Thomas Buford Meteyard (1865-1928)
October 25, 2017—February 25, 2018
Thomas Buford Meteyard was born in Rock Island, Illinois; but when he was sixteen his widowed mother took him to live with her relatives in Scituate in her native state of Massachusetts. She and other members of her family, which included artists and writers, encouraged the young Meteyard’s natural interest in the arts. He studied for a very brief time at Harvard, where he began what would prove to be life-long personal and professional relationships with the poets Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey and the future journalist (and friend of Edith Wharton’s) William Morton Fullerton.
In 1888, with his mother’s support and companionship, Meteyard followed the great late-nineteenth-century artistic migration to Paris. There, he entered the atelier of the master academic painter Léon Bonnat (1833-1922) and studied with the more avant-garde artists Alfred Phillippe Roll (1846-1919), Auguste-Joseph Delecluse (1855-1928), and possibly Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898).
By 1890, Meteyard had become part of the international artists’ colony at Giverny, just north of Paris. Like so many other artists, including the Americans Robert Vonnoh (1858-1933), Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), and John Leslie Breck (1859-1899), Meteyard was attracted to Giverny by its natural beauty and by the presence there of Claude Monet (1840-1926). Predictably, Meteyard was influenced by the Impressionists and, like them, took a keen interest in the aesthetics of Asian art. But he also developed his talents in the graphic arts and became associated with the Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) and his circle. Meteyard flourished in Europe’s bohemian milieu and was one of the first Americans to be included in the early Post-Impressionist exhibitions.
Meteyard returned to the United States in 1893, settling again in Massachusetts. He spent most of the next sixteen years there at Scituate, with frequent trips to Boston and elsewhere. Throughout, he remained a prolific and versatile painter, equally adept at oil, watercolor, woodcut, and pastel. He became even more active as an illustrator and designer during these years, notably for the Arts-and-Crafts periodicals The Knight Errant and Mahogany Tree, both of which were published in Boston.
In 1910, Meteyard returned to Europe, eventually settling permanently in England. By that time, his work was being widely recognized on an international level. He had important solo exhibitions in Boston at the Doll & Richards Gallery (1910), in Paris at the Galerie Georges Petit (1920, 1923, and 1930), and in London at West’s Gallery (1920) and the Fine Art Society (1908 and 1922). His work was also included in exhibitions of the American Water Color Society and the Society of American Artists, both in New York; at the Boston Art Club and the Copley Society in Boston; and in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, among many others.
The exhibition at the Boston Athenæum will include over fifty of Meteyard’s paintings (oils, watercolors, and pastels), drawings, and graphics. (He worked on a relatively small scale, allowing a rather broad sampling of his work, from the 1890s to the 1920s, to be included in the exhibition.) Meteyard’s relationships with the French and American Impressionists and his association with other contemporary avant-garde artists and writers will be explored as will the impact of Impressionism, post-Impressionism, Asian art, and Symbolism (including the work of the Nabis) on his style.