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Charles Sprague Pearce   Click Images to Enlarge

Charles Sprague Pearce
PĂȘcher d'enfants
(Children Fishing)

Painted in Auvers-sur-Oise, circa 1890

Oil on canvas
30 x 42 3/4 inches

(American, 1851-1914)

~A magnificent outdoor genre by this expatriate Impressionist~

Genre and figure painter Charles Sprague Pearce was one of the leading expatriate painters in Paris with Sargent, J.L. Stewart, Milne Ramsay and E.H. Blashfield and one of the finest followers of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Jules Breton who branched out into Impressionism.

Pearce was born and educated in Boston, where he spent time working in his father's mercantile business. He was named after his grandfather, a poet. He started painting in 1872 on the advice of William Morris Hunt (1824-1879), went to Paris to study with Leon-Joseph Bonnat (1833-1922), where one of his fellow students was John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). He painted with Chester Loomis, Edwin Blashfield and Milne Ramsey. In Paris, Pearce became part of a group of American painters who would spend many years as expatriates: Arthur Bridgman Lippincott, Chester Loomis, Edwin Howland Blashfield and Frederick A. Bridgman. In 1873-1874, Pearce and Bridgman traveled in Egypt, which inspired much of Bridgman's work in future years. Pearce also painted some Orientalist subjects, as well as portraits, religious subjects and genre scenes. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1876. That same year, he sent work to the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. His favorite subjects came to be scenes of peasants and children in the north of France and he was highly influenced by the work of Jules Bastien Lepage (1848-1884) and Jules Adolphe Breton (1827-1906). Pearce remained in France for the rest of his life, a true expatriate, settling in 1885 some twenty miles from Paris at Anvers-sur-Oise with his French wife. By that time, he had somewhat modified his earlier meticulous painting style in favor of an Impressionist's palette.

Pearce served on numerous international juries and executed a series of 6 murals for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and he won numerous gold medals and awards, including silver medals in Boston (1878, 1881) and a gold medal (1884); a gold medal at the PAFA (1881); the Temple Gold Medal at the PAFA (1885); gold medal in Ghent (1886) and an honorable mention at the Paris Salon (1885). He was made chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1894, an associate member of the National Academy of Design in New York (1894) and won other awards of distinction including Order of Leopold, Belgium (1895), the Order of the Red Eagle, Prussia (1897) and the Order of Dannebrog, Denmark (1899). He was a member of the National Academy of Design, Society of American Artists, Paris Society of Artists/Painters, National Institute of Arts & Letters and the Salmagundi Club, NY. As early as 1888, he won a gold medal in Munich, a gold in San Francisco (1894), Atlanta Expo (gold, 1895), Vienna Staats (gold, 1898) and a medal in 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.

Pearce is represented in the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of art; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Terra Foundation of the Arts (Chicago), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, Zigler Museum, Denver Art Museum, Smith College Museum of Art, Danforth Museum and more. His most desirable subjects were painted en plein aire and with academic exactness, utilizing a virile, impressionistic-pointillism that is seen in Girl and Boy Fishing (painted around 1890).

Reference: Americans in Paris, 1850-1910 (Oklahoma City Museum, 2003); Masterworks of American Painting (Smith College Museum, 1999); Carr, C. K, Revisiting the White City (1993); Lublin, Mary, A Rare Elegance, The Paintings of Charles Sprague Pearce (1993); Weinberg, H.B., The Lure of Paris (1991); Fink, L.M., American Art at the Paris Salons (1990); Marlais, M.A., Americans and Paris (1990); Sellin, David, Americans in Brittany & Normandy (1982); Quick, Michael, American Expatriate Painters (1976); Hartmann, Sadekichi, A History of American Painting (1932); Neuhaus, Eugen, The History and Ideals of American Art (1931); Hoyt, Deristhe L., The World's Painters (1898); American Art (Lippincott & Co., 1886)