Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), a leading American impressionist, was born in West Point, New York. He was the son of Robert Weir, a drawing instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and half-brother of John Weir, first director of the art program at Yale University. He took art classes at the National Academy of Design before traveling to Paris in 1873 to study under the noted French Academician Jean-Léon Gérôme and later at the École des Beaux-Arts.
After trips to the Netherlands and Spain between 1873-1877, and summers spent painting in French villages, Weir returned to New York and took a studio near Washington Square, where many of his contemporaries also resided. On a second trip to Europe in 1880, Weir won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon. In Paris, he also purchased works by Manet and Rembrandt for a friend, an American collector and continued to advise American collectors, including Duncan Phillips, throughout his career.
At the time of his marriage in 1883, he acquired a farm in Branchville, Connecticut, where he summered regularly; among his guests were Albert Pinkham Ryder and John H. Twachtman, a close friend who subsequently purchased a nearby farm. The Connecticut landscape appealed to Weir, who used what he had absorbed from French impressionism to create poetic scenes, formed with subtle tones and soft light.
During this period, Weir began to experiment with watercolor, pastel and printmaking, media that seemed to allow him greater expressive freedom. A new loosely brushed, highly toned style gradually transformed his painting style into less formal one, and his acquaintance with Japanese prints, enthusiastically studied by many artists of the time, led him to embrace the asymmetry and unusual cropping typical of the oriental works of art.
Writing in A Collection in the Making, Phillips noted that Weir "painted American landscapes in a new high key of color, giving interest to the overhead light in the pale sky of a shadowless summer noon".
Made a member of the National Academy of Design in 1886, Weir was also a founding member of the Society of American Artists, the Tile Club, and, in 1898, of the artists group, The Ten. Weir painted a mural for the Columbian Exposition of 1893. The recipient of numerous honors in his last years, including presidency of the National Academy from 1905-1917, Weir died on December 8, 1919, in New York. | © The Phillips Collection
Julian Alden Weir (West Point, 30 agosto 1852 – New York, 8 dicembre 1919) è stato un pittore Impressionista Statunitense. Appartenne al gruppo dei Ten American Painters e frequentò la Cos Cob Art Colony.
Weir nacque e crebbe a West Point, figlio del pittore Robert Walter, professore di disegno all'Accademia militare di West Point. Anche suo fratello maggiore, John Ferguson Weir divenne un noto pittore paesaggista che dipingeva secondo i canoni della Hudson River School e della scuola del Barbizon.
Julian Weir ricevette le prime nozioni di pittura alla National Academy of Design nel 1870, prima di trasferirsi alla Scuola di Belle arti di Parigi nel 1873, dove studiò con Jean-Léon Gérôme e fece amicizia con Jules Bastien-Lepage. A Parigi vide per la prima volta dei quadri impressionisti, definendoli "cose orribili".
Tornato a New York City nel 1877, preferì andare a vivere in campagna e nel 1880 si stabilì a Ridgfield, nel Connecticut. Conobbe John Henry Twachtman, il cui modo di dipingere era assai simile al suo, tanto che diverse volte i due pittori esposero assieme.
Ma dal 1891 Weir si riconciliò con il movimento impressionista, riconoscendone la validità dei principi ed adottandone la tecnica pittorica ed espressiva. Il suo stile, a questo punto, oscillò fra un tradizionale e vibrante Impressionismo e un sommesso e velato Tonalismo. Weir fu anche un abile incisore, per lo più acquafortista.
Nel 1912 fu eletto primo presidente dell'Association of American Painters and Sculptors e, in seguito, divenne presidente della più prestigiosa National Academy of Design. Morì nel 1919.
La casa di campagna e lo studio di Weir a Branchville sono oggi protetti come Weir Farm National Historic Site.