Americans in Paris, 1860–1900

October 24, 2006–January 28, 2007

Summers in the Country: Giverny

Many American painters were drawn to Giverny, the ancient Norman farming hamlet on the Seine, about fifty-three miles northwest of Paris, where Claude Monet had settled in April 1883. John Singer Sargent, the only American known to have been acquainted with Monet before traveling to the village, apparently visited in mid-summer 1885. Willard Metcalf, who is said to have discovered Giverny by chance in 1885, made his first extended visit in September 1886 and was joined there by several Americans in summer 1887. As early as October 1887 a writer for Art Amateur could marvel: "Quite an American colony has gathered, I am told, at Givernay [sic]. . . . A few pictures just received from these young men show that they have all got the blue-green color of Monet's impressionism and 'got it bad.'" Although Monet set an artistic example for the Americans at Giverny, he avoided most of them and even threatened in March 1892 to sell his house and leave the village because of the attention two of them were paying to his stepdaughters. Giverny would continue to flourish as a rural retreat for American painters until about 1915.