Weber arrived in
Paris by October 1905 in time to see the important
introduction of Fauve painting at the Salon d’Automne.
Although he entered the drawing class of the grand manner
history painter Jean-Paul Laurens at the Academie Julien,
Weber quickly realized the implications of the new art and
rebelled against academic practice. Yet, he continued to draw
and paint in the open academies of Colarossi and Grande
retrospective memorial of Paul Cezanne’s work at the Salon des
Independents in 1907 was a pivotal moment in Weber’s career
and it reinforced his resolve to pursue an innovative
direction in his art.
In Paris Weber
met Leo Stein and his sister Gertrude, whose Saturday salons
were legendary meeting places for the most advanced artists
who became the major masters of modern art. Through the Steins
he met Matisse and Picasso. In 1908 Weber was a founding
member of Matisse’s only venture into teaching. Weber also
befriended Robert Delaunay and through him the eccentric Henri
Rousseau, also known as ‘Le Douanier.’ Although
based in Paris, Weber visited the major art museums, galleries
and historic sites in Spain, Holland, Italy and England before
returning to the United States in January 1909. At the Gare
St. Lazare as he was leaving Paris, Rousseau called out to the
twenty-seven year old American artist, “N’oubliez pas la
nature, Weber” and Weber complied to his friend’s admonishment
by never neglecting nature in his art. Weber also never forgot
Rousseau and was instrumental in introducing Rousseau to
America when he organized the first retrospective of
Rousseau’s work at Alfred Stieglitz’s ‘291’ Gallery in 1910.
In 1913 Weber lent his small collection of Rousseau paintings
and drawings to the famed Armory Show.