From Providence to Paris

From Providence to Paris

While Pat Massiello loved to paint the Washington Bridge in Providence, fellow Rhode Islander Lester Hornby (1882 – 1956) went to Paris to paint the iconic Paris, Pont Neuf Bridge. The oldest standing bridge across the Siene in Paris, started under Henry II in 1550.  Lester Hornby is one of those remarkable RISD graduate print makers little known among many collectors.

More on Lester Hornby in a Betty Minor Duffy essay for Georgetown University.

The Art of Lester G. Hornby (1882-1956)  Lester G. Hornby (1882-1956) is one of the surprising number of early 20th century American artists who achieved great acclaim during their vital years and yet lived to see their works, during the ensuing decades, largely neglected. That condition is now being reversed for many of them.

In Hornby’s case, during the past five years a catalogue of his prints has been published and a number of exhibitions of his work have been mounted. Georgetown’s exhibition, which features a complete set of his World War I etchings of 1918, includes some of Hornby’s best.

Hornby received his early training at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He then journeyed to Paris where he developed his technique further at the major art academies there. Hornby’s progress was rapid; he received his first international recognition in Paris in the prestigious Salon d’Automne of 1907.

Completely captivated by Paris and the French countryside, Hornby spent most of his productive years in France, returning intermittently to America. In his latter years, he played an active role as teacher and artist in the Rockport art colony, dying there at his cottage in 1956.

Hornby’s style and technique lie within the Whistlerian tradition. Hornby printed all of his own etchings, experimenting with the subtleties of plate tone as a means of enhancing mood in his images. Several of his etchings are in color, one of which is in this exhibition. Most of his etchings were produced during the first two decades of this century.

Understandably, his dominant subject matter is Paris and the French countryside – typically incorporating a pronounced human element. In addition to his World War I collection of prints, this exhibition includes a sampling of his images of Paris, and the Cape Ann region.

Hornby’s works are well represented in major public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Corcoran, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, Bibliotheque National in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.