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John Leslie Breck
(1859-1899)

During and after his life, John Leslie Breck was credited with bringing French Impressionism to Boston and the United States at large. Breck grew up in Newtown, Massachusetts. He began his artistic training at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany. In 1886, he enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris. And in the summer of 1887, he traveled to Giverny with a group of American artists that included Willard LeRoy Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, and Theodore Wendel. Reportedly, the group chose Giverny for its beauty not the presence of Claude Monet. When Breck finally did meet Monet, however, the two became fast friends. This artistic relationship and friendship led to Breck's romantic involvement with Monet's stepdaughter, Blanche Hoschédé. In fact, the younger artist became so enamored of Giverny and its residents that he remained there during the winters of 1888 and 1889, after most other American artists had returned to Paris.

Breck’s connection to Giverny and to Monet himself greatly influenced his artistic style. The dark, academic paintings that demonstrated the impact of his time in Munich were replaced by exuberant, light-filled landscapes. These informal outdoor subjects, rendered with loose brushwork and bright colors, became emblematic of Breck’s mature painting style. Breck’s bright impressionistic paintings were first exhibited at the St. Botolph Club in Boston in 1890. This show and another one held in 1895 not only presented Breck’s work to the American public, but they also introduced the style and philosophy of French Impressionism to American artists and collectors alike.