Theodore Earl Butler

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Theodore Earl Butler

Birthdate: (75)
Birthplace: Columbus, OH, United States
Death: 1936 (74)
Giverny, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Courtland Philip Livingston Butler and Elizabeth Slade Butler
Husband of Marthe Hoschedé and Suzanne Hoschedé
Father of James P. Butler and Lily Butler
Brother of Frances Livingston Butler; Charles H. Butler; William Livingston Butler; Mary Elizabeth Sheldon; Harriett Livingston Butler and 1 other

Occupation: Painter
Managed by: Scott David Hibbard
Last Updated:

About Theodore Earl Butler

Theodore Earl Butler was an American impressionist painter.

Butler studied at Marietta College in Ohio and graduated in 1882. He studied at the Art Students League with James Carroll Beckwith, Kenyon Cox and J. Alden Weir, and under William Merritt Chase from 1884 to 1886. One of Butler’s first paintings is a copy of Menippus by Diego Velázquez(1639-1641) Standing Bearded Man, 1885. Butler then moved to study in Paris. The many hundreds of American art students who came to France during the late 19th century had attended not only The National Academy of Design, or the Art Students League of New York but also the Cowles Art School in Boston, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. The most dedicated attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The students had to pass an intensive examination in French.

In Paris, Butler enrolled at La Grande-Chaumière, Atelier Colarossi and at Académie Julian. Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard studied at Academy Julian in 1888-1889. Butler studied under Emile Carolus Duran. Carolus Duran (who was a close friend of Claude Monet) said "when you can paint and draw the human figure you can do everything else ” Carolus opened an art studio in 1873 on Boulevard Montparnasse, called the “81”. His studio began with twelve students including James Carroll Beckwith and Will Low. The following year John Singer Sargent, a friend of Paul César Helleu joined them. Sargent and Claude Monet had become close friends in 1876 and there was much correspondence between them. Carolus Duran who was also known to have given free private lessons to some painters introduced his students to the work of Claude Monet who had moved to Giverny on April 29 1883. Butler stayed for some time in the same building as Carolus Duran. and Butler won an honorable mention in 1888 at the Paris Salon for a painting entitled “la Veuve”, (the Widow.).

Butler signed the register under number 11 at Hotel Baudy in 1888 (May 20- September 1888.) along with Theodore Wendel who was an Ohioan who also studied at Academy Julian. Theodore stayed again at Hotel Baudy from October 1891 until July 21 1892. Besides Butler other American painters who spent time in Giverny included John Leslie Breck, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Edmund Greacen, Philip Hale, Willard Metcalf, Lilla Cabot Perry, Theodore Robinson and Guy Rose. On July 3 Butler and Robinson had diner at Monet’s house.

Claude Monet married Alice Hoschedé the 16th of July 1892. The witnesses were the painters Gustave Caillebotte and Paul César Helleu. Despite Monet’s objections to his stepdaughter Suzanne Hoschedé's marriage, he finally agreed after discovering the wealth of Butler’s family. The marriage occurred a few days after Monet’s wedding.

Butler married Suzanne Hoschedé, Claude Monet’s step daughter, on July 20, 1892. Suzanne is known as The woman with a Parasol. She was Monet’s favorite model.

The event was also immortalized by a painting by Theodore Robinson titled The Wedding March. Theodore Butler became a key player and link between the American Colony and Claude Monet. The Butler family organized many dinners such as a dinner of October 25, 1892 with Robinson, Hale, Hart and Marthe Hoschedé. He was also a painter, an excellent cook and a person full of humor. Butler painted with emotion, sincerity and intensity. “I’m making great culinary preparations for the winter.” Theodore decided to buy an orchard and built a new house. “We, Suzanne and Jimmy and I wish that you were here we’d like to see you first rate. I have been working some, about half as much as I should - perhaps less - We are building a house back of Peggy’s in that little orchard you must remember. Said house is to be a wonder of elegance and taste - You will see it next year perhaps."

Butler participated in the publication and conception of the Courier Innocent. He did the cover and illustrated many pages. Butler painted a serie of paintings of his own family, son Jimmy Butler born in 1893, and daughter Lilly Butler born in in 1894. Those paintings described the daily life of his family. Most of them were done indoors. Those paintings included series' entitled The Bath, After the Bath, and Playing with Jimmy. Butler developed his own impressionist style with light palettes and loose brushstrokes, reminiscent of works done by Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. From his garden he did a lot of landscapes showing the church of Giverny, The Demoiselles (small haystacks) and the grain stacks.

After a lingering illness, Suzanne Hoschede died in 1899. Thereafter most of Butler’s paintings were landscapes. Marthe Hoschede, Suzanne’s sister helped Butler raise Jimmy and Lilly. In 1899 Theodore Earl Butler decided to go back to the United States. A letter from Henry Prellwitz to Philip Hale indicated that Hart told him that Butler will sail on the 16th of September on la Touraine [1899].

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Theodore Earl Butler's Timeline

October 16, 1861
Columbus, OH, United States
Age 31
Age 32
Age 74
Giverny, France