Henry Fitch Taylor French landscape turns up in Monaco
Pastel on paper, 18 x 22", signed and dated lower left with inscription verso
Henry Fitch Taylor (1853-1925) was a fascinating individual with talents as an actor, artist, and arts organizer. I wrote my doctoral dissertation for the University of Delaware on Taylor and his wife, Clara Davidge Taylor (1858-1921); both played an integral role in planning and realizing the iconic 1913 Armory Show. In 2005 I organized a Taylor exhibition with catalogue for the Greenwich Historical Society. Taylor was one of the first Americans to turn to Impressionism; after several years travelling as a supporting actor in Joseph Jefferson's famous comedic troupe, he caught the art bug, probably from Jefferson, who was a major collector and avid amateur artist. From 1884-88, Taylor studied art in France, enrolling at the Academie Julian in Paris and befriending other Americans who were to become prominent painters, most notably Theodore Robinson and John Leslie Breck. He was one of the first Americans to befriend Claude Monet, whom he met on a trip to Giverrny one summer. Period photographs show Taylor standing in a group with the Monet family. Taylor's art can be divided into two portions: his early French-influenced landscapes show the impact of the Barbizon School and then Impressionism and his later career shows the impact of abstract styles like Cubism and Futurism. Unfortunately most of Taylor's art is lost, for instance we know that he painted portraits although none are located. Happily, several rare modernist pieces have resurfaced in the past couple of years, finding a ready market, and this pastel landscape turned up in an auction last year in Monaco. I was able to buy it from a photograph, thanks to the convenience of internet bidding. This charming rural landscape, which seems to depict a village church, demonstrates the influence of Impressionism in its depiction of sun-dappled surfaces and use of bright green and blue colors, yet unlike true Impressionism, it does not leave line and form behind. It is in superb condition and fully signed, dated, and titled--albeit in Italian! An important rediscovery.