Sunlight and Shadow: The Life and Art of Willard L. Metcalf

Elizabeth Deveer, Author, Richard J. Boyle, Photographer Abbeville Press $85 (280p) ISBN 978-0-89659-753-2
Having painted pictures of Monet's formal garden in Giverny, Metcalf (1858-1925) applied the lessons of French impressionism to the New England landscape. Today he is not as well known as Mary Cassatt, Maurice Prendergast and other American impressionists, yet this big, gorgeous volume confirms him as their equal in many ways. His distinctive impressionism, spiked with his own tough brand of realism, defies ready categorization. The sheer directness of his approach, his optimism and lack of self-consciousness do not endear him to modernist tastes. But his best picturesand there are dozens heretake one's breath away. A believer in spiritualism, Metcalf sought correspondences between heaven and earth. On wide travels, he caught the poetry of a Tunisian street, Havana harbor and Zuni pueblos, but he kept returning to the New England settings that called forth his homespun visions, at once sublime and deceptively simple. (January)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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