American painter Lawton Silas Parker began his formal art training by winning an amateur youth contest in 1886. He was able to leave his Nebraska farm life behind and head to Chicago where he studied under John Vanderpoel. He then headed to Paris where he was enrolled in the Academie Julian from 1889 to 1890, and his work was accepted at the Paris Salon.
He would lead a restless life from this time forward, alternating between studying and teaching in Europe and the United States, he would work in St. Louis, Chicago and New York and open a school of his own in Paris before he headed to Giverny in 1902 and made the acquaintance of several important American painters, including Guy Rose, Frederick Frieske and Richard Miller, with whom he would eventually exhibit in New York. The group would occasionally refer to themselves as the "Luminists" for their use of atmosphere, light and clouds in their works.
Once in Giverny he settled into the en plein air style of painting and became a firm advocate of Impressionism. Though he had worked a great deal in portraiture and landscape, once he began to employ the Impressionist style in his work he tended to create detailed figure scenes. He continued to exhibit throughout his career, and it was at this time that he became the first American to win the gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1913.
He remained an "expatriate" in France until the beginning of World War II, when he had to make a daring escape from the Nazi regime. His studio and home in Giverny were destroyed along with much of his life's work.
He settled in Pasadena, California where he lived for the rest of his life. His works are in the collections of several major museums.