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Anderson, Alexander (21 April 1775–17 January 1870), engraver, was born in New York city, the son of John Anderson, a printer and publisher, and Sarah Lockwood. By 1790 the Andersons were living on Wall Street; they were Episcopalians, of moderate means, with varied interests and social contacts. The family was close-knit and affectionate....

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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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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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Eichenberg, Fritz (24 October 1901–30 November 1990), illustrator and woodcut artist, was born in Cologne, Germany, the son of Siegfried Eichenberg, a merchant, and Ida Marcus, a merchant after her husband's death in 1915. At about the age of sixteen, after eleven years of traditional Gymnasium schooling that he described as “brutal in demanding unconditional obedience” ( ...

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Gifford, Robert Swain (23 December 1840–15 January 1905), artist, was born on Nonamesset Island near Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, the son of William Tillinghast Gifford, a boatman, and Annie Eldridge. He was named for Robert Swain, the late invalid son of William W. Swain, a prosperous New Bedford merchant who employed Gifford’s father. When he was two, Gifford’s family moved to Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where he spent his youth attending the local school and working around the wharves. As the son of an impecunious waterman, Gifford would have had an education limited to the grammar school of Fairhaven had it not been for the kindly encouragement of Mrs. Swain, who saw to it that he studied French, literature, and music and acquired the manners and bearing of a gentleman....

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Childe Hassam. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G39-T-8043-014).

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Hassam, Childe (17 October 1859–27 August 1935), painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born Frederick Childe Hassam in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Frederick Fitch Hassam, an antiques dealer and cutlery merchant, and Rose Delia Hawthorne. The family name was a derivation of the original Puritan name Horsham....

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Kappel, Philip (10 February 1901–17 March 1981), artist, author, and illustrator, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Morris Kappel, who had come from Russia on business, and Anna Superior. While a student at Hartford High School, Kappel’s artistic ability was sufficiently developed to secure his employment as a staff artist for the ...

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Rockwell Kent Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1933. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42519).

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Kent, Rockwell (21 June 1882–13 March 1971), artist, was born in Tarrytown Heights, New York, the son of Rockwell Kent, an attorney and mining engineer, and Sara Ann Holgate. Kent spent his infancy and early childhood in privileged circumstances, at family homes in Tarrytown, New York City, and on Long Island. When he was five his father died, and henceforth family resources were limited. Kent was not told of his father’s death and had to infer the news himself; when his suspicions were confirmed he reacted angrily and began misbehaving. To improve his behavior, his mother sent him to a military boarding school when he was ten, with the help of scholarships and financial assistance from an aunt who noticed his nascent artistic talent....

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Lawson, Alexander (19 December 1773–22 August 1846), line engraver, was born on a farm at Ravenstruthers, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Little is known of his childhood, not even the names of his parents. He was introduced to drawing by a schoolmaster and apparently sketched in his early workbooks while in school. After his parents died, at age sixteen he moved to Manchester, England, where he was befriended by a bookseller who indulged Lawson’s love of illustrated books and art books. He lived near a store where he would have seen printed images for sale. He determined to become an engraver. Like many of his contemporaries in the graphic arts, he was self-taught in his chosen field. His earliest tool was a penknife; later he had a blacksmith make an engraving tool by copying an illustration in an art manual. He experimented with various engraving tools and media—etching, mezzotint, and line engraving. Although he would have preferred to travel to France to perfect his engraving skills, the French Revolution prevented him from doing so....

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Longacre, James Barton (11 August 1794–01 January 1869), artist and engraver, was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter Longacre. He began drawing while still a boy, and his talent was noticed by the Philadelphia bookseller and antiquarian John Fanning Watson, whom he served as an apprentice. Watson subsequently apprenticed him to the Philadelphia engraver George Murray. Longacre established his own engraving business in 1819. His first important commission came the following year when he engraved the portraits of ...

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Marsh, Reginald (14 March 1898–30 July 1954), artist and teacher, was born in Paris, France, the son of Fred Dana Marsh, a painter-muralist of modern industry and New York City skyscrapers, and Alice Randall, a painter of miniatures. In 1900 the family moved to exclusive Nutley, New Jersey. Marsh grew up in a home filled with his parents’ art; reproductions of Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, and Tintoretto; art books; brushes; canvases; and living models. He received no art instruction from his parents, however....

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Thomas Moran. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-115323).

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Moran, Thomas (12 January 1837–25 August 1926), artist, was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, the son of Thomas Moran, a weaver, and Mary Higson. In 1844 Moran left England with his mother and siblings to join his father, who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia. After an elementary education, he was indentured in 1853 to a wood engraving firm, a position he left in 1856. Moran then worked closely with his elder brother ...

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Joseph Pennell Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-2978-C).

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Pennell, Joseph (04 July 1857–23 April 1926), etcher, lithographer, and illustrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Larkin Pennell, a shipping clerk, and Rebecca A. Barton. The family came from a long line of Quaker farmers. He left the family farm for a shipping office in Philadelphia, where he spent his early years. Influenced by the work of American artists exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art during the centennial year in 1876, he made an early decision to become an illustrator, much to the disquiet of his parents. Having failed to gain admission to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, he became a clerk at the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company and attended drawing classes in the evening at the newly founded Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art. He was an industrious student, practicing his drawing during quiet moments at the office. He also studied etching and lithography at the school, under the supervision of the architect Charles Marquedant Burns. Burns’s enlightened teaching methods led Pennell to regard him as an early mentor....

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Reason, Patrick Henry (1816–12 August 1898), printmaker, abolitionist, and fraternal order leader, was born in New York City, the son of Michel Reason (from St. Anne, Guadeloupe) and Elizabeth Melville (from Saint-Dominique). Reason was baptized as Patrick Rison in the Church of St. Peter on 17 April 1816. While it is not known why the spelling of his name changed, it may have been an homage to political leader ...

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Ruzicka, Rudolph (29 June 1883–20 July 1978), artist, typographer, and author, was born in Kourim in central Bohemia, the son of Václav Ruzicka, a tailor, and Josefa Reichman. Accompanying his parents to the United States in 1894, he settled in Chicago, where he completed seven grades of public school in three years while at the same time learning to speak English. He then left in 1897 to begin an apprenticeship at the Franklin Engraving Company, where he learned to engrave on wood and to work a Washington hand press. In subsequent employment in other firms, Ruzicka learned the electrotype and photogravure processes while studying art at Hull-House and the Art Institute of Chicago....

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Sartain, John (24 October 1808–25 October 1897), entrepreneurial engraver and publisher, was born in London, England, the son of John Sartain, a shoemaker, and Ann Burgess. Before Sartain was eight years old, his father died, and by age twelve he was working as an assistant to a theatrical pyrotechnist and scene painter. At fourteen he received an inheritance from his grandmother and apprenticed himself to the engraver John Swaine. Fortunate in being asked to complete the engravings for William Ottley’s ...