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Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and Its Response in Pennsylvania Painting, 1900-1950

December 1, 2006 - April 8, 2007


Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and Its Response in Pennsylvania Painting, 1900-1950 is currently open at the Erie Art Museum. This exhibition, organized by the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in collaboration with the Erie Art Museum and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, brings together the work of Pennsylvania artists that, although stylistically varied, are firmly based upon the foundation of representational art. By celebrating the contributions of Pennsylvania artists and placing them and their work within the greater context of American art, Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and Its Response in Pennsylvania Painting, 1900-1950 will provide museum visitors with a rare opportunity to assess the direction of art at the opening of the 20th century.

The exhibition has traveled to the following venues: The Westmorland Museum of Art: Feb. 26 - May 21, 2006; Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Saint Francis University (Loretto, PA): August 4 - November 5, 2006; Erie Art Museum (Erie, PA): December 1, 2006 - April 8, 2007; and will travel to the James A. Michener Art Museum (Doylestown, PA): May 19 - September 2, 2007.

This exhibition received funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), a state agency, through a PCA program that supports Pennsylvania traveling exhibitions and a website promoting these exhibitions -- www.picturepa.org. The Richard C. von Hess Foundation provides additional funding.


The Significance of the Artists of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has held a prominent place in the advancement of American painting. Exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Carnegie Museum of Art, along with nationally recognized studio art programs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) played an important role in the American art scene in the opening decades of the 20th Century. This period in American art was an extremely energetic, creative and quickly changing one with artists addressing a barrage of new styles defined by abstraction and modernism.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the instruction and works of such Pennsylvania artists as George Hetzel, Thomas Anshutz, and Thomas Eakins set the stage for Robert Henri, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Mary Cassatt, each of whom became synonymous with a different movement in American realism, focusing on the city and modern life. Artists including Aaron Harry Gorson, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, who continued an interest in urban life, closely followed these artists. N.C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley, and Maxfield Parrish were artists whose works focused on images from mythology, history and literature.


Artists included in the exhibition

William Baziotes (1912-)
Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942)
Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952)
Clarence Carter (1904-2000)
Mary Cassatt (1845-1926)
Fern Coppedge (1883-1951)
Virginia Cuthbert (1908-2001)
George Ericson, a.k.a. Eugene Iverd (1893-1936)
Daniel Garber (1880-1958)
William Glackens (1870-1938)
Aaron Harry Gorson (1872-1933)
Johanna K. W. Hailman (1871-1958)
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Roy Hilton (1892­1963)
John Kane (1860-1934)
Albert King (1854-1945)
George Luks (1867-1933)
Norwood MacGilvary (1874­1949)
Violet Oakley (1874-1961)
Malcolm Parcell (1896-1987)
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
Horace Pippin (1888-1946)
Hobson Pittman (1900-1972)
Joseph Plavcan (1908-1981)
Edward Redfield (1869-1965)
Samuel Rosenberg (1896-1972)
Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944)
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
Everett Shinn (1876-1953)
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Robert Spencer (1879-1931)
Walter Stuempfig (1914-1970)
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)
A. Bryan Wall (1861-1935)
Christian Walter (1872-1938)
Everett Warner (1877-1963)
Franklin Watkins (1894-1972)
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)


Overview of Artists and Artworks

William Baziotes (1912-1963)
Untitled, 1946
William Baziotes was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania. He studied painting at the National Academy of Design, graduating in 1936. He was employed by the WPA through 1941. His first one-man exhibition was held in 1944 at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery. He was a founding member, along with Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, David Hare and Barnett Newman, of the Subjects of the Artist School in New York. After his death in 1963, a memorial exhibition which traveled the country was organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Baziotes' work reflects an interest in Automatism (tapping the unconscious for the creation of images), Surrealism, and the art of Miro, Matta and Arp. He developed a personal vocabulary of abstract symbols which often have a rounded, lifelike character. These "biomorphs" are shapes that suggest a living organism but do not consciously represent one. Paintings from the mid-1940s, like Untitled from 1946, represent the biomorphs as seen through a window or doorway, or as places on a platform or stage, suggesting space despite the flatness of the composition. In his mature works, the forms are magnified to occupy the entire canvas, and the surrounding framework disappears. Baziotes' paintings represent a synthesis of Surrealist subject and Cubist style.
Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942)
Portrait of Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, 1917-18
Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) produced handsome large canvases of her socially prominent subjects, some rivaling the bravura technique of John Singer Sargent, the favored painter of the American aristocracy. Born in Philadelphia, with the death of her mother shortly after she was born, her grief-stricken father returned to his native France, leaving Cecilia and her sister to be raised by her maternal grandmother and two aunts. It was an unusual upbringing, but her genteelly impoverished relatives appreciated the arts and valued culture, and Beaux's career benefited from her solid grounding within her extended family, who supported her decision to become an artist. After private art lessons, Beaux enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy in 1877, pursuing further study in Paris for two years.
Returning to Philadelphia in 1889, she soon gained a reputation as a skilled portraitist, receiving commissions from elite patrons in the major cities of the Northeast. Such was the demand for her work, that by the turn of the twentieth century, she established her studio in New York. It was there that she painted her handsome Portrait of Mrs. Andrew Carnegie (1917-18), commissioned by the Carnegie Institute to honor the spouse of its founder. When health problems made it difficult for her to paint after 1924, Beaux focused her energies on writing her autobiography, publishing Background with Figures in 1930. She died in 1942 at the age of eighty-seven.
Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952)
Tulips, n.d.
Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952), born in Philadelphia, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy between 1900 and 1907, and would return to teach there between 1917 and 1925. Carles returned regularly to Paris, often staying with Edward Steichen at his house in Voulangis, a small village about thirty miles from the city. In the spirit of Matisse, his work reveals the free handling of paint and brilliant Fauvist color that was the hallmark of his work through the twenties, by which time he was known as "the man who paints with color." Alfred Stieglitz included his work in a group show at his seminal gallery 291, and gave the artist his first one-man show in 1912. The luminous, floating colors of Tulips (1918), is a fine example of early American modernist still life.
Clarence Carter (1904-2000)
Study for the Barnesville Post Office Mural, 1935
The work of Clarence Holbrook Carter (1904-2000) is deeply rooted in the Ohio River Valley town of Portsmouth, located in the southern part of the state across the border from Kentucky. By the thirties, he had achieved his distinctive realist style, a powerful combination of the bleak loneliness of Edward Hopper and the more emotionally charged imagery of Charles Burchfield. Strongly regional in character, his realism was both nostalgic and hallucinatory, grounded in a vernacular vision. Even when he left Ohio, his memories of his native state continued to inform his vision. Wherever he lived, he remained an independent thinker: "My expression of America has been shaped by its vigor and vitality, its peace and calm and the spell of its past."
Carter sought support from the federal government, executing several murals. While Carter did not win the competition for Barnesville, Ohio, his 1935 entry portrays a typical theme. Pictured is a plane, a lighthouse, a train, and a structure that appears to be a new airplane terminal-all elements facilitating the efficient delivery of the mail. A postman wearing the gray-blue uniform of his profession and carrying a mail sack, concentrates on his task.
Between 1938 and 1944, Carter taught at Carnegie Tech. He found the city picturesque and full of character, but the smoke that inspired Gorson and Hailman made it, in his opinion "a miserable place to live." He regarded it as "the most important indictment of capitalism that I know." Wanting more time to devote to his painting, in 1944 he resigned his position, and moved to the quiet solitude of Bucks County, remaining there until 1948, when he settled in Milford, New Jersey, near the Delaware River.
Mary Cassatt (1845-1926)
Mother and Two Children, 1901
Cassatt had studied at the Academy for five years beginning in 1861, going abroad to continue her studies in 1866, making her Salon debut in 1868. Except for when she returned for a short period during the Franco-Prussian War, France would be her home for the rest of her life. Although an expatriate, her family's fortune derived from the Pennsylvania Railroad and gave her name a continuing economic presence in the state. She was the only American member of the French Impressionists, with whom she would exhibit beginning in 1877, and continuing until 1882.
Executed at the beginning of the artist's late period, Mother and Two Children (1901) was painted when the artist was fifty-six. At the turn of the twentieth century, her reputation was secure and her prestige in the international art world at its height: "The most eminent of living American women painters." During this period she traveled extensively, and her many social obligations meant she had less time to spend in her studio. Cassatt continued working until about 1915, when problems with her eyes forced her stop painting.
The painting portrays a typical subject she had explored in paintings, prints, and drawings for more than two decades. In contrast to the flaneur boulevardiers of the male Impressionists like her friend Degas, her subject is situated in distinctly female space, and is a domestic scene within the world of women. A graceful image of a woman with two children, the circular format evokes the Renaissance stability of Raphael's Madonnas. The ease of the mother's pose, emblematic of maternal affection, and the beautiful gown she wears show the cocooned comfort of their economic circumstance. Yet such a comfortable image could intersect modern political concerns. This painting was originally produced as part of a mural competition for the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Cassat, frustrated with the state of government and the amount of graft involved, eventually withdrew her work from the competition. In 1915, the painting was shown at Knoedler Gallery in New York, as part of a "Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Painters for the Benefit of Woman Suffrage," organized by Cassatt's good friend, collector Louisine Havemeyer.
Fern Coppedge (1883-1951)
Back Road to Pipersville, n.d.
"People used to think me queer when I was a little girl because I saw deep purples and reds and violets in a field of snow. I used to be hurt over it until I gave up trying to understand people and concentrated on my love and understanding of landscapes. Then it didn't make any difference."
-Fern I. Coppedge
Born in Illinois, Fern Isabel Coppedge studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League, and finally at the Pennsylvania Academy (1917-18), where one of her instructors was likely Daniel Garber. She was also a student at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, becoming active in the Philadelphia Ten between 1922 and 1935. In 1920 she purchased a house and studio across from Garber's. She favored the snowscapes that were common subjects for members of the New Hope group. Her Back Road to Pipersville portrays the route to a town not far from Lumberville, and its strong brushwork and lively color are typical of her paintings. Coppedge worked on a smaller scale than her male contemporaries, making sketches ahead of time.
Virginia Cuthbert (1908-2001)
Slum Clearance on Ruch's Hill, Pittsburgh, 1937
Born in West Newton, Virginia Cuthbert pursued a broad art training in America and abroad and as a result had a range of styles and subjects. As a child she had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, returning to the University of Pittsburgh in 1932, and a year later had her first solo show in the city. She continued to exhibit widely in Pittsburgh and in 1934 won a prize for the best painting by a woman from the Carnegie Institute, a reminder of the many challenges faced by women artists, often slighted by separate "women's awards." For more than a decade she lived in Pittsburgh, and her connection to the city deepened with her marriage to another artist from the city, Phillip Elliot (they would move to Buffalo in 1941.)
The Depression hit major American industrial cities hard, and Pittsburgh was no exception. Cuthbert's expressive Slum Clearance on Ruch's Hill, Pittsburgh (1937) responds to the dramatic social changes that took place during the thirties. Her scene, which was shown at the Carnegie International, portrays a group of African American women and children watching their homes in a blighted neighborhood being demolished by workmen, nearly all of whom are white. The scene is bleak, and it is not clear if the urban renewal it represents includes finding new homes for those who have been displaced. Her subdued colors convey the somber nature of her subject.
George Erickson (1893-1936)
Young Scientist, 1932
Born in Minnesota, George Ericson, working under the pseudonym Eugene Iverd, became famous as an illustrator, producing covers for the Saturday Evening Post, as well as images for other leading magazines. Advertisements were another important source of income for artists willing to undertake commercial work. In 1916, after a year of study at the St. Paul Art institute, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy. Drafted into the Army in 1918, the Armistice was declared before his outfit could be shipped out. He was then transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he taught art to wounded veterans. After his discharge from the Army in 1921, he secured a teaching position in Erie. He did well in his new position and soon was promoted to become the city-wide supervisor of art instruction. His illustration career took off during this period, and by 1926 he could cut back the hours he worked for the city. In a letter written to his mother, Ericson's enthusiasm about a career as an illustrator is evident:
Dear Precious Darling Mother:
Excuse this big salutation, but I can't wait another moment. I must tell you the good news. You will remember my telling you I submitted four canvases to The Saturday Evening Post. Well, yesterday I got a letter from them, and they told me they were very much interested and see possibilities in several. They also said that a Mr. Martin was coming to Erie to go over the pictures with me. Last night I got a telegram from them saying Mr. Martin would see me this evening. He came with the big canvases up to the house, and I talked with him for an hour. He told me so many things. I can't believe them even now.
I had a lot of other stuff to tell you, but Mother, I am too excited. Think of it, Mother. I was good enough to have them send a special man down to see me. If I can get in with them, Mother, you will have every thing you ever wished for. The big artists get from $1,000 to $1,500 for each of their covers.
He said they were anxious to find young men who could develop into cover artists. He said they received thousands of covers by artists trying to get in.... He said that they want young men who can grow with them.
Ericson's Young Scientist (1932) was a typical subject for a painter who preferred to paint children. Holding a magnifying glass, his youthful subject bends down to inspect an insect on a milkweed plant. His net, specimen jar, and binoculars are on the ground in front of him. With a pencil tucked in his ear, he is ready to jot down his observations in the notebook he holds in his left hand. Intent on his task, the sunny summer atmosphere conveys the optimism typical of his work. Although the depression was in full force, one senses the optimistic possibility of a bright future.
Daniel Garber (1880-1958)
Spring Valley Inn, 1940
Born in Indiana, Daniel Garber was the son of a Pennsylvania Mennonite farmer. After attending summer classes at the Derby School of Painting in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, with Thomas Anshutz and Hugh Breckenridge, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy in 1899. He spent six years there, studying with William Merritt Chase, and possibly Cecilia Beaux. After two years in Europe, he returned to Pennsylvania in 1909, taking a teaching position at the Pennsylvania Academy, where he would remain an instructor until 1950. In his Lumberville studio, he produced some of the handsomest landscapes and figure paintings produced by any Pennsylvania Impressionist. His graceful and lyrical compositions were inspired by scenes near his home. A skilled figure painter, his poetic canvases reveal his thoroughly academic training and strong drawing skills in their harmonious presentation.
At the time he painted Spring Valley Inn (1940), Garber was well established and successful. The canvas conveys the warmth of late summer at his home, his flickering brushwork capturing the kind of idyllic scene favored by both French and American Impressionists. His use of broken patches of color also suggest an understanding of Post-Impressionism.
William Glackens (1870-1938)
The Easter Hat, c. 1930
Born in Philadelphia, William Glackens began his career as a newspaper illustrator. After meeting Robert Henri in 1891, he was inspired to pursue a painting career. Five years later, he moved to New York and joined The Eight in 1908. Glackens was a principle member of the Ashcan school although his work bordered on Impressionism rather than Social Realism. The Ashcan school was a group of urban realist painters in America creating work around the early part of 20th century. The group, founded by the artist and teacher Robert Henri, began its activities in Philadelphia around 1891.
The Ashcan school was more revolutionary in its subject matter rather than its style. The Ashcan school artists sought to paint "real life" and urban reality. These artists believed what was real and true in life was what was beautiful and what constituted "art." They painted gritty urban scenes and the poor and disenfranchised in America.
His early paintings share the dark tones of Manet and Hals favored by several of the leading members of The Eight, but after spending six summers at Bellport on Long Island between 1911 and 1916, his palette brightened. After 1914, he took on less commercial work in order to concentrate more on his painting. In the thirties, he painted some handsome figural compositions, of which The Easter Hat (c. 1930) is a strong example of the reserved formality characteristic of his studio work.
Aaron Harry Gorson (1872-1933)
Monongahela Steel Mills and Barges, 1912
Aaron Harry Gorson was born June 2, 1872, in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. Kovno was a city with a thriving textile industry, and at age thirteen Gorson was apprenticed to a tailor. In 1888 he immigrated to the United States to join an older brother in Philadelphia. He soon found employment and worked as a machine operator in a clothing factory during the day, while at night he attended classes at the Spring Garden Institute to pursue his dream of becoming a painter.
He settled in Pittsburgh in 1903, and soon began to paint the city's steel mills. Most he painted from the outside, though occasionally he made dramatic interior views. The industrial landscape remained his favorite theme until he moved to New York in 1921, and his night scenes of the Bessemer furnaces convey the dark beauty of his subjects, some of which he painted at dusk to emphasize a poetic mood. Like most of the artists who were inspired by industry before the Depression, he was little concerned with the labor conditions inside, and Monongahela Steel Mills and Barges (1912) is typical of his Pittsburgh work. Smoke, whether it came from smokestacks or trains, appealed to Gorson and was a strong formal element of his paintings of the rugged mills. But the smoke, soot, and fumes that were characteristic of the nation's capitol of coal and steel may have been picturesque to the artists who painted it, but the air pollution created by these industries was a public health problem for those who lived nearby.
Johanna Hailman (1871-1958)
Mills, Trains, and Barges, 1940
In the twentieth century, women increasingly challenged societal strictures about appropriate female behavior. More women became artists than ever before, though their careers were often less successful and they were judged by a different standard. The daughter of wealthy Pittsburgh painter who married a steel industrialist, Johanna Hailman could have settled for a life of privilege and amateur painting. Yet this woman possessed of a strong personality and exuberant energy who linked Pittsburgh's art and social worlds did not settle for the easy route, and combined an art career with a strong commitment to civic service. When she showed in New York in the 1920s, Forbes Watson characterized her as an individual "troubled by no doubts and no hesitation." By the 1930s, Hailman was regarded as "Pittsburgh's foremost woman artist" and the "dowager doyen of Pittsburgh," yet this painter still had more than twenty-five years left in her career. An avid gardener, she was well known for her paintings of flowers, regarded as an acceptable subject for a woman artist. She was also an art patron who for many years annually purchased a painting from the Carnegie International (she bequeathed her collection to the Carnegie). Her work was shown in the International beginning with the first exhibit held in 1896 when she was twenty-five, and exhibited every year thereafter (except two) until 1955, three years before her death at the age of eighty-seven.
Hailman shared Gorson's enthusiasm for industrial subject matter, as seen in her stunning Mills, Trains, and Barges (1940). Portraying industry and technology remained a largely masculine enterprise, but some powerful images were created by Hailman. Many of her works were inspired by the seascapes and landscapes she saw on her travels (she wintered in Nassau), and gardens, she could also powerfully portray the spectacle of the smoking mills of the industrial city that remained her lifelong home. Other strong works include her Jones and Laughlin Mill (c. 1925-30, Carnegie Institute) whose buildings and fumy smokestacks capture the visual essence of one of the city's leading industry.
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Gitana Vieja (Madre Gitana), 1912
Born Robert Henry Cozad, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the artist took the surname, Henri (pronounced Hen-rye), when he was eighteen because his family was forced to change their identities after his father killed a man in self defense. The name reflected his French heritage, although Henri insisted on an American pronunciation.
After a rather tumultuous childhood, Henri studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia under Thomas Anshutz (1852-1912) where he was instructed in the realist tradition. He later traveled to Europe where he came briefly under the influence of the impressionists, although his palette retained the dark, earth tones of the Philadelphia school.
While in Philadelphia, Henri became a mentor to several younger artists who gathered at his Walnut Street studio to hear his philosophy of art and share criticisms. Four of these painters, together with Henri, were later to form the core of The Eight, a radical group of artists who defended artistic freedom against the strictures of the National Academy in New York after the turn-of-the-century. John Sloan (1871-1951), George Luks (1867-1933), Everett Shinn (1876-1953), and William Glackens (1870-1938) were to remain life-long friends even after they went their separate ways as they each earned their own reputations.
During the summer of 1912, Henri was in Spain with his second wife Marjorie and a group of students. The artist relished painting ordinary people who struck him as full of life and character, about whom he took a broad humanistic vantage:
"The people I like to paint are 'my people,' whoever they may be, wherever they may exist, the people through whom dignity of life is manifest, that is, who are in some way expressing themselves naturally along the lines Nature intended for them. My people may be old or young, rich or poor, I may speak their language or I may communicate with them only by gestures. But wherever I find them, the Indian at work in the white man's way, the Spanish gypsy moving back to the freedom of the hills, the little boy, quiet and reticent before the stranger, my interest is awakened and my impulse is to tell about them through my own language: drawing and painting in color."
Gitana Vieja (Madre Gitana) of 1912 illustrates Henri's words, and the artist was evidently struck by his subject's red skirt and contrasting dark top.
Roy Hilton (1892-1963)
Light Snow, c. 1948
Roy Hilton grew up Winchester, Massachusetts and attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts before entering the Eric Pape School to study art. In 1928 he came to Pittsburgh to become an instructor at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) the beginning of a nearly thirty year teaching career.
Landscape remained a popular theme throughout the forties. Light Snow (c. 1948) by Roy Hilton depicts the artist's house as seen from his driveway. Although each element is entirely recognizable, the low horizon line, sharp angle of vision, and the startling coral sky create a surreal effect. The artist, a native of Boston, came to teach at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1928, remaining on the faculty for nearly thirty years.
Joseph Hirsch
Editorial, 1942
Joseph Hirsch (1910-1981), born in Philadelphia, was a student of George Luks in New York. Working as a painter and a printmaker, the strong graphic techniques he employed in his etchings and lithographs, informed the canvases of this artist who possessed a keen social conscience. His mature style was established by the time of his first one-man show in 1937, and in Editorial (1942), he portrays the ordinary working class subject this social-realist artist typically favored.
John Kane (1860-1934)
Turtle Creek Valley No. 1, c. 1930
An American painter of Scottish birth, Kane immigrated to western Pennsylvania in 1879. He worked as a bricklayer, coal miner, steel worker and carpenter in the Ohio River valley and, in 1890, began to sketch local scenery. After losing his leg in a train accident in 1891, he was employed painting railway carriages. When his son died in 1904, Kane left his family and spent years wandering and working in odd jobs. His earliest surviving paintings date from around 1910. Settling in Pittsburgh, he worked as a house painter and in his spare time painted portraits, religious subjects, the city's urban landscape and memories of his Scottish childhood. In 1927 the jury of the Carnegie International Exhibition, Pittsburgh, encouraged by the painter-juror Andrew Dasburg, accepted Kane's Scene in the Scottish Highlands. Kane's success, at first considered a hoax by the press, was based on the modernist interest in primitive and folk art. His work was regarded as non-academic and boldly original and he became the first contemporary American folk artist to be recognized by a museum.
His Turtle Creek Valley 1 (c. 1930), was one of several inspired by this view. Pittsburgh's many valleys and rivers made it a city of bridges, common elements in his work. Kane's painting depicts the sturdy concrete spans of the George Westinghouse Bridge. The artist had a keen eye for local detail, and the city's bridges, trains, and hills were among his favorite subjects: "I find beauty everywhere in Pittsburgh. It is the beauty of the past which the present has not touched. The city is my own."
Albert King (1854-1945)
Still Life with Watermelon on a Wood Crate, n.d.
Albert F. King was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and became one of the city's best-known artists. A member of the Scalp Level artists led by George Hetzel, King, although a generation younger, traveled with the group to the remote area near Johnstown, Pennsylvania where they painted landscapes in the summer months. King also studied with Martin B. Leisser, a landscape and portrait painter who was an influential leader in Pittsburgh's art circles. King became a master in portraiture, but also painted still lifes, landscapes, and genre scenes often for his own pleasure. He made a living by painting portraits for the city's bank presidents and business professionals. Many portraits of the distinguished men of Pittsburgh hung in the Duquesne Club, a private club of which King was a member as well.
His undated Still Life with Watermelon on a Wood Crate, a humble subject he painted several times, continues the trompe l'oeil realist traditions of the Peale family, John Frederick Peto, and William M. Harnett. His compositions are simple and straightforward, with the dark background serving to highlight his tasty subject. A wedge has been cut out so a beverage may be poured in, and the knife stuck in the bright green rind, with the pink fruit being the chief color notes.
George Luks (1867-1933)
The Guitar (Portrait of the Artist's Brother with his Son), 1908
George Luks, a native of the logging town of Williamsport, moved with his family to Shenandoah in coal country when he was about six. His father was a doctor, and his upbringing a comfortable one. After study at the Pennsylvania Academy for a month in 1884, he went abroad. In 1894 he took a position as a staff artist with the Philadelphia Press, which is where he met the other newspaper artists who became part of Henri's circle. Moving to New York in 1896, he was hired by the New York World, where he was joined by Glackens and Shinn in 1897.
The Guitar (1908) in its dark coloration and brushy style is typical of his early work, when his gusto for ordinary people and the street life of the Lower East Side is evident. In 1925, he returned for the summer to Pottsville, where his family had lived for a short time while he was growing up, to do a mural at a local hotel on the theme of the coal industry. While there, he executed a series of canvases portraying Pennsylvania anthracite miners in the mid twenties. Like many members of The Eight, Luks was a professor of art, first at the Arts Student League and later, at a school he established himself.
Luks traveled widely and led a life full of incident, but because he was an inveterate storyteller who cultivated a flamboyant public persona, it is often hard to separate myth from fact. Shinn described him as "a glutton for existence." The subject matter, style, and quality of his work varies widely, but he loved to paint and was fascinated by the life around him.
Norwood MacGilvary (1874-1961)
Here and Elsewhere, c. 1944
Norwood Hodge MacGilvary was born in Bangkok, Siam on November 14, 1874 of American parents. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley, Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco, with Myron Barlow in England and Laurens in Paris. A resident of New York and Providence, Rhode Island, he was again in San Francisco for an extended period during the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915.
Norwood MacGilvary's symbolic Here and Elsewhere (c. 1944) was inspired by current events. The cosmic scene painted by this normally realistic artist, features the moon, stars, and galaxies. The artist, who taught at Carnegie Tech between 1921 and 1943, reflects his interest in philosophy which he had earlier studied at the University of California. A giant baby sits on the earth, his raised right arm shaking a red rattle. Two eruptions are visible, referencing World War II being fought in European and Pacific theatres. The catastrophe represented by the war is also seen in the comet that streaks between the earth and the moon. But the artist's unusual image is not without hope, although the war had not yet ended when the artist painted his canvas. Not only is the baby's expression open and full of eager expectation, the face of God is seen at the right. His head is topped with a galaxial swirl of concern, and the intense blue of his eyes echoed in the comet. His hand protectively cradles the planet that has been wracked by global conflict.
Violet Oakley (1874-1961)
Unity (Study for International Understanding and Unity Mural, Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg), 1906
Violet Oakley is considered by some to have been America's greatest woman muralist of the early 20th century. The success of her murals that were painted in the Pennsylvania state capitol led to many commissions and international reputation as a painter of moral and idealistic subjects.
Oakley's early works showcased her confidence and independence as a woman artist. As she traveled and studied in America and Europe, she exuberantly painted portraits and landscapes in a spontaneous, impressionistic style. Violet's shift to illustration and mural painting was related to the onset of her father's illness in 1896.
Forty-four feet long, International Understanding and Unity is the largest of her Capitol murals. Its scale necessitated the enlargement of her studio, and the artist painted on canvas from many studies, working on a moveable scaffold without assistants. Her idealistic and ambitious composition is replete with symbolism "in which she depicted a world free from war and oppression, united by international cooperation." She inscribed her allegorical panel with a passage from the Apocalypse: "He carried me away to a great and high mountain and showed me the Great City and he showed me a pure river of Water of Life as crystal proceeding out of the throne. The Leaves of the Tree were for the Healing of Nations." The monumental figure of a woman with outstretched arms serves as the "keystone" of her composition allegorically conveys the artist's thematic vision. She symbolizes the Water of Life or Unity. Other panels portray "The End of Warfare," "The End of Slavery" (based on Penn's principles), includes Man removing the shackles of Woman. That she has portrayed an image of a strong female references the women's suffrage movement of the time.
Malcolm Parcell (1896-1987)
Portrait of Helen Gallagher, c. 1928
Malcolm Parcell, the son of a minister, grew up in Washington, Pennsylvania, where his father was pastor of the Broad Street Baptist Church. He returned home after his graduation from Carnegie Tech in 1918, and soon met Helen Louine Gallagher, who became his wife in 1937 when she was thirty-four. His portrait of her, Louine (1918, Board of Public Education, Pittsburgh), painted when she was fifteen, earned for him his first acclaim, winning a medal when it was exhibited the next year at the National Academy of Design. She remained his favorite model, and the profile pose of his 1943 full-figure portrait of her is unusual. She was a public school teacher in Washington, though her stylish bobbed hair and dress suggest a night out rather than classroom attire. Her pose implies some discomfort, as one of her arms rests on the arm of the chair, while the other is draped over the back, her tense fingers perhaps signaling impatience with posing.
Horace Pippin (1888-1946)
Losing the Way, n.d.
Horace Pippin was born in West Chester Pennsylvania. He was a self taught artist whose subject matter ranged from paintings of childhood memories, war experiences, personal heroes and religion. These paintings were widely exhibited and became fashionable along the Main Line in Philadelphia. Pippin once commented, "When I was a boy I loved to make pictures", but it was World War I that "brought out all the art in me. I can never forget suffering and I will never forget sunsetso I came home with all of it in my mind and I paint from it today.
Pippin recorded his experiences in writing as well. His "Life Story of Art" and other memoirs of his military service include descriptions of life in the trenches, night forays into no man's land and losing his platoon to machine gun fire. Pippin lost the use of his right arm after being shot by a German sniper. He adapted by using his left hand to guide his right while painting.
His winter scene Losing the Way (1930) was painted in oil on a burnt-wood panel, suggesting the highly individualized technical approaches taken by folk artists. A man walks in the snow beside a horse-drawn covered wagon in search of the path, which has been covered by snow. The painting is small as the artist's disability limited his ability to work on a large scale. It was one of a series of oil on burnt-wood panels he executed. He would draw his designs in pencil, then burning the line with a hot poker, before applying paint.
Hobson Pittman (1900-1972)
Heavy Furnace, 1933
Hobson Pittman's brooding Heavy Furnace (1933) conveys not the dramatic display of industrial production, but rather the bleak isolation that was often the condition of modern industrial life. The artist grew up in rural North Carolina, moving to Philadelphia in 1918. He attended Penn State University (1921-22) and Columbia University (1924-25), before enrolling in Carnegie Tech in 1926. In 1931, he began what would be a long teaching career at Philadelphia area institutions, including the Academy, where he taught between 1949 and 1972. Some of his canvases convey a mood of "strange nostalgic fantasy," informed by the moody memory of his Southern childhood and an enthusiasm for the Victorian era. The industrial subject is an unusual one for Pittman.
Joseph Plavcan (1908-1981)
Classroom, 1940
In 1926 Joseph Plavcan began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy, where his teacher, George Ericson, had also studied. Plavcan did well in his studies, winning a Cresson Scholarship to study and travel in Europe in 1928. In 1931 Plavcan returned to Erie. The next year he took a teaching position at Erie Technical High School, where he taught between 1932 and 1970. By the time of his retirement, he had earned a reputation as Erie's most influential art teacher and had earned the respect of several generations of students. Scenes from the city inspired him throughout his half-century career.
Plavcan's Classroom (1940) presents the constants in his life: his art, his students, and his interest in the community around him. While Erie Tech was a trade school whose purpose was to teach students practical skills with which they could secure employment after graduation, he gave his vocational art classes a broad general grounding in the fine arts. To hone their skills of observation, he took them outside to draw and paint from nature. When it was too cold to do this during the winter, his students worked from models or modest still life arrangements inside. In this scene, four students are visible. One pauses to look directly at the artist, while the other three are absorbed in their drawings. The class is diverse, with an African-American, two women, and a young white man. On the window sill may be seen a small collection of plaster casts taken from Renaissance and classical works. Outside a wintry landscape is visible. The trees are bare of leaves and the ground snow covered.
Edward Redfield (1869-1965)
Fleecydale Road, n.d.
The most influential member of the New Hope school was Edward Redfield (1869-1965, who moved to Center Bridge in 1898, the first of the group to settle in the area. He had studied at the Academy during the late 1880s before going abroad. His early friendship with Robert Henri, with whom he would travel, serves as a reminder that many of these artistic circles were permeable, with considerable stylistic overlap. His several trips to France during the 1890s introduced him to plein air painting, and thereafter he painted out of doors year round. He completed his canvases in a single day, and remains best known for his large snow scenes. Fleecydale Road captures the small scale of village life in the region, and his muted palette conveys a typical overcast winter day. One of the most successful landscape painters of his day, after his first one-man show at the Academy in 1896, his work was exhibited widely.
Samuel Rosenberg (1896-1972)
God's Chillun, 1934
Born in Philadelphia, Samuel Rosenberg, who would become known as "The Dean of Pittsburgh Painters," moved with his family to that city in 1907 at the age of eleven. He taught at Carnegie Tech for forty years (1924-1964), where he had earned his degree in 1926, as well as at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College, 1937-1945).
Beginning as a portraitist, he later made many paintings portraying the socioeconomic life of the inner city. Artists nationwide pursued an art of social protest and conscience as conditions worsened for the urban poor throughout the Depression. Rosenberg's Social Realist God's Chillun (1934) portrays an incident of African-American street life in Pittsburgh's Hill District. A religious revival proceeds down Crawford Street, led by a large woman at the center who wears a white dress emblazoned with sash bearing the words "Faith, Hope, and Charity." She sings and bangs a drum, accompanied by a crowd of others with cymbals and trumpets. The neighborhood where the artist lived also had a large Jewish population. Many other canvases were inspired by the scenes he saw near his home, including Eviction (1935). His pantings became more expressively abstract in style during the forties.
Morton Livingston Schamberg
The Machine, 1916
The career of Morton Livingson Schamberg (1881-1918) was cut tragically short at the age of thirty-seven in 1918 when he fell victim to the international flu pandemic that swept the world that year. He had been born in Philadelphia, and earned an architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1903. But by the time he had graduated he realized that he preferred painting and drawing to designing buildings. After pursuing summer classes with William Merritt Chase (1902-1903), he enrolled in the Academy (1903-1906). One of his fellow students, Charles Sheeler, became one of his closest friends, and the pair traveled to Europe together. They also shared a studio, and spent weekends in Sheeler's Doylestown home. His second trip to Paris (1908-09) was pivotal, and his encounter with the work of Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso changed the direction of his work. In 1910, he had his first one-man show, and several of his pieces were included in the Armory Show. His work, which developed rapidly, shows a range of influences, including Fauvism, Cubism, Synchromism, and Dada, the latter which saw form in a series of fascinating mechanical abstractions, as seen in Machine (1916).
Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944)
Early May Morning, n.d.
Walter Elmer Schofield was born in Philadelphia in 1867. He attended Swarthmore College and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before leaving for Paris to study at the Academie Julian. Schofield moved to England and settled in the St. Ives art colony at Cornwall. Here he practiced the tradition of plein air landscape painting and developed his impressionistic style.
Schofield is remembered for his impressionistic winter scenes of the Deleware River in Pennsylvania and various landscapes in England. His paintings are rich and infused with a brilliant cobalt blue. Most of his work is not signed and must be authenticated by an expert art historian.
His Early May Morning (c. 1919), a painting of his middle years, was inspired by structures in a rural Cornwall village, but its landscape theme, bright colors, and the fact it was painted outdoors all are hallmarks of the Pennsylvania Impressionists.
Charles Sheeler (1882-1965)
Bird's Nest, 1944
Charles Sheeler (1882-1965), a contemporary of fellow Pennsylvania Precisionist Charles Demuth (1883-1935), portrayed the plain structure of Bucks County barns and the Ephrata Cloister in Reading with the scientific precision of observation of the Machine Age. While he did not paint Pennsylvania industry, his images of factories and mills were quintessential Precisionist works in their combination of modernism and realism. A student at the Pennsylvania Academy between 1903 and 1906, his particular American modernism was solidly grounded in both a sense of place and an appreciation for the past. Sheeler had a strong interest in antiques and craft artifacts, as well as in historic buildings, whose straightforward design resonated with his modernist paintings. His Pennsylvania interests persisted even when not working in the state, and Bird's Nest (1944) portrays the Victorian house in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, where he moved in 1942.
Everett Shinn (1876-1953)
Green Ballet, 1943
As a member of the Ashcan school, Everitt Shinn was a multitalented artist who worked as an illustrator, muralist and even a playwright. Shinn began his artistic career as an artist-reporter for the Philadelphia Press. During that time he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy until 1897 when he moved to New York City. Shinn worked as an illustrator throughout his life, but only when it suited him or if his financial situation demanded it.
From 1899 to 1911, he completed a series of murals and panel paintings for private homes, the Stuyvesant Theater and City Hall in Trenton N.J.
Shinn used a variety of subject matter in his paintings. Life in the slums as well as middle-class café society were all scenes that he enjoyed painting. He felt that all aspects of city life were there for the people to savor and enjoy.
His Green Ballet (1943), painted when the artist was sixty-seven years old, thematically and stylistically evokes his work from the turn of the twentieth century. Although an oil, it possesses the sketchiness of his pastels. He was skilled at portraying the American vaudeville and variety theatre, he enjoyed representing female dancers, often in the spirit of Edgar Degas, who had immersed himself in the world of classical ballerinas. Shinn painted his first theatrical piece in 1900, and ballet pieces also date from this period. That he was able to sustain a lively vision for more than forty years reveals the strength of his visual engagement with these subjects.
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Girl, Back to Piano, 1932
John Sloan was born in the small Pennsylvania town of Lock Haven in 1871. He was a student of the Pennsylvania Academy and worked as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Press. In 1905 Sloan moved to New York City where he also worked as an illustrator. Sloan was a member of the Ashcan school and taught at the Art Students League of NYC. He played an important role in organizing the Society for Independent Artists and served as the president for some time.
Sloan is best known for his paintings and etchings of city life and nude studies. Although Sloan preferred to depict the "common people" in his artwork, he is quoted as saying, "I never mingled with the people, and the sympathy and understanding I have for the common people as they are meanly called, I feel as a spectator of life". Sloan's works are part of the permanent collections of leading museums throughout the U.S.
Girl, Back to the Piano (1932) is a typical work in his later style. Sloan taught for twenty-five years, and the subject is Gitel Kahn, a student of his at the Art Students League with whom he was romantically involved for several years during this period. Executed in tempera on panel, his medium and technique suggests a Renaissance formality in contrast to the relaxed pose of his attractive subject who looks directly at the artist with an engaged expression, her relaxed and confident gaze reveal their comfortable relationship. The artist was pleased with the resolution of the formal elements of this painting: "An excellent color tonal quality pervades this canvas. The linear texture comes and goes, here and there, and is perhaps on that account very satisfactory. The nature of the light is well expressed. The photo seems to search out the painting more than the eye does." Kahn posed for a number of works for him, one of which the artist noted his admiration of her "warm brown torso."
Robert Spencer (1879-1931)
On the Canal, New Hope, 1916
Robert Spencer (1879-1931, a native of Nebraska, began studying art at the National Academy of Design in 1899, where his teachers included William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. He moved to Bucks County in 1906, and in 1909 lived and studied with Garber, who although younger was already well established. His finances remained tight for some years, but he began to achieve success by the mid-teens. Unfortunately an increasingly unhappy marriage and chronic depression caused a series of mental breakdowns which affected his ability to work. Although renewed by trips to Europe throughout the twenties, his demons proved overwhelming, and he committed suicide at the age of fifty-one in 1931.
In On the Canal, New Hope (1916), Spencer reveals his fascination with the architecture and people of the area. Reflecting his internal struggles, his paintings are at once more somber in mood than Garber's, often portraying the local mills and daily activities of local residents in the tradition of the Ashcan School. The composition is typical of the artist's oeuvre, with water in the foreground and women engaged in daily tasks. The backdrop of dilapidated tenements references the nearby mills that employed them, though the local industry was gentler than that of Pittsburgh. His interest in working class subjects is unusual for a Pennsylvania Impressionist.
Walter Stuempfig (1914-1970)
Altercation, 1955
Walter Stuempfig, a prolific painter who produced more than 1500 works, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a wealthy family, and as a result did not have the usual financial worries that plagued so many artists. He began four years of study at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1931, where one of his teachers was Daniel Garber. He first showed at the Academy in 1932, but his success as an artist dates from 1942 when his work was included in the "Artists for Victory" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He himself was on the Academy faculty beginning in 1948, and continuing until his death in 1970. Working in a neo-romantic and introspective realist style grounded in a long tradition of western figure painting, many of his works have an oddly surreal quality and yet are connected to nineteenth century academicism. He had a deep respect for the Old Masters, and his vision was distinctively expressive.
In Stuempfig's Altercation, the odd dislocation of his moody imagery reminds viewers that his vision is grounded in twentieth century narratives. In this enigmatic canvas, a psychological narrative of alienation is conveyed. Three figures are seated in a non-descript room-two men and a woman (when it was shown at the Academy in 1956, it was titled The Sybil).
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)
Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures, c. 1909
Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African-American painter to achieve an international reputation. Born in Pittsburgh, the son of a minister, his family moved to Philadelphia when he was a child. Encouraged by his father to follow him into the ministry, Tanner was determined to be an artist, and in 1879 enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy. His major teacher was Thomas Eakins, with whom he would study off and on until 1885. Tanner gained rigorous training in drawing and figure painting that was the hallmark of the Academy's program. It was not easy for a person of color to have a career in the fine arts, and several difficult years followed his Academy classes. But supporters helped him amass sufficient funds to study in Paris at the Académie Julian, and early in 1891 he left for Paris. Deciding to make one last attempt to achieve professional success in America, he returned to Philadelphia.
Tanner's canvas, Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures (c. 1909), is typical of his mature work. A handsomely painted figural composition, his Biblical rendition displays his considerable technical and compositional skills. To insure that his paintings were as authentic as possible, he made several trips to Palestine. His models were his wife Jessie and his son Jesse, the couple's only child who had been born in 1903. For Tanner, realism was both a celebration of his family as well as an article of faith. His canvas does not illustrate a particular passage from the Bible, but refers more generally to the long tradition of imaging the Madonna and child. Thematically it has intriguing connections with the work of Mary Cassatt, who, like Tanner, lived in Paris, and who showed the influence of the strong academic training they both gained in Philadelphia and Paris.
A. Brian Wall (1861-1935)
Shepherd and Sheep in Winter Landscape, n.d.
Alfred Bryan Wall, the son of painter Alfred S. Wall and the nephew of William Coventry Wall, spent most his life in Pittsburgh. When he resided for a short time in Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century, he became friends with Eakins, who painted his portrait. He is best known for his autumnal animalscapes of sheep, a subject he regularly portrayed from the 1880s on. Imbued with the spirit of the French Barbizon painters, the flocks that graze peacefully in his pastoral Shepherd and Sheep in Winter Landscape suggest a pre-modern sensibility. His father had served for a short time on the original board of the Carnegie Museum, and at his death, A. Bryan Wall succeeded him.
Christian Walter (1872-1938)
Pittsburgh, 1937
Christian Walter was born in Old Allegheny on the North Side of Pittsburgh in 1872. He had no formal art training and yet, led a long and successful career as an artist. Walter's work was included in the first Carnegie International Exhibition, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Pennsylvania Academy.
Christian was very loyal to his hometown of Pittsburgh. He kept a studio downtown in the Penn Building and participated in the annual shows of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh until his death in 1938.
Christian Walter died in 1938 after complications due to an emergency operation. He was honored with a retrospective of 75 of his paintings at the Craft Avenue Associated Artists Gallery and a memorial exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
In Pittsburgh (1937), done under the Works Progress Administration (WPA -- an organization created to help provide economic relief to the citizens of the United States who were suffering through the Great Depression), the artist has focused on the raggedy housing cobbled together near the mills that provided employment for residents. The smoke stacks of the mills provide the backdrop. Its less celebratory character conveys the sense of endless work to gain a meager living that was the lot of many who lived there. Walter was committed to local subject matter: "It is a mistake for artists of this district to leave the environs of Pittsburgh to seek material for landscape painting. To my mind no other place in the world has the wealth of material that can be found here at home."
Everett Warner (1877-1963)
As the Sparks Fly Upward, 1940
Everett Longly Warner was born on July 16, 1877 in Vinton Iowa. He studied art at the Corcoran Art School in Washington D.C. from 1897-1898. In 1898 he moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students League for 2 years. In 1903 he traveled to Paris and studied at the Academie Julian.
Warner served in the Navy during World War I as a producer of camouflage for ships and was the originator of one of five systems of camouflage approved by the ship protection commission of the War Risk Bureau. He was promoted in 1918 to Lieutenant and was placed in charge of the Sub-Section of Design of U.S. Naval Camouflage. After serving in the War, Everett married and moved to Pittsburgh taking a teaching position at the Carnegie Technical Institute, where he would remain until his retirement in 1945. Pittsburgh inspired Warner and he produced many paintings of city and industrial life. Warner's art career brought him many honors and awards. Warner died in 1963 at the age of 86.
His As the Sparks Fly Upward (1940) shows one of the mills along the river in the background volcanically belching flames, as the Bessemer furnaces shot bursts of fire into the sky. In the foreground is housing for factory workers. The wintry scene is bleak, and the mood conveyed is similar to that of Walter.
Franklin Watkins (1894-1972)
Portrait of Jane Drummond (Remember Me), c. 1943
Franklin Watkins came to Pennsylvania by a circuitous route. Born in New York, he grew up in North Carolina. He enrolled first at the University of Virginia and then at the University of Pennsylvania, before entering the Pennsylvania Academy, where he studied on and off between 1913 and 1918 (he began his twenty-five year teaching career there in 1943). Thereafter he remained in Philadelphia for most of his career, and by the mid-twenties his distinctive romantic realist style had emerged. He became famous in 1931, when his Suicide in Costume (Philadelphia Museum of Art) won first prize at the Carnegie International. The expressive style, unusual color sensibility, distortion of form and gesture are all typical of his work. The artist's first one-man show was held in 1934.
Andrew Carnduff Ritchie felt Watkins produced "some of the finest portraits painted today in America," many prominent Philadelphians posed for him. His Portrait of Jane Drummond (also titled Remember Me) is an ethereal image of his youthful subject, a girl in her late teens clad in a white dress. Her dreamy pose shows the artist's interest in creating a psychological mood rather than making a dutiful rendition of his subject's features: "Early in the game I rejected my gift for quick and easy likenesses in suspicion that it was too easily come by." Rather than recording a subject exactly, he interpreted what he saw, desiring to make "a picture of an image from that model that took shape in my head." The subject, Jane Drummond, was an English girl who lived with an American family during World War II. A ribbon trails from the nosegay she holds with the inscription "Remember Me," which combined with the 1945 date, implies that with the end of the war she may soon be returning to her native land. Her age also suggests she might also have just graduated from high school, when such mementos would have been popular.
N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945)
The Mysterious Island, 1918
Newell Convers Wyeth was born on October 22, 1882 in Needham, Massachusetts. Wyeth was a painter and illustrator whose first published work appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1903. He illustrated editions of books such as Treasure Island, The Yearling, Robinson Crusoe, The Last of the Mohicans, Kidnapped and Robin Hood. Wyeth lived in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania for most of his artistic career. The Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford displays a significant collection of his work.
N.C. Wyeth was the father of American Artist Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth died in an automobile accident along with his grandson in 1945.
N.C. Wyeth's handsome oil The Mysterious Island (1918) was the cover image for Jules Verne's novel first published as L'Ile Mystérieuse in 1874. In addition to the cover, he made fourteen illustrations and a frontispiece for this volume, as well as dozens of pen and ink drawings. While Wyeth preferred Stevenson in terms of imagination and writing, he realized Verne's book "offers splendid material for my brush."

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