/8" high x 30 3/4" wide