John Joseph Enneking was born in Ohio in 1841 and was orphaned at a young age. He began to paint at the age of five and developed a natural talent before travelling East to New York and Massachusetts. He trained in Germany, Italy and France and he was the first American to return from Paris in 1874 after having painted with Claude Monet, Pissarro and Renoir in Monet’s gardens at Argentueil (where Enneking painted Monet’s wife and child).
Because Enneking was an influential Boston painter, he spoke to many artists about the innovations of the French Impressionists and because of him hundreds of Boston area painters sailed for Paris to study in France.
Although he exhibited all over the U.S. and Europe, Enneking was his own man and did not like becoming a member of clubs or organizations that promoted artists. He became one of the most sought after American landscape painters in the U.S. and was Boston’s Park Commissioner for many years. In 1916, before his death in Boston, a dinner in his honor was attended by hundreds of artists, and he was crowned with a wreath of laurel.
Enneking is called “the painter of New England sunsets,” probably because he is one of the only painters who can effectively paint sunsets in a realistic manner. However, he commonly painted en plein aire on locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York and critics have claimed his canvases are so refined that it looks as if “he painted with crushed jewels."