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Ernest Lawson Portrait

Ernest Lawson

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 1873

Miami, Florida 1939

Active in:

  • Paris, France
  • New York, New York
  • Coral Gables, Florida

Photo Caption:
Ernest Lawson, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001834

Luce Artist Quote

"Color is my specialty in art . . . It affects me like music affects some persons---emotionally." Ernest Lawson, quoted in Leeds, Ernest Lawson, 2000


Painter, the only landscape painter among The Eight. Influenced by French Impressionism and the Impressionism of American artists John Henry Twachtman and Julian Alden Weir, he had a preference for painting winter scenes along the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Stylistically, Lawson's work was characterized by his use of heavy impasto.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

Ernest Lawson worked as a draftsman for an engineering firm in Mexico City before taking art courses in Cos Cob, Connecticut. His teacher, John Twachtman, encouraged him to study in Paris, and Lawson ended up living with the novelist Somerset Maugham, who modeled the tormented artist in Of Human Bondage on his roommate. Lawson returned to New York, where his paintings of docks, constructions sites, Coney Island, and the Hudson River garnered good reviews. Despite his critical success, Lawson was lonely and drank heavily. He eventually moved away from New York, first to Colorado Springs, where he painted and taught for two years, and later to South Florida. Toward the end of his life, rheumatoid arthritis slowed his work, and in 1939 he was found dead on the beach in Miami, having suffered a heart attack during his morning walk. (Anderson, Ernest Lawson Retrospective, 1976)