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Avis Berman

(b Roxbury, MA, Sept 14, 1867; d New York, NY, Dec 23, 1944).

American illustrator. Gibson’s graphic creation, the “Gibson Girl,” became a symbol of upper-middle-class American womanhood from 1890 to 1914. The Gibson Girl’s appearance and dress were widely imitated and her popularity helped shape social attitudes at a time when women’s roles were undergoing dramatic changes.

Growing up in Massachusetts and New York City, Gibson entered the Art Students League at 16, studying there for two years. In 1885 he left school to make a living as an illustrator. Gibson drew in pen-and-ink, his medium for the rest of his career, but his early sketches were stiff and labored. In 1886 he sold his first drawing for $4 to Life, a weekly humor magazine. Emulating the draftsmanship of the British cartoonists John Leech, Charles Keene, George Du Maurier and Phil(ip William) May, Gibson developed a freer and more economical style. He successfully sold arch scenes of politics and society to Life...

Article

Peter Bermingham

(b Richmond, VA, Nov 10, 1827; d New York, March 31, 1912).

American painter and stained-glass designer. He grew up in Clarksville, TN, where his stepfather was a tailor and his mother a milliner. In 1846 his request to be accepted as Asher B. Durand’s pupil was turned down, but Newman managed three years later to exhibit in the American Art-Union in New York. In 1850 he studied with Thomas Couture in Paris for five months. On a second trip to Paris in 1854, he visited Jean-François Millet in Barbizon. He worked as a portrait painter and occasional teacher of drawing, before serving briefly as an artillery lieutenant in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he apparently remained in New York, apart from a trip to Barbizon in 1882 and to Paris in 1908.

Although in 1872–3 he advertised himself as a portrait painter in Nashville, TN, and in the 1870s worked briefly as a stained-glass designer, Newman was primarily a painter of small compositions with a few figures, usually with a well-known religious, literary, or secular theme. One of his favourite subjects was the Virgin and Child (e.g. ...