Ernest Lawson (1873-1939) was painter active in New York City and member of the group of American early modernist painters known as "The Eight."
Born in Nova Scotia, Canada and raised in Kansas, Ernest Lawson moved to New York City in the 1880s. There, he studied at the Art Students League and studied under John Twachtman. He also studied at the Cos Cob Connecticut summer art school before moving to Paris in 1893 to study at the Académie Julian. While in Paris he also shared a studio with W. Somerset Maugham, who is believed to have used Lawson as the inspiration for the character "Frederick Lawson" in his 1915 novel Of Human Bondage .
Lawson returned to the United States in 1896 and transitioned from his Impressionist style to a Realist style, painting primarily cityscapes. Lawson had his first solo exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1907 and won a prize for a winter landscape. Lawson joined the group painters that would become known as "The Eight," whose members included Robert Henri, William Glackens, John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn, Arthur B. Davies, and William Prendergast. These painters protested that the exhibition system in New York was a closed system that did not welcome change and modern style. In 1908, Macbeth Galleries staged the seminal show of the "The Eight."
Lawson married Ella Holman and they had two daughters Margaret and Dorothy. Lawson tragically drowned in Florida in 1939.