Blossom Time

Artist: Willard Metcalf (1858-1925)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 91.4 x 91.1 cm (36 x 35 7/8 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

dog, fishing, landscape, United States

To 1915
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, to 1915 [1]

From 1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from M. Knoedler and Co., New York, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, in San Francisco in 1915 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Voucher No. 3, June 1915, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1. This object was purchased by Charles Lang Freer from M. Knoedler and Co. at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, June 23, 1915, (see Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record). See also, correspondence between Roland F. Knoedler and C. L. Freer (May 22, 1915; May 28, 1915; June 21, 1915; June 23, 1915; June 25, 1915) in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

M. Knoedler & Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Following what he called his "renaissance"--a sojourn in Maine in 1903--Metcalf began working in what is now regarded as his mature style. Fond of the changing seasons, especially of Winter and Spring, Metcalf painted a number of works that depict the gentle Connecticut countryside studded with blossoming fruit trees.

Blossom Time was painted in Falls Village, Connecticut, and it retains a descriptive emphasis that reveals Metcalf's early training in Paris. Metcalf never abandoned his interest in draftsmanship and clearly defined form, although he was to combine it with short, prominent brush strokes and broken color more aptly considered "Impressionist."  While the light in Blossom Time is bright and flickers over the surface, the forms themselves exhibit relatively precise definition.

Metcalf was one of several artists to experiment with a square format. Both Blossom Time and The White Pasture (F1917.249), are composed of vibrant diagonal wedges whose flat, decorative quality reaffirms the painted surface rather than suggesting real space. These active patterns are contained within the static square format to form a decorative whole.

Metcalf permits himself an anecdotal passge in Blossom Time. In the middle ground a young boy fishes while his dog watches attentively, while the painting draws our own attention to the blossom-laden trees and sub-bathed meadow, permitting us to experience again the youthful promise of Spring.

Published References
  • Burns A. Stubbs. Paintings, Pastels, Drawings, Prints, and Copper Plates by and Attributed to American and European Artists, Together with a List of Original Whistleriana, in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 1, no. 2, 2nd ed. Washington, 1967. pl. 7.
  • Ninth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists: The City Art Museum of St. Louis. Exh. cat. St. Louis. pp. 57, 59.
  • Elizabeth de Veer, Richard J. Boyle. Sunlight and Shadow: The Life and Art of Willard L. Metcalf., 1st ed. New York. pp.121, 232, 239, fig. 273.
  • Michael G. Kammen. A Time to Every Purpose: The Four Seasons in American Culture. Chapel Hill. p. 144.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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