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Abbey, Edwin Austin (01 April 1852–01 August 1911), artist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Maxwell Abbey, a commercial broker, and Margery Ann Kiple. Abbey’s sole formal artistic training took place in 1868 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he took night classes under ...

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Ashley, Clifford Warren (18 December 1881–18 September 1947), artist and author, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of A. (which stood for Abiel) Davis Ashley, a grocer, and Caroline Morse. As a youth, growing up in New Bedford, Ashley witnessed the long decline of the once prosperous whale fishery that had brought fame and great fortune to New Bedford before the Civil War. The waterfront, with its wharves, derelict hulks, support facilities, and few remaining active vessels became his favorite playground and made a lasting impression on him. While a student at New Bedford High School, Ashley took an interest in art, which he subsequently pursued in Boston at the Eric Pape School. During the summer of 1901 he and his friends ...

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Blashfield, Edwin Howland (15 December 1848–12 October 1936), artist, writer, and lecturer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Henry Blashfield, who was in the wholesale dry goods business, and Eliza Dodd, an amateur watercolorist. After some schooling in Hartford, Connecticut, he attended the Boston Latin School, and in 1863 he went to Hanover, Germany, where he intended to study engineering. However, three months later he was forced to return to the United States, where he enrolled in the Boston Institute of Technology (later Massachusetts Institute of Technology)....

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Blum, Robert Frederick (09 July 1857–08 June 1903), artist, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Frederick Blum, an employee of the German Mutual Insurance Company, and Mary Haller. In the mid-1870s Blum and several colleagues, including Kenyon Cox and Alfred Brennan, broke away from the program of study established by the McMicken School of Design and instead received instruction from ...

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Blumenschein, Ernest L. (26 May 1874–06 June 1960), painter and illustrator, was born Ernest Leonard Blumenschein in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of William L. Blumenschein, a highly cultured German-born musician, and Leonora Chapin. After his mother died in childbirth in 1878, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where his father accepted the directorship of the Philharmonic Chorus and also served as organist for the Third Presbyterian Church. At seventeen Blumenschein received a scholarship to study violin at the Cincinnati College of Music. During the same year he took a course in illustration at the Cincinnati Art Academy, and the following year he transferred to the Art Students League in New York City. He never completely abandoned the violin for art, and during his student years he earned additional income as a violinist for the New York National Conservatory Orchestra, then under the directorship of ...

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Bodmer, Karl (11 February 1809–30 October 1893), artist, was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the son of Heinrich Bodmer, a cotton merchant, and his second wife Elisabeth Meier. After a brief elementary education, Bodmer was apprenticed to his uncle Johann Jakob Meier, from whom he learned sketching, engraving, and watercolor, the medium of his finest works....

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Borthwick, John David (1824–21 December 1892), artist and writer, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of George Augustus Borthwick, a physician, and Janet Kinnear. He attended Edinburgh Academy and also took private art lessons. At age eighteen he received an inheritance, which he chose to use for travel. He first toured Europe and then in 1847 sailed to the New World. He journeyed to eastern Canada, then to New York City where he heard of the gold rush and was, in his words, “seized with the California fever.”...

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Bridges, Fidelia (19 May 1834–14 May 1923), watercolorist and illustrator, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of Henry Gardner Bridges, a ship captain, and Eliza Chadwick. The family was comfortably established, but when Captain Bridges died in China in December 1849 and Mrs. Bridges died just three months later, the family house and furniture had to be sold to pay estate debts. Since Fidelia was not yet sixteen and her brother was a year younger, the older sisters, Eliza and Elizabeth, tried to support the family by starting a school. Fidelia probably helped, as she had been given drawing lessons and was qualified as a teacher of drawing. The school was not a success, and in 1854 the sisters, at the suggestion of Eliza’s friend, poet and later sculptor ...

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Cary, William de la Montagne (30 June 1840–07 January 1922), documentary artist, was born in Tappan, New York, the son of William Cary, an architect, and Susan de la Montagne. The family moved to New York City when Cary was a small child. His formal education is unknown; he may have been coached in painting by his father. At fourteen he was apprenticed to an engraver and later assisted in carving the stone birds used on staircases on the mall in Central Park....

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Chapman, John Gadsby (11 August 1808–28 November 1889), artist, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of Charles T. Chapman, a businessman, and Sarah Margaret Gadsby. He was named for his maternal grandfather John Gadsby, a well-known tavern keeper. Chapman grew up in Alexandria and attended the academy there. Early on he displayed an interest in art, which was encouraged by the artists ...

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Chappel, Alonzo (01 March 1828–04 December 1887), artist, was born in New York City, the son of William Pelton Chappel, a tinsmith and amateur painter, and Maria Louise Howes. The family was of Huguenot descent, and the name is pronounced CHAP-pel, with the accent on the first syllable. He demonstrated artistic ability early; he is said to have contributed a painting titled ...

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Howard Chandler Christy Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-2253).

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Christy, Howard Chandler (10 January 1873–03 March 1952), artist, was born in Morgan County, Ohio, the son of Francis Marion Christy and Mary Chandler, farmers. Christy revealed a precocious ability to draw. At age ten he earned $10 by painting a black and white bull against a blue sky for a local butcher’s shop sign. At thirteen he sketched the log schoolhouse in Orange, Ohio, where ...

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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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Douglas, Aaron (26 May 1899–02 February 1979), artist and educator, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Aaron Douglas, Sr., a baker, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), a domestic. Educated in segregated schools until high school, Douglas’s early artistic influences included his mother’s paintings and drawings and fellow African-American artist ...

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Aaron Douglas. Oil on canvas, 1953, by Betsy Graves Reyneau. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation.

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Dove, Arthur Garfield (02 August 1880–23 November 1946), illustrator and modernist painter, was born in Canandaigua, New York, the son of William George Dove, an affluent brickmaker, building contractor, and civic activist, and Anna Elizabeth Chipps. In 1882 the family moved to Geneva, New York, where they eventually occupied a mansion in an upper-class neighborhood. Dove received many educational opportunities, including painting lessons. After Dove graduated from high school in 1899, he attended Hobart College, located in Geneva, and then Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he took art classes. Dove graduated from Cornell in 1903 and found work as an illustrator in New York City with magazines such as ...

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Dunn, Harvey Thomas (07 March 1884–29 October 1952), artist, was born in Dakota Territory (near present-day Manchester, South Dakota), the son of William Thomas Dunn and Bersha Dow, farmers. He grew up on the family farm, where he displayed an early aptitude for drawing. He later recalled that he and his mother often sketched together in the evening after the chores were done. In 1901 he enrolled as a preparatory student at South Dakota Agricultural College (later South Dakota State University) in Brookings, where he took an art class taught by Ada Caldwell. “She opened new vistas for me,” recalled Dunn (Karolevitz, p. 21); she also encouraged him to apply to her alma mater, the Art Institute of Chicago. He attended the institute from 1902 to 1904, working as a custodian to help pay his tuition. In 1904 Dunn met ...

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James Montgomery Flagg Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0845).

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Flagg, James Montgomery (18 June 1877–27 May 1960), artist and author, was born in Pelham Manor, New York, the son of Elisha Flagg, a businessman, and Anna Elida Coburn, a socialite. Flagg attended public schools in Brooklyn and New York City, then a private institution called Dr. Chapin’s School (1889–1891), and finally the Horace Mann School in New York (1891–1893). When he was twelve, he sold a drawing to the children’s magazine ...