A painter’s blurry, enchanting, elusive New York

Born in St. Louis in 1864 and trained in France, Paul Cornoyer made a name for himself in the late 19th century, painting landscapes and urban scenes in an impressionist style.


“In 1899, with encouragement from William Merritt Chase, he moved to New York City,” states oxfordgallery.com.

Here he opened a studio, became associated with the Ash Can school, and for many years was a beloved art teacher at the Mechanics Institute.


“Celebrated for his lyrical cityscapes and atmospheric landscapes, Paul Cornoyer crafted an indelible impression of fin-de-siècle New York,” explains this fine arts site.

[Above: “Winter Twilight Central Park”; below, “Flatiron Building”]


Well-known in his day, his typically rainy, muted depictions of New York City sold well and earned him fame, particularly “The Plaza After Rain” (below) and “Madison Square in the Afternoon” (top).


He’s not a household name, but his vision of a New York with soft edges and blurred borders still resonates—reflecting a moody city filled with mystery and enchantment.

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18 Responses to “A painter’s blurry, enchanting, elusive New York”

  1. Elsa Louise Says:

    Exquisitely delicate. His application of light is quite noteworthy. I cannot recall having heard of him and agree he deserves a wider audience. Thank you for posting examples of his work.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You’re welcome, and he does deserve a wider audience. They’re magical!

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Beautiful! You brought to our attention the windy city paintings of Martin Lewis and now the serene and gentle Paul Cornoyer. Who will you next find in your New York archives? Keep digging through it all, you’re on a roll 😉

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Mick!

  5. ledamato Says:

    Love these. The play on light is wonderful.

  6. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Beautiful! I love the lighting in “Winter Twilight Central Park.” Actually, they are all excellent.

  7. dido Says:

    I second Mr. Dementiuk’s praise. Because of his remark I looked at your Martin Lewis posts and some more of his work online. Spectacular! Especially if you know how hard it is to etch like that: there’s no going back; your drawing skills have to be superb. Unlike oil painting you don’t get to back the next day and wipe your mistakes away. Thank you for your posts. I did also see that the Brooklyn Museum had a show that incorporated some his work in 2012. Did anyone see it?
    Anyway, I was wondering if anyone saw the terrific Bellows show(so much more than boxers, who knew?) that recently ended at the Met. There was one painting there titled “New York,” 1911. The Met said it was a view of Madison Square Park. A bunch of elderly New Yorkers and my mother and I stood in front of the painting trying to figure out from which point the painting had been observed. Did anyone else see it and figure it out?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thank you so much! I did see the Bellows show, what a treasure. But I don’t remember the Madison Square painting! Did anyone else go and perhaps see it?

    • petey Says:

      i missed that bellows show and was very upset with myself for it.

  8. Keith Goldstein Says:

    Love these!

  9. Bare trees and gray skies in Washington Square | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Cornoyer is a U.S. artist who trained in Paris; his paintings of Madison Square, Bryant Park, and Central Park, especially in the rain and at dusk, are atmospheric a… […]

  10. Walking along Madison Square after the rain | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] don’t know the name of this painting, but the artist, Paul Cornoyer, often depicted Madison Square and other well-traveled hubs of the Gilded Age city, especially after a […]

  11. The Flatiron Building in all of its glittery glory | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The building is 105 years old this year, an icon at the nexus of Fifth Avenue and Broadway is the subject of early photographs and Impressionist paintings. […]

  12. trilby1895 Says:

    Thank you so much, Ephemeral, for this absolutely glorious display of Gilded Age, Manhattan! Flatiron Building – if I had to choose just one favorite building, it would be this. Rainy, moody, elegant Madison Square Park; I’m transported back….

  13. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You and I both love Cornoyer’s New York City, Trilby

  14. trilby1895 Says:

    Still later and once again, “Ohhhhh,” she sighed…..

  15. An artist paints the end of rural Upper Manhattan | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] a German-born landscape painter who studied in St. Louis with Impressionist Paul Cornoyer, arrived in New York in 1917, according to the St. Louis Historical Art […]

  16. An Impressionist painter’s Christmas in Madison Square Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Cornoyer depicted Madison Square Park many times. But to my knowledge, “Christmas in Madison Square Park” is the only painting of his that captures what appears to be New York City’s first official park Christmas tree. […]

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