Painting: The Quiet American

John Henry Twachtman began his artistic career painting milkmaids and ruined castles on window shades. By the time of his death in 1902, at the age of 49, he had one of the most unshaded visions in U.S. painting. Twachtman observed nature directly, capturing its twinkling textures in a low key as delicately as Debussy études.

Twachtman, who studied in Munich and Paris, returned to relative obscurity in the U.S., averaged only $500 a painting. To raise his family, Twachtman had to paint yards of sky on the cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburg in Chicago, sketch for Scribner's magazine,...

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