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Julien Alden Weir

(1852 - 1919)

The youngest of sixteen children of Robert W. Weir, artist and art instructor at West Point Military Academy, J. Alden Weir became one of the leading early American Impressionists. However, his art education began with training in the traditional basic styles and methods from his father. Throughout his career subject matter included landscape, still lifes, and portraits. Although his landscapes increasingly reflected his adoption of Impressionism, his portraits and still lifes remained more realistic and conservative.

Weir also completed murals including ones in the Liberal Arts Building of the 1893 Chicago Exposition. They received much acclaim, but mural painting was not a specialty for him.

At 18, he enrolled at the National Academy School in New York. From 1873 to 1877, he studied in Europe, part of the time in Paris with Jean Leon Gerome at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. From Gerome, he learned much about classical figure painting and the modeling of forms. Weir also had much admiration for the Old Masters such as Frans Hals and Hans Holbein.

Friendship with Jules Bastien-Lepage, French plein-aire painter, encouraged Weir to work directly from nature, which became a modification of influences of the Beaux Arts training he was receiving at the Ecole. It was also the beginning of his path to Impressionism, although when first exposed to this revolutionary style, he was highly disapproving.

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