Willard Leroy Metcalf, an American artist, was born on July 1, 1858 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He is best known for scenes of the hills and countryside of New England in which he merged a realist and an Impressionist approach.
Metcalf‘s early studies consisted of classes at the Massachusetts Normal School in 1874, and at the Lowell Institute in 1875. Also in 1875, he was an apprentice to the landscape painter George Loring Brown. He received a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (later known as the Boston Museum School) until 1878. Here, he studied under William Rimmer.
In 1881, Willard Leroy Metcalf received an illustration commission for the Southwest for Harper’s. He accompanied journalist Sylvester Baxter to illustrate his article on the Zuni Indians. Later in 1881, he met and painted ethnologist Frank Hamilton Cushing.
By 1883, Metcalf had saved up enough money to study in France at the Académie Julian, Paris. Here he studied under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. Metcalf visited North Africa in late 1886 and early 1887, where he painted scenes such as Arab Encampment, Biskra, and later visited Venice.
By 1889, Willard Leroy Metcalf was back in the United States. He lived in New York, where he taught, created portraits, and produced illustrations. He was commissioned by the Havana Tobacco Company for a number of paintings of Cuba. Metcalf won the coveted Webb Prize at the Society of American Artists’ Annual Exhibition in 1896 with his painting, Gloucester Harbor. He became a member of the Ten American Painters in the follow year. In 1899, he painted two murals for the Appellate Court building in New York City. In 1903, Metcalf became a “peacmaker” in Old Lyme, Connecticut, mediating between the warring Tonalist and Impressionist camps.
Metcalf’s paintings can be found in many prominent private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; New Hampshire; the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; the Denver Art Museum; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Musée d’Art Américain, Giverny, France; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the San Diego Museum of Art, California; the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C and the White House, Washington, D.C..
Willard Leroy Metcalf died in New York City on March 9, 1925.