Born in Newport, Kentucky, Thomas Anshutz studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he was an assistant to the director, Thomas Eakins. In 1886 Eakins was forced to resign because of his radical teaching methods, and Anshutz succeeded him. Anshutz trained a new generation of artists including Robert Henri, John Marin, and Charles Demuth.
A significant point in Anshutz' career came in 1892, when he traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian for a year. He worked with French academic artists Henri-Lucien Doucet and William-Adolphe Bouguereau to perfect his own realistically rendered and carefully crafted studies of human anatomy.
In addition to his work as a painter, Anshutz was a masterful watercolorist and a member of watercolor clubs in both Philadelphia and New York City. Rooftops, St. Cloud, was most likely inspired by his year in France. The simplification of form and cropped perspective reflect Anshutz' interest in modernism.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]