After a stop in London, Julian returned to New York in 1877 where he became a charter member of the Society of American Artists. He also displayed his work at the National Academy of Design, began to receive commissions, and taught art classes at schools and in private classes. During these years, Julian generally focused on still life paintings and the human figure. In 1880, he bought the property in Ridgefield and married his wife, Anna, in 1883.
He invited artists friends to paint with him at the farm, including Albert Pinkham Ryder and John Henry Twachtman. Julian began to paint landscapes and by 1891, changed his mind about impressionism, adopting it as his main style. In 1893, the American Art Association put on a show comparing his and Twachtman's paintings to those of Claude Monet and Paul Besnard. This was clearly a noteworthy event; it gave Julian greater notoriety and elevated his standing in the art world.
Julian continued to paint landscapes and figurative works, and he also took up etching. In late 1897, along with nine other artists, formed a group called The Ten American Painters to promote impressionism. The Ten, as it was known, exhibited for 20 years. In 1912, he became the first president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (he resigned a year later due to a disagreement). He became the president of the National Academy of Design in 1915. He died on December 8, 1919 of heart disease.