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Albers, Josef (19 March 1888–25 March 1976), painter, designer, and educator, was born in Bottrop, Germany, the son of Lorenz Albers, a house painter and craftsman, and Magdalena Schumacher. He graduated in 1908 from the teachers’ college in Büren and went on to teach in public schools in Bottrop and neighboring Westphalian towns. In the summer of 1908 he traveled to Munich to view modern art in the galleries and the historical collections of the Pinakothek. Albers’s earliest known drawing, ...

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Anshutz, Thomas Pollock (05 October 1851–16 June 1912), artist and art teacher, was born in Newport, Kentucky, the son of Jacob Anshutz and Jane Abigail Pollock. Very little information survives about his parents or his youth, though he seems to have received an early education in Newport. In 1871 Anshutz moved to Brooklyn, New York, to study art. There he lived with an uncle who had been favorably impressed by the young man’s drawings of boats on the Ohio River. Enrolling in 1873 at the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York City, Anshutz took cast- and life-drawing classes, principally with Lemuel Everett Wilmarth....

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Thomas Pollock Anshutz. Bronze bas relief, 1912-1916, by Adam Pietz. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Bennett, Gwendolyn (08 July 1902–30 May 1981), writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Native American reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Bennett’s father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Her parents divorced and her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with her stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York....

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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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Carles, Arthur B. (09 March 1882–18 June 1952), modernist painter and teacher, was born Arthur Beecher Carles, Jr., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Arthur Beecher Carles, a designer of watch covers and an amateur painter, and Janet Buchanan. His parents supported his artistic aspirations and those of his younger sister Sara, who also became a painter....

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William Merritt Chase. Print of a drawing by W. T. Smedley, 1891. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94501).

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Chase, William Merritt (01 November 1849–25 October 1916), artist and teacher, was born in Nineveh, Indiana, the son of David Hester Chase, a merchant, and Sarah Swaim. At age twelve Chase moved with his family to Indianapolis, where he attended public schools and worked in his father’s shoe store. Chase showed little interest in commerce but demonstrated considerable artistic talent. Around 1866 he began to study with local painters Barton S. Hays and Jacob Cox. Bored with the shoe store and Indianapolis, Chase joined the U.S. Navy as an apprentice in 1867. He quickly realized that he had made a mistake and successfully sought a discharge within a few months. Cox and Hays then convinced David Chase to send his son to New York City to study at the National Academy of Design....

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Still Life by William Merritt Chase. Reproduction of a painting. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-D416-103).

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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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Diller, Burgoyne (13 January 1906–30 January 1965), painter and arts administrator, was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Andrew Diller, a violinist and conductor, and Mary Burgoyne. Diller’s father died in 1908. In 1919 his mother married Adrian Adney, an engineer, and the family moved to Battle Creek, Michigan. Diller attended Battle Creek High School and, subsequently, Michigan State College in East Lansing. A marginal student, Diller was successful only in his art classes and on the track team. Leaving Michigan State before graduating, he moved in 1928 to Buffalo, where he lived with his maternal grandfather....

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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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Du Simitière, Pierre Eugène (18 September 1737–?10 Oct. 1784), artist, collector, and museum proprietor, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, the son of Jean-Henri Ducimetière (also spelled Dusimitière), a broker with the East Indies, and Judith-Ulrique Cunegonde Delorme. Du Simitière was baptized in the Calvinist church. He studied drawing with an unidentified Geneva artist, probably before going to Amsterdam where he joined the Eglise Wallonne in 1754. He may have served in the army in Flanders. In 1757 he sailed from Amsterdam to St. Eustatius, in the Dutch West Indies. He spent more than five years at St. Eustatius and nearby Saba Island, Curaçao, Jamaica, and Saint-Domingue. Intending to write a natural history of the region, he collected samples or made drawings of plants and animals and noted information about the language and customs of the people living there....

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Eakins, Thomas Cowperthwait (25 July 1844–25 June 1916), artist and teacher, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Eakins, a writing master, and Caroline Cowperthwait. As the eldest child and only son, he enjoyed many advantages compared with his three sisters, which may have colored his thinking about male physical and intellectual superiority for the rest of his life. A commitment to excellence in education, to staunchly independent thinking, and to vigorous outdoor exercise was stressed more than organized religion in the modest Eakins household. Because of his father’s profession, which involved inscribing formal documents and teaching penmanship, Eakins developed a remarkable proficiency with pencil or pen and ink on paper. From 1857 to 1861 Eakins attended Philadelphia’s Central High School, which took only the city’s ablest male students through a rigorous curriculum, including the arts and natural sciences as well as history, literature, and languages. A surviving series of mechanical drawings and perspective studies, meticulously rendered and carefully inscribed, demonstrates why Eakins excelled in all his drawing classes. When he graduated on 11 July 1861, the Civil War had just begun. But he never had to serve in the Union army, and hostilities were over before he turned twenty-one....

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Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins. Platinum print, 1877, by Susan Hannah Macdowell Eakins. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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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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Gutmann, Bernhard (24 September 1869–23 January 1936), painter, illustrator, and teacher, was born in Hamburg, Germany, the son of Zadig Gutmann and Elizabeth Biesenthal, merchants. After the death of his mother when he was two years old, Gutmann, the youngest of eight children, was reared by his father, then sent to boarding school. At age twenty Gutmann entered the internationally renowned art academy in Düsseldorf, transferring the following year to the academy in Karlsruhe. Unable to find employment in Germany after leaving school in 1892, he joined his brother Ludwig to work as an electrician at the Piedmont Electrical Illuminating Company in Lynchburg, Virginia. After only three years in Lynchburg, Gutmann began to make his mark on the creative life of the city. In 1895 he became the first supervisor and instructor of drawing in the Lynchburg Public Schools and concurrently taught drawing and painting at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. He also founded the Lynchburg Art League with students from his private art classes. An enthusiastic and creative teacher, he introduced courses on art history and modeling, organized an exhibition of his work for the college, had his students design illustrations for a college handbook, and painted a mural, ...

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Hale, Philip Leslie (21 May 1865–02 February 1931), painter, teacher, and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Everett Hale, a clergyman and author, and Emily Baldwin Perkins. Philip Hale grew up in a close-knit family of extraordinary accomplishment. Like his eldest sister ...