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Bingham, George Caleb (20 March 1811–07 July 1879), artist and politician, was born on a plantation near South River, in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of Henry Vest Bingham and Mary Amend, farmers. In 1819 the family moved to Franklin, Missouri, where Bingham’s father opened a tavern and bought a farm near Arrow Rock, Missouri. In 1821 he became a county judge but died in 1823. A year later Bingham’s mother established a girls’ school in Franklin and two years after that moved with the family to a farm in Arrow Rock. In 1827 Bingham was apprenticed to a carpenter and Methodist minister in Boonville, Missouri, but when he saw a portrait painter at work, he decided to become one himself. He also studied religion, preached, and read law until 1830, after which he became an itinerant portrait painter. In Columbia, Missouri, he painted his four earliest surviving portraits (1834), including one of ...

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Robert Gwathmey. Left, with his wife. Courtesy of Michael Kammen.

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Gwathmey, Robert (03 January 1903–21 September 1988), artist and activist, was born near Richmond, Virginia, an eighth-generation native of Welsh descent, to Robert Gwathmey, a railroad engineer, and Eva Harrison Gwathmey. Following brief stints at North Carolina State College (1922–1923) and Maryland Institute of Design (1925–1926) and at sea on a commercial freighter, he attended the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA, 1926–1930), where he was awarded several prize fellowships and met his future wife, also an aspiring artist, Rosalie Hook of Charlotte, North Carolina. They married in 1935 and had one son, Charles Gwathmey, who became one of the most prominent architects of his generation. When Charles was born, Rosalie Gwathmey took up photography, acquired professional skills, and later earned public recognition for her work. Beginning in the 1940s Robert Gwathmey often asked Rosalie to photograph rural scenes in their native South and used those images as the basis for some of his most striking paintings. Despite that collaboration Gwathmey was typical of his generation in regarding photography as an inferior art form....

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Roerich, Nicholas (09 October 1874–13 December 1947), artist, author, humanitarian, was born Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of Konstantin Roerich, a lawyer and notary, and Maria Kalashnikova Roerich. He was raised in the comfortable environment of an upper-middle-class Russian family and enjoyed contact with the writers, artists, and scientists who often came to visit. At an early age he showed a curiosity and talent for archeology, paleontology, botany, and geology. The young Roerich also showed a particular aptitude for drawing, and at the age of sixteen he began to think about pursuing a career as an artist. In 1893, to satisfy his father, who did not consider painting to be a fit vocation for a responsible member of society, Nicholas enrolled in both the Academy of Art and St. Petersburg University, where he studied law....

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Stillman, William James (01 June 1828–06 July 1901), journalist, artist, and diplomat, was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Joseph Stillman, a machinist, and Eliza Ward Maxson. Enduring a strict, impoverished childhood, he retained an intense love of nature and an abiding religious faith. Potentially a brilliant student, and with some financial help from some of his older brothers, he graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1848 after three years, regretting that he had not studied art....

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White, John (fl. 1585–1593), painter, was the second governor of the Virginia colony (in what is now North Carolina). Nothing is known of White’s origins; however, he was born probably in England, perhaps in Cornwall, sometime between 1540 and 1550. White most likely was educated as a limner, or illustrator, and a John White, possibly the same, is listed in 1580 as a member of the Painter-Stainer’s Company, a London guild. White may have traveled with Martin Frobisher’s 1577 expedition to Baffin Island in search of a northwest passage to Asia as attested by his paintings of Inuits; however, these paintings are copies based on lost originals, probably by White but possibly by someone else....