National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Midsummer Twilight Willard Leroy Metcalf (artist)
American, 1858 - 1925
Midsummer Twilight, c. 1890
oil on canvas
overall: 81.6 x 90.2 cm (32 1/8 x 35 1/2 in.) framed: 97.8 x 106.7 x 5.7 cm (38 1/2 x 42 x 2 1/4 in.)
Gift of Admiral Neill Phillips in memory of Grace Hendrick Phillips
On View
From the Tour: American Impressionists of the Late 1800s and Early 1900s
Object 4 of 7

In the later 1880s, Willard "Willy" Metcalf visited and summered four times at Giverny, northwest of Paris. Giverny had been home to the famous impressionist Claude Monet since 1883. Although Metcalf knew the older French painter, it was the rustic village itself that drew the young American to the area. The calm structure of Giverny's plowed fields, stone-walled roads, and tile-roofed farmhouses fascinated many painters. Here, several building eaves and crop lines point toward the shimmering orb of a full moon rising through rosy clouds over the eastern horizon.

Sunset imparts a yellow warmth to the stuccoed walls, while the complementary color of violet marks the lengthening shadows of late afternoon. The deep blue-greens of the foreground bushes similarly balance and contrast with the red-oranges of the terracotta roofs.

Metcalf traveled incessantly, painting Italian villages in the Tuscan hills, Arab markets in Tunisia, and Zuni pueblos in New Mexico. Despite his restlessness, he kept returning to his native Massachusetts. His New England woodland and coastal scenes captured every season of the year and eventually earned his fame. Ironically, for an artist who could so beautifully convey the earth's placid serenity, Metcalf led a bohemian life obsessed with women, alcohol, and occult spiritualism.

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