Leon Makielski was an American portrait and landscape painter who studied and painted with the masters of impressionism. He was born in Morris Run, Pennsylvania in 1885. Makielski’s works are a marvel of skill and detail, and reflect the famous break with the then-existing movement of academic painting and a shift to reinvent the creative process. Leaving behind historical, mythological, and Orientalist themes, this new movement, led by painters such as Pissaro, Renoir, and Monet, focused on subjects and scenes from everyday life. The goal was no longer to paint a large fresco with a faithful visual representation but to allow oneself to express the sensations experienced while painting. Light and climate phenomena, including snow, rain, and waves, as well as the joys and sorrows of men and women, left fleeting impressions that the artists worked to capture and reproduce on the canvas.
In the early 1900s, Makielski studied at the Art Institute of Chicago where by 1908 he became an instructor and was awarded the Institute’s highest honor, the John Quincy Adams Traveling Scholarship. He was a pupil of Henri Martin, Richard Miller, Lucien Simon and R. Menard. He exhibited in the Paris Salons of 1910 and 1911 and spent much of his time painting the countryside around Paris, particularly in Giverny and Versailles. Makielski’s portraits are listed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Catalog of American Portraits and he is listed in Who’s Who in American Impressionism.