THEODORE E. BUTLER1860-1936
When Theodore E. Butler moved to Giverny, he spent the rest of his life there. Giverny, the artist – colony located northwest of Paris – was the home of Claude Monet. Butler married two of Monet’s stepdaughters- Suzanne Hoschedé in 1892, who died prematurely in 1899, and then he married Marthe Hoschedé in 1900. These marriages contributed to the close bond that he had with Monet. Butler and his fellow artist Theodore Wendel arrived in Giverny in 1888. Other American artists who were there at that time were Lilla Cabot Perry, Theodore Robinson, Willard Metcalf and John Leslie Breck. Butler was their liaison with Monet, who proved to be incredibly influential upon all of them.
In 1909, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris held a one-man show of Butler’s paintings. There were paintings of Giverny landscapes, Paris studies, beach scenes and other subjects. Butler was well known for his Giverny scenes, but his Paris scenes were new. In Butler’s works, many influences can be seen, notably, the impressionist handling of Monet (his father-in-law) and the Fauve palette of the Post- Impressionists. Because Butler was a plein-air artist, the same site was often painted with differing effects of light. Some scenes were painted with the lighter Impressionist palette, while others showed the strong color influence of Bonnard and Vuillard. However, throughout his career, Butler’s palette, handling of paint, and style were uniquely his own.
Butler did a sketch for a painting known as “Fireworks, Vernon” on July 14, 1906, Bastille Day. Although this subject was unusual for the artist, it led to a series of canvases including “Fireworks #1”. Butler was familiar with Monet’s series of bridge paintings from London at the turn of the century. Butler reinterpreted this theme in Vernon (near Giverny) and utilized the flashing lights and colors of the fireworks against the night sky.