An Ohio Impressionist, with a Tonalist palette, Luther Emerson Van Gorder would rise far above his post-Civil War upbringing, attaining a brief measure of international regard for his works.
He had begun working for the Toledo, Ohio newspaper "The Blade" in 1886, but soon moved to New York to attend the Art Students League and study under William Merritt Chase.
It was Chase who played the strongest role in the development of Van Gorder's style, introducing him to Impressionist concepts which he employed in his broad Ohio landscapes. Early on he demonstrated remarkable skills as a colorist, and this came into play in his later career when he began to paint the flower markets of Paris.
After studying in New York, he journeyed to Paris where he studied under Charles Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran, and his work began to be compared to some of Impressionism's most famous painters, including Degas. He remained in the city until 1896 and then returned to America.
He stayed in New York for a few years before heading back to Ohio in 1903. Many historians believe this move effectively ended his climb to fame. Once removed from the "hubs" of the art scene he faded from common knowledge, though he did enjoy a strong local and regional reputation for his work.
His skills as a colorist and in composition never faded, and his street scenes, landscapes, illustrations and market scenes are among the finest of the American Impressionist movement.
He exhibited at some of the major venues of his age, including the Paris Salon and the National Academy of Design in New York. His paintings are in the collections of the Dayton Art Institute and the Toledo Museum of Art, both in his home state of Ohio.