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Benson, Eugene (01 November 1839–28 February 1908), art critic, painter, and essayist, was born in Hyde Park, New York, the son of Benjamin Benson. His mother’s name is not known. He went to New York City in 1856 to study painting at the National Academy of Design; he also learned portraiture in the studio of J. H. Wright. Taking up residence at the New York University Building, he formed close friendships with several other artists who lived there, most notably ...

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Caffin, Charles Henry (04 June 1854–15 January 1918), art critic and author, was born in Sittingbourne, Kent, England, the son of the Reverend Charles Smart Caffin, a Church of England minister, and Harriet (maiden name unknown). Both parents were talented amateur artists. In 1873 Caffin received a scholarship to attend Pembroke College at Oxford University, where he received his B.A. in 1877. Following graduation, he worked as a teacher for several years before joining an itinerant theater troupe, Ben Greet and His Shakespearean Players, as an actor and stage manager. In 1888 he married fellow player Caroline Scurfield; they had two daughters. Caffin and his family immigrated to the United States in 1892. He first worked in the decorations department of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which led to his next job making cartoons for mural paintings in the new Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. His first essay on art and architecture was published in Herbert Small’s ...

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Carlos Chávez Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103962).

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Chávez, Carlos (13 June 1899–02 August 1978), influential Mexican composer/conductor, author, and educator, of Spanish and some Indian descent, was born Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez in Mexico City, the seventh son of Augustin Chávez, an inventor, and Juvencia Ramírez, a teacher. His mother supported the children after her husband’s death in 1902. Chávez began his musical studies at an early age and studied piano, first with his elder brother Manuel, then with Asunción Parra, and later with composer and pianist Manuel M. Ponce (1910–1914) and pianist and teacher Pedro Luis Ogazón (1915–1920). Chávez credited Ogazón with introducing him to the best classical and Romantic music and with developing his musical taste and technical formation. He received little formal training in composition, concentrating instead on the piano, analysis of musical scores, and orchestration. Chávez’s maternal grandfather was Indian, and from the time Chávez was five or six his family frequently vacationed in the ancient city-state of Tlaxcala, the home of a tribe that opposed the Aztecs. He later visited such diverse Indian centers as Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Michoacan in pursuit of Indian culture, which proved a significant influence on his early works....

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Coates, Robert Myron (06 April 1897–08 February 1973), writer, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Frederick Coates, an inventor of special tools and machinery, and Harriet Davidson. Coates’s father was a restless man, and the family rarely remained in one place for long. Their stay in any given town depended, Coates explained in his memoirs, ...

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Cook, Clarence (08 September 1828–02 June 1900), art critic and author, was born Clarence Chatham Cook in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Zebedee Cook and Caroline Tuttle. His father was one of the first involved in the insurance business, helped found the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. His mother died when he was three. By the time he was ten, Cook and his family had moved to New York City. He studied at the Irving Institute in Tarrytown, New York, and considered himself an iconoclast as a child. He graduated in 1849 from Harvard University, where he had specialized in zoology during his final year. While there he studied under ...

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Cortissoz, Royal (10 February 1869–17 October 1948), art critic, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Francisco Emanuel Cortissoz, an English native of Spanish descent, and Julia da Costa Mauri, a native of Martinique. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, but otherwise he was self-educated, and he began to write in his early teens, submitting his first articles to the ...

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Cox, Kenyon (27 October 1856–17 March 1919), artist and critic, was born in Warren, Ohio, the son of Jacob Dolson Cox, later a Union general in the Civil War, governor of Ohio, secretary of the interior for President Ulysses S. Grant, attorney, and legal educator, and Helen Finney, daughter of the famous evangelist ...

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de Kooning, Elaine (12 March 1918–01 February 1989), artist and critic, was born Elaine Marie Catherine Fried in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Charles Frank Fried, an accountant, and Mary Ellen O’Brien. She grew up in Brooklyn, and, encouraged by her mother, began to show a strong interest in art by the age of five. She attended Erasmus Hall High School, where she began her formal training in art. After a brief enrollment at Hunter College, Elaine Fried began to study at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in Manhattan in 1937. A year later she switched to the American Artists School and, influenced by the political environment of the school, began to work in a social realist vein. Her artistic direction changed quickly, however, after she began private study with the Dutch-born painter ...

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Gallatin, Albert Eugene (23 July 1881–15 June 1952), art museum founder, critic, and painter, was born in Villanova, Pennsylvania, the son of Albert Horatio Gallatin, a professor of analytical chemistry at New York University, and Louisa Belford Ewing. He was the proud namesake of his great-grandfather, ...

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Catherine McNickle Chastain and John O’Brian

Greenberg, Clement (16 January 1909–07 May 1994), art critic, was born in the Bronx, New York, to Russian parents who made a living as storekeepers. He attended the Art Students League in New York City from March to May 1925, then enrolled at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York, from 1926 to 1930. Greenberg studied literature and languages at Syracuse, where he earned a B.A. He married Edwina Ewing in 1934 in San Francisco; they had a son and were divorced in 1936. Greenberg’s subsequent significant relationships included one with painter Helen Frankenthaler, whom he met in 1950 but never married, and with Janice Elaine Van Horne, whom he married in 1956. He had a daughter with Van Horne....

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Hambidge, Jay (13 January 1867–20 January 1924), artist and theorist, was born Edward John Hambidge in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, the son of George Fowler Hambidge, occupation unknown, and Christina Shields. At the age of fifteen he ran away to the United States. He took a job as a surveyor’s assistant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and lived there for several years. He left for Kansas City in 1885, taking a job as a printer’s apprentice at the ...

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Sadakichi Hartmann. Oil on canvas, 1940, by Marvin Beerbohm. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. Marvin Beerbohm.

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Hartmann, Sadakichi (08 November 1867?–21 November 1944), art critic, was born Carl Sadakichi Hartmann in Nagasaki, Japan, the son of Carl Herman Oscar Hartmann, a German government official and businessman, and a Japanese woman, Osada. His mother died within several months of his birth, and Sadakichi was sent to live with relatives in Germany. His formal education ended at fourteen when he ran away from military school. Hartmann’s father responded by sending him to the United States to live with a family in Philadelphia, but he struck out on his own within a year. Hartmann schooled himself and cultivated relationships with local art and literary figures, including ...

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Jane Heap. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ6-2112).

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Heap, Jane (01 November 1883–16 June 1964), artist and editor, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of George Heap, an engineer, and Emma (maiden name unknown). Interested in art from an early age, Heap attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1901 until 1905 and later studied mural design in Germany. By the century’s second decade Chicago was in the midst of a “Renaissance” in art and literature. Writers and artists influenced by Nietzsche, Shaw, Picasso, and Gauguin attacked the straitlaced conservatism of the Victorian genteel tradition. Young midwesterners with artistic aspirations traveled to Chicago where they embraced and expressed an American modernism that owed much to European philosophies. Heap was among them....

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McBride, Henry (25 July 1867–31 March 1962), art critic and writer, was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Little is known about his early life except that his parents were Quakers and that McBride’s first job after graduating from high school was writing and illustrating seed catalogs for a local nursery. By 1887 he had saved $200 and moved to New York City to study art. He attended the Artists’ and Artisans’ Institute for four years under iconoclast John Ward Stimson, then continued his studies at the Art Students League, eventually teaching at both organizations....

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Miller, Charles Henry (20 March 1842–21 January 1922), doctor of medicine, artist, and writer, was born in New York City, the son of Jacob H. Miller, an architect, and Jayne M. Taylor. He attended Mount Washington Collegiate Institute to prepare for a career in law or medicine, although early on he had displayed an interest in painting and drawing. In 1860 Miller exhibited his first painting at the National Academy of Design, and the following year he sent two more paintings for exhibition. His father, unhappy with his son’s interest in art, urged him to enroll in the New York Homeopathic Medical Institute. Miller acquiesced to his father’s wishes and completed his medical studies in 1863, receiving his degree from ...

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Pach, Walter (11 July 1883–27 November 1958), artist and art critic, was born in New York City, the son of Gotthelf Pach, a photographer, and Frances Wise. The elder Pach was the official photographer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and by bringing Walter to the museum while he worked, Gotthelf Pach introduced his son to art at an early age. Pach grew up in a comfortable, middle-class home with one brother, Alfred. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from the College of the City of New York in 1903. Thereafter he received artistic training in Manhattan under Leigh Hunt, ...

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Partridge, William Ordway (11 April 1861–22 May 1930), sculptor and art critic, was born in Paris, France, the son of George Sidney Partridge, Jr., a businessman and foreign representative of the A. T. Stewart firm, and Helen Derby Catlin. With the downfall of the Second Empire in 1870, the family returned to the United States. After early schooling at the Cheshire Military Academy in Connecticut and the Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, Partridge entered Columbia College in New York in the fall of 1881. There he studied art and drama, but ill health interrupted those studies, and from the fall of 1882 until the spring of 1884 he traveled abroad. After several months in Germany, he spent brief periods studying art in Milan, Naples, Rome, Florence, and then Paris, where he attended lectures at the École des Beaux-Arts and received basic instruction in sculpture from Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercié....