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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Ernest Lawson, The Boat House, not dated, oil on canvas.

Ernest Lawson, American, 1873-1939

The Boat House
Not dated
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Daisy V. Shapiro in memory of her son, Richard David Shapiro, Class of 1943; P.960.57.4


Competing with modernist and realist trends of the early twentieth century, Ernest Lawson attempted to revitalize the impressionist style through robust brushwork, bright colors, and strategically employed architectural elements that provide a bold underlying structure for his painterly canvases. In this work Lawson builds up a complex web of overlapping, fluid strokes that unite land, buildings, and water to create an overall tapestry-like pattern. The more solidly rendered dock and the boathouse define the space and provide a foil for the transient, shimmering effects of reflections on water. Lawson took full advantage of his studio location in northern Manhattan, where he had easy access to the interface between the built environment and the Harlem River, which would be a predominant theme. Although Lawson frequently depicted scenes in or just outside New York City and he associated with William Glackens, Robert Henri, and other urban realists, relatively few of his works have the gritty subject matter or darker palette of the realists. As evident in this work, he for the most part remained stylistically indebted to his early impressionist colleagues and instructors, especially John Henry Twachtman. Like them, Lawson stayed fascinated with light, color, and broken brushwork, and he would often return to a subject again and again, painting in different seasons of the year. This, for instance, is one of several boathouse subjects he painted throughout his career, both in summer and winter. Mrs. Daisy V. Shapiro donated this painting to Dartmouth as part of a distinguished group of art works offered in memory of her son, Richard Davis Shapiro, Class of 1943, who a year after graduating died in action in the Battle of Leyte, one of the largest naval battles in history.

Last Updated: 6/9/15