Mostly self-taught, Tonalist landscape painter John Francis Murphy would combine both classic and modern theories of landscape painting to achieve remarkable effects in his works. Though his subject matter is often considered limited in its scope, he is noted for his ability to accurately record the subtleties of the natural world.
Like the French Barbizon school painters that he admired, Murphy would seek to capture the overall atmosphere of the scene, and would tend to romanticize nature. He would not seek to capture a realistic scene however, employing loose brushwork and a Tonalist palette to create his landscapes.
Born in New York in 1853, Murphy would exhibit for the first time in 1876 where his submission to the National Academy of Design was accepted. A few years later he was made an associate of the Academy and elected a full member in 1887. Additionally, he was a member of the Society of American Artists a bit later in his career, as well an active member in many other artistic societies.
He won many awards and honors during his lifetime, including an Inness medal and two medals from the Society of American Artists. His paintings are in several major museums in the United States including the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.