John Henry Twachtman, ‘Mother and Child’, 1893, de Young Museum

John Henry Twachtman (American, 1853-
1902), “Mother and Child,” ca. 1893. Oil on
canvas. 30 1/8 x 25 1/8 in. Fine Arts
Museums of San Francisco, gift of the
family of Jacob Stern from his collection

Image rights: Image courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

About John Henry Twachtman

A genius of paint handling, Tonalist landscape artist John Twachtman spent his career experimenting with new and often radical ways of manipulating the surfaces of his canvases to express a subjective reverence for the land and its seasons. Twachtman’s early slashing and tenebrous palette were derived from training in Munich and inspiration from fellow Cincinnati expatriate Frank Duveneck, but would give way to a more nuanced, feathery brushwork by the mid 1880s, when he painted some of his early masterworks influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s ethereal aesthetics. These French and Dutch landscapes were unparalleled in American art for their refinement and elegance of design, no less their rarefied handling of tone and hypnotic intensity. Twachtman’s elegiac winter landscapes in particular spoke to the mystical, transcendentalist spirituality of nature. He died young and was greatly mourned by the professional art world.

American, 1853-1902, Cincinnati, Ohio