The Broken Fence: Spring Flood
Hailed by the art dealer Frederic Newlin-Price as a "painter of crushed jewels," Lawson's landscapes shimmer with light and color. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Lawson studied with and was profoundly influenced by John Twachtman. He also studied briefly at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he was struck by the work of Alfred Sisley, but he felt that too much exposure to Impressionism might compromise his individuality. From 1898 to about 1908, Lawson lived and painted in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan. Like many other American artists influenced by Impressionism, Lawson's response to the landscape was highly personal, and exploration of intimacy and mood. In "The Broken Fence," Lawson painted in a very characteristic manner, layers pigment to an almost woven effect, with underlayers of color gleaming through. Around the time this painting was made, Lawson was introduced by his friend William Glackens to the other artists who would comprise The Eight, a group of artists who espoused an urban realist style. Lawson's association with The Eight and their commitment to innovative art also led to his participation in the Armory Show in 1913. Despite great acclaim from certain critics, Lawson remained under-appreciated in his lifetime, and was often depressed and struggling financially. Late in life, he moved to Florida; his body was found on a deserted beach in Miami, where he was thought to have died of a heart attack after being robbed.