Alden Weir-also known as Julian Alden Weir and J. Alden Weir-was a member of a group of artists who broke with their peers during the late 1800's to form "The Ten" who exhibited their art together.
J. Alden Weir would transition from an academic painter into a plein air painter similar to the French Barbizon artists and finally adopt an Impressionist style for his landscape work.
J. Alden Weir studied under his father, well known painter Robert W. Weir, and would then head to the National Academy School in New York in 1870. From there he would travel to France where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Jean Leon Gerome, and where he made friends with Jules Bastien-Lepage who encouraged him to take his work outdoors. It was at this point in Weir's career that his works began to stray from their formal style and assume some of the characteristics of the Barbizon school. Upon his return to America, his painting style continued to diverge from the norm and his still life and landscapes were continuing to evolve towards Impressionism, though his portraiture maintained its more classic form.
In the 1880s, Weir married and purchased a large farm in Connecticut which would serve as his most frequent subject for the rest of his life. He did maintain a New York studio where he taught and did portrait commissions. He was also active in several associations, and was a founding member of the Society of American Artists in 1877, but twenty years later he would become one of "The Ten" who had broken away from the Society as a reaction against their conservative exhibitions. Towards the end of his life he also participated in the organization of the 1913 Armory Show in New York, which introduced modern art to the American public, and by which time he was considered an American Impressionist.
His paintings are in dozens of museums and the Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition of his work in 1924. Weir was a member of the Cos Cob art colony which was situated near Greenwich, Connecticut. He painted in the Impressionist style. He was born into the world of art, his father being a professor who taught drawing and his older brother an accomplished Hudson River School landscapist.
He was educated domestically and abroad, at the National Academy of Design ca. 1870 and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1873, respectively. His first experiences with the Impressionism with which he is associated were in France and, initially, he was horrified by it. By 1891, he was an Impressionist painter.
Alden Weir produced paintings and etchings. His painting style is a diverse one, sometimes embracing the strong colors of Impressionism and, at other times, having a more somber execution that is more accurately described as Tonalism. His subjects included both landscapes and figurative subjects but he is more widely-known for his landscape work.
Weir, also served as president of the National Academy of Design.