Influential with his work and his teaching, painter Robert William Vonnoh is known as one of the earliest American painters to bring European Impressionism to his homeland.
His career was distinguished by the remarkable number of portraits he was commissioned to paint (numbering over five hundred), by his direct experiences with Impressionism, and by his long history of teaching, including some of the next generation's most progressive artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Robert Henri.
He had trained at the Academie Julian in Paris in 1880 and studied under Boulanger and Lefebvre. Upon his return to Boston he taught briefly at the Cowles School and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. After his marriage in 1886 the two returned to France where Vonnoh made a more thorough examination of the Impressionists, whose influences appear immediately in his work of that time.
Vonnoh's "take" on Impression was a bit looser than the French school, and also relied on brilliant colors, frequently unmixed and laid on with broad strokes.
When he returned to Boston he had his first solo exhibition, and then headed to Pennsylvania to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts. At this point he demonstrated that he still had a great deal of belief in many key points of Academic painting, but was truly committed to the visual possibilities only available through the Impressionistic techniques.
He was made a full member of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1906, as well as playing an active role in several other organizations. He exhibited throughout his career including the Paris Salon and Exposition, the Society of Independent Artists and the Corcoran Gallery. His paintings are in many major collections, including the U.S. Capitol Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Art Institute of Chicago.