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Article

Pamela H. Simpson

(b Philadelphia, PA, April 1, 1852; d London, Aug 1, 1911).

American painter, illustrator, and muralist, active also in England. Abbey began his art studies at the age of 14 in his native Philadelphia where he worked with Isaac L. Williams (1817–95). Two years later he enrolled in night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art working under Christian Schussele (1824–1979), but by then Abbey was already a published illustrator. In the 1870s his drawings appeared in numerous publications, but it was his work for Harper & Brothers that proved most important to his career. In 1871 he moved to New York, and in 1878, Harper’s sent him on a research trip to England. He found such affinity with the country that he made it his home for the rest of his life. After 1889 he devoted more time to painting, was elected a Royal Academician in 1898, and in 1902 was chosen by Edward VII (...

Article

Term used to describe a movement of the 1870s and 1880s that manifested itself in the fine and decorative arts and architecture in Britain and subsequently in the USA. Reacting to what was seen as evidence of philistinism in art and design, it was characterized by the cult of the beautiful and an emphasis on the sheer pleasure to be derived from it. In painting there was a belief in the autonomy of art, the concept of Art for Art’s Sake, which originated in France as a literary movement and was introduced into Britain around 1860.

The Aesthetic Movement was championed by the writers and critics Walter Pater, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. In keeping with Pater’s theories, the artists associated with it painted pictures without narrative or significant subject-matter. Dante Gabriel Rossetti took his inspiration from Venetian art because of its emphasis on colour and the decorative. This resulted in a number of half-length paintings of female figures, such as the ...

Article

Isabel L. Taube

Late 19th-century movement in the arts and literature characterized by the pursuit and veneration of beauty and the fostering of close relationships among the fine and applied arts. According to its major proponents, beauty was found in imaginative creations that harmonized colours, forms, and patterns derived from Western and non-Western cultures as well as motifs from nature. The Aesthetic Movement gained momentum in England in the 1850s, achieved widespread popularity in England and the USA by the 1870s, and declined by the 1890s.

The principal ideologies and practices of British Aestheticism came to the USA through both educational and commercial channels. As early as 1873, the Scottish stained-glass designer, decorator, and art dealer Daniel Cottier opened a branch of his interior design shop in New York and played a significant role in introducing aesthetic taste and artefacts to Americans. The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, with its extensive display of industrial and decorative arts, showcased British Aestheticism and the Japanese ceramics that influenced it. British art magazines and books, especially Charles Locke Eastlake’s ...

Article

Leah Lipton

(b Killingly, CT, Feb 3, 1800; d Florence, March 27, 1880).

American painter and lithographer. He studied briefly with Alexander Robertson (1768–1841) in New York and copied portraits by John Trumbull and Samuel Waldo. From 1821 to 1825 he painted portraits in Killingly, CT, and Providence, RI. He received encouraging advice from Gilbert Stuart in Boston, probably in 1825, and by 1828 was a prominent portrait painter and lithographer there. Portraits such as Mrs Jared Sparks (1830; Cambridge, MA, Harvard U.) demonstrate a well-developed sense of pattern and design but display some deficiency in draughtsmanship, with conventional shapes used to determine the sitter’s features.

From 1831 to 1833 Alexander travelled and painted in Italy. After returning to Boston, he exhibited 39 paintings in 1834 at Harding’s Gallery, many of which were derived from the Italian trip. His unusually theatrical portrait of Senator Daniel Webster (1835; Hanover, NH, Dartmouth Coll., Hood Mus. A.) shows the effect of his exposure to Romanticism; Webster is presented with fiery eyes and wild hair, silhouetted against a dramatic sky. When Dickens visited America in ...

Article

Paul J. Karlstrom

(b San Francisco, CA, c. 1860; d New York, NY, May 16, 1894).

American painter. San Francisco’s first native-born artist, he was among the most intriguing of late 19th-century American painters. Little is known about his short life and career, for which there are only four or five reliable dates. He was the second child of an eastern European Jewish immigrant family that settled in San Francisco sometime before 1860. He received his early art training at the California School of Design, where he studied with Toby Rosenthal (1848–1917), probably in 1872–3. A year or two later he left for Europe for prolonged study in Munich. The first definite date of his career is his arrival in New York in 1883 and subsequent return to San Francisco, where he maintained studios in the financial district for about four years. On 15 April 1887, he sailed by way of Panama for New York City, where, seven years later—ill, poverty-stricken and deeply despondent—he took his life by drinking a carbolic acid ‘cocktail’. Most of what is known about Alexander, other than the evidence of some 30 surviving paintings, appears in the newspaper obituaries reporting his suicide at the age of about 35....

Article

Eleanor Jones Harvey

(b Allegheny, PA, Oct 7, 1856; d New York, May 31, 1915).

American painter and illustrator. He began his career in New York in 1875 as a political cartoonist and illustrator for Harper’s Weekly. In 1877 he went to Paris for his first formal art training, and then to Munich, where he enrolled at the Kunstakademie under Gyuala Benczúr. In 1878 he joined a colony of American painters established by Frank Duveneck in Polling, Bavaria. In 1879 they travelled to Italy, where Alexander formed friendships with James McNeill Whistler and Henry James. In 1881 he returned to New York, working as an illustrator for Harper’s, as a drawing instructor at Princeton and as a highly successful society portrait painter (see fig.). He also exhibited at the National Academy of Design. By 1893 his reputation in both Europe and America had soared, and in 1895 he was awarded a prestigious commission for a series of murals entitled the Evolution of the Book...

Article

David Steinberg

(b Waccamaw, SC, Nov 5, 1779; d Cambridgeport, MA, July 9, 1843).

American painter. The son of a prominent South Carolina plantation owner of English descent, he began to draw around the age of six, and he moved to his uncle’s home in Newport, RI, at the age of eight. While there he came into contact with the portrait painter Samuel King, but it was the exhibited portraits of Robert Edge Pine that offered him inspiring models of glazing and colouring. Dubbed ‘the Count’ by his Harvard College classmates for his way with fashion, Allston explored alternatives to the portrait tradition with landscapes, as well as with depictions of irrational figures, for example Man in Chains (1800; Andover, MA, Phillips Acad., Addison Gal.). After graduating in 1800, he sold his patrimony to fund study abroad.

In 1801 Allston went with Edward Greene Malbone to London, where he frequented the circle of Benjamin West and studied drawing at the Royal Academy. In late ...

Article

Isabel L. Taube

Term applied variously to describe a specific style, movement, and artistic affiliation embraced by American artists from about 1885 to 1920. Impressionism began in France in the early 1870s and later spread throughout Europe and the USA. While artists continue to paint in an Impressionist style today, art historians generally use the term American Impressionism to refer to an historical tendency that gained prominence and flourished during the last decades of the 19th century and first decades of the 20th. Impressionism began as a radical reaction to more conservative approaches to painting, and only in the early 20th century did it become a mainstream style in comparison with other developments in modern art. American Impressionism included a diversity of approaches, usually attributed to geographic and regional differences.

Impressionism as an art movement and style began when a group of painters, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Renoir, became frustrated with the traditional criteria favoured by the official French government-sponsored exhibitions and joined together to organize an independent show of their work in Paris in ...

Article

M. Sue Kendall

Term used to describe scenes of typical American life painted in a naturalistic vein from c. 1920 until the early 1940s. It applies to both Regionalism and Social Realism in American painting, but its specific boundaries remain ambiguous. The phrase probably derived from Henry James’s collection of essays and impressions, The American Scene (London, 1907), published upon James’s own rediscovery of his native land after 21 years as an expatriate. The term entered the vocabulary of fine arts by the 1920s and was applied to the paintings of Charles Burchfield during 1924.

In the two decades following World War I, American writers and artists began to look for native sources for the aesthetic and spiritual renewal of their modern technological civilization. This search engaged and activated many thoughtful and creative people in the 1920s and 1930s and resulted in that flurry of activity that Waldo Frank (1889–1967) discussed as ...

Article

Leah Lipton

(b Framingham, MA, May 5, 1768; d Albany, NY, Feb 23, 1836).

American painter and craftsman. After working briefly in Worcester, MA (1790–93), painting miniatures, chimney-pieces, signs and sleighs, he settled permanently in Albany, NY. There he practised various crafts, including framemaking and painting ornamental clockfaces. Active in the Masonic Temple, he held a high position in the New York chapter from 1802 to 1826. For the Masons he made signs, aprons, urns and carpet designs. Entries in his account books indicate that by 1813 he was primarily painting portraits, improving his technique by copying works by John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart. His first major success was the sale of a portrait of George Clinton, Governor of New York and vice-president of the USA, to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1812; destr. 1845). Laudatory reviews generated requests for replicas, including an ambitious but somewhat awkward full-length version (c. 1813; Albany, NY, State Capitol). Ames also painted the official portrait of George Clinton’s nephew, ...

Article

Sally Mills

(Pollock)

(b Newport, KY, Oct 5, 1851; d Fort Washington, PA, June 16, 1912).

American painter and teacher. In 1872 he moved to New York, where he enrolled at the National Academy of Design. By 1875 he had advanced to the life class but found the Academy ‘a rotten old institution’. Moving to Philadelphia, Anshutz entered a life class taught by Thomas Eakins at the Philadelphia Sketch Club and transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when it opened its new building in 1876. Continuing to study under Eakins and Christian Schussele (1824/6–79), Anshutz soon became Eakins’s assistant demonstrator for anatomy courses taught by the surgeon William Williams Keen.

Anshutz’s style quickly progressed from a tight linearity toward an emphasis on solid form, expressed through simplified modelling and a thorough knowledge of anatomy. For his first mature works he sought subjects in the active lives around him, whether in the lush pastoral setting of The Father and his Son Harvesting...

Article

Amy Meyers

(Laforest) [Fougère, Jean-Jacques]

(b Les Cayes, Santo Domingo [now Haiti], April 26, 1785; d New York state, Jan 27, 1851).

American Naturalist, painter and draughtsman of French –Creole descent. Brought up in a French village near Nantes, he developed an interest in art and natural science, encouraged by his father and the naturalist Alcide Dessaline d’Orbigny. He is thought to have moved to Paris by 1802 to pursue formal art training; although the evidence is inconclusive, Audubon claimed to have studied in the studio of Jacques-Louis David.

In 1803 Audubon travelled to the USA to oversee Mill Grove, an estate owned by his father on the outskirts of Philadelphia, PA. Uninterested in practical affairs, he spent his time hunting and drawing birds. His drawings (many in Cambridge, MA, Harvard U., Houghton Lib.) from this period are executed primarily in pencil and pastel. They are conventional specimen drawings that define individual birds in stiff profile with little or no background. A number of these works, however, bear notations from Mark Catesby’s ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(Francisca )

(b East Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1946).

American muralist, activist and teacher. Born to Mexican–American parents, Baca is recognized as one of the leading muralists in the USA. She was involved from a young age in activism, including the Chicano Movement, the antiwar protest and Women’s Liberation. She studied art at California State University, Northridge, where she received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Baca started teaching art in 1970 in East Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and became interested in the ways murals could involve youth, allowing them to express their experiences. She founded the City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into the Social and Public Resource Center, a community arts organization, where she served as artistic director. She held five summer mural workshops from 1976 through 1983 for teenagers and community artists to help her paint a huge mural on the ethnic history of Los Angeles, called the ...

Article

Pamela H. Simpson

(b Charlestown, MA, June 3, 1819; d Montclair, NJ, Dec 11, 1911).

American sculptor and painter, active also in Italy . Active in the mid-19th century, and for much of his career an expatriate in Italy, Ball is noted for his bronze portrait statues. Largely self-taught, he began as a painter in New England before turning to sculpture. In 1854 he settled in Italy and became an important part of the American expatriate community. He returned to Boston in 1857, but went back to Italy in 1865, where his house and studio became important stops for American artists and visitors. His pupils included Daniel Chester French and Martin Milmore (1844–83). Ball’s naturalistic style was little influenced by the Neo-classicism of contemporaries such as Hiram Powers. A pioneer in the popularization of mass-produced statuettes, he is best known for his public monuments, especially the equestrian statue of George Washington in the Boston Public Gardens and the Emancipation Group in Washington, DC.

Ball’s father was a sign painter, and both his parents were interested in music, a gift he shared. He supplemented his income early in his career by singing professionally. After his father’s death, he left school and worked at various jobs including cutting silhouettes and painting miniature portraits. His first sculpture success was with a cabinet-sized portrait of the Swedish soprano ...

Article

(b St Andrews, NB, 1833; d Providence, RI, Jan 9, 1901).

American painter . Bannister grew up in St Andrews, a small seaport in New Brunswick, Canada. His interest in art was encouraged by his mother, and he made his earliest studies, in drawing and watercolour, at the age of ten. After working as a cook on vessels on the Eastern seaboard, he moved in 1848 with his brother to Boston, where he set up as a barber serving the black community. During the 1850s and 1860s he learned the technique of solar photography, a process of enlarging photographic images that were developed outdoors in daylight, which he continued to practise while working in Boston and New York. Documented paintings from this time include religious scenes, seascapes and genre subjects, for example the noted Newspaper Boy (1869; Washington, DC, N. Mus. Amer. A.), a rare study of urban black experience.

In 1870 Bannister and his wife moved to Providence, RI, where his work flourished and his paintings were collected by such patrons as ...

Article

Margaret Rose Vendryes

(b Bay St Louis, MS, Jan 28, 1909; d Pasadena, CA, March 6, 1989).

African American sculptor and painter. Barthé was raised a devout Roman Catholic Creole. He was also the only African American artist of his generation to consistently portray the black male nude. Although closeted throughout his life, sensual figures such as Stevedore (1937; Hampton, VA, U. Mus.) expose his homosexuality. Barthé’s elementary education ended in 1914. As an adolescent, he skillfully copied magazine illustrations, especially figures. Barthé worked for the wealthy New Orleans Pond family, who summered on the Bay, and in 1917, he moved to New Orleans to become their live-in servant. Barthé had access to the Pond library and art collection, and while in their employment, he began to paint in oil. In 1924, his head of Jesus prompted the Rev. Harry F. Kane to fund the first of four years at the Art Institute of Chicago School, where Barthé studied painting with Charles Schroeder and sculpture with Albin Polasek (...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Richmond, VA, June 25, 1931; d Oneonta, NY, Aug 29, 2013).

American painter. Beal studied at the College of William and Mary, Norfolk, VA, before going on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. In 1965, he began having solo exhibitions at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, later Frumkin/Adams Gallery and then George Adams Gallery, which had venues in New York City and Chicago, continuing to exhibit with them into the 21st century. Like many artists working in the 1960s, he repudiated the abstract, then so current in the art world, and favored instead the kind of “New Realism” being espoused by artists such as Philip Pearlstein, among others. His art focuses on the figure indoors, usually rendered up-close in a compact interior environment. The colors are usually vivid and the lines often dominant.

Beal is known primarily as a painter, but in addition to painting and prints, Beal produced two major public art monuments. The first was a series of four murals titled ...

Article

Tara Leigh Tappert

(b Philadelphia, PA, May 1, 1855; d Gloucester, MA, Sept 17, 1942).

American painter. Beaux’s paintings of upper-class men, women, and children represent the finest examples of portraiture from the turn of the 20th century (see fig.). Known for her bravura brushwork, lush colour, and consummate ability to combine likeness and genre, Beaux’s paintings garnered awards and accolades at the exhibitions where she regularly showed her work. By the 1890s her portraits were often compared with those of John Singer Sargent, and she was as well known as Mary Cassatt.

Beaux was 16 years old when an uncle arranged private art lessons with a distant relative and artist, Catharine Ann Drinker (1871–2). Beaux did copy-work with her and then took two more years of training at the art school of Francis Adolf van der Wielen (1872–4). Beaux later studied china painting at the National Art Training School with Camille Piton (1879). Her earliest Philadelphia training prepared her for a career in the decorative arts. A few of Beaux’s early commissions include her lithograph, ...

Article

Janet Bishop

(b San Francisco, CA, May 14, 1932).

American painter. Native of the San Francisco Bay Area, known for careful observation and explicit use of snapshot-like photographic source material for paintings of family, cars, and residential neighborhoods. The artist rose to national and international prominence in early 1970s as part of the Photorealist movement (see Photorealism).

From the 1960s, Bechtle pursued a quiet realism based on the things he knew best, translating what seem to be ordinary scenes of middle-class American life into paintings. Following an early childhood in the Bay Area and Sacramento, his family settled in 1942 in Alameda, an island suburb adjacent to Oakland where his mother would occupy the same house for almost 60 years. The neighborhood appears in many of Bechtle’s paintings.

Bechtle earned both his BFA (1954) and his MFA (1958) at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied graphic design and then painting. During his student years and into the 1960s, Bechtle was influenced by Pop art’s precedent for the use of commercial subject matter and techniques. He was likewise interested in Bay Area figuration, especially the subjects and structure of paintings by ...

Article

Bailey Van Hook

(b Salem, MA, March 24, 1862; d Salem, Nov 15, 1951).

American painter, etcher and teacher. Benson attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1880 to 1883 as a student of Otto Grundmann (1844–90) and Frederick Crowninshield (1845–1918). In 1883 he travelled with his fellow student and lifelong friend Edmund C(harles) Tarbell to Paris, where they both studied at the Académie Julian for three years with Gustave(-Clarence-Rodolphe) Boulanger and Jules(-Joseph) Lefebvre. Benson travelled with Tarbell to Italy in 1884 and to Italy, Belgium, Germany and Brittany the following year. When he returned home, Benson became an instructor at the Portland (ME) School of Art, and after his marriage to Ellen Perry Peirson in 1888 he settled in Salem, MA. Benson taught with Tarbell at the Museum School in Boston from 1889 until their resignation over policy differences in 1913. Benson rejoined the staff the next year and taught intermittently as a visiting instructor until ...