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Poetry in Design: The Art of Harry Leith-Ross
May 12 - October 1, 2006
(above: Harry Leith-Ross, Snowy
Morning in Jericho, ca. 1930s, oil on canvas, H.24 x W.30 inches. Collection
of Thomas and Karen Buckley)
The James A. Michener Art Museum in New Hope, PA presents Poetry in Design: The Art of Harry Leith-Ross, an exhibition about one of the most decorated and prolific Pennsylvania Impressionist artists from May 12 through October 1, 2006 in the Della Penna Gallery.
Leith-Ross (1886-1973) became renowned for his vibrant, carefully composed oil paintings and for his transparent watercolor technique in the tradition of the eighteenth century. For more than 30 years Leith-Ross regularly exhibite his watercolors, drawings, and oil paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Organized by the Michener Art Museum, this retrospective exhibition features more than 50 works, which give a full range of oil paintings and watercolors, as well as a selection of his exquisite Conte crayon drawings.
(above: Harry Leith-Ross, Tenant's House and Tracks,
n.d, oil on canvas, H.24 x W.26 inches, Private Collection)
Poetry in Design: The Art of Harry Leith-Ross is accompanied by the publication Poetry in Design authored by Michener's associate curator Erika Jaeger-Smith. This new book gathers together Leith-Ross's work from major museums and private collections for the first time, in a richly illustrated volume that showcases an artist who was one of the most decorated and prolific Pennsylvania Impressionists. This beautifully illustrated book chronicles Harry Leith-Ross' life from his birth to his final residence in Bucks County. This is the definitive publication covering the artist's life and work and is the sixth volume in the acclaimed series of books on Pennsylvania Impressionist artists produced by the expert curators of the Michener Art Museum. Poetry in Design is co-published by the Michener Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Born in the British colony of Mauritius, Leith-Ross first immigrated to his grandparents' castle in Scotland, and later moved to the United States. The early career endeavors of Leith-Ross took him on an indirect path. He studied engineering, worked for his uncle's coal-mining business, and pursued an advertising and commercial art career with a printing and engraving company. In 1909, he traveled to Paris to study painting, which would become his life's work.
After study in Europe, Leith-Ross moved to New York and began to exhibit his paintings at the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work from this period demonstrates bold broken brushwork and thick rich impasto. It was during this time that he met John Folinsbee, a noted painter of the Pennsylvania Impressionist School. Leith-Ross moved to Pennsylvania in 1935, where he quickly became an integral member of the New Hope arts community, settling with his wife in Upper Makefield.
(above: Harry Leith-Ross, Urban Project (Reconstruction,
Amsterdam), n.d., oil on canvas mounted on masonite, H. 32 x W. 42 inches,
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA Gift from the collection of Harry
and Catherine Kuch, 1987)
Leith-Ross taught in universities across the country and had many private students at every stage of his life. Throughout his career he encouraged his students not to fear painting from memory. He also cautioned them to focus their efforts on conveying a mood as well as distilling their ideas into a single concept before beginning to paint; as he said, a canvas must express "just one thing." His work shows a great emphasis on visual design as well as mood, and he was critical of impressionist paintings that relied on only light and shadow. Along with his award-winning oil paintings, he became renowned for his transparent watercolor technique in the tradition of eighteenth-century painters.
The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA will present Poetry in Design: The Art of Harry Leith-Ross from October 28, 2006 through March 4, 2007 in the Fred Beans Gallery.
Following are wall panel texts for the Doylestown exhibit:
This exhibition is sponsored by Sanford Alderfer Companies.
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