BRECK, John Leslie
(b. 1860, at South Pacific, d. 1899, Boston)


American painter. He was one of the first Americans to settle in Giverny with Louis Ritter (1852-1896), Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925) Blair Bruce (1859-1906), Henry Fitch Taylor (1853-1925), Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) and Thedore Wendel (1859-1932). He was invited by Dawson Dawson-Watson (1864-1939), the British born Impressionist painter to live in Giverny, the spring after the founding of the famous Impressionist colony there.

John Leslie Breck is considered the American painter responsible for introducing a new style of Impressionist painting to the United States in 1890. He was a landscape painter who absorbed both the formal aspects of Dutch Masters and also the Impressionist style and techniques of Claude Monet. The atmospheric perspective and vibrant colours seen in his landscapes of Massachusetts, Giverny, and Venice demonstrate his great talent as a landscape artist.

The son of a naval officer, Breck was born at sea (off the coast of Guam) and grew up in Massachusetts. He displayed early promise as an artist, and at the age of 18 left to study in Europe, first in Munich, and later in Paris, at the Académie Julian. His exposure to the light-filled landscape and brilliant skies of Giverny encouraged him to abandon the more somber mode of painting he developed in Munich, and to adopt an impressionistic approach. His pioneering vision, as demonstrated in his atmospheric and vibrantly colourful scenes of Giverny, Venice, and elsewhere, as well as his native Massachusetts, earned him the title "the father of American Impressionism."

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.