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American Artists

Updated on February 27, 2019
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James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

BENJAMIN WEST AS PAINTED BY GILBERT STUART IN 1784
BENJAMIN WEST AS PAINTED BY GILBERT STUART IN 1784

Benjamin West

Benjamin West (1738-1820) of Pennsylvania was the first painter to immortalize the martyrdom of a secular hero in art (see the neoclassical painting below). A close friend of Benjamin Franklin, he became the first American painter to appear in Europe, where he caused a sensation.

He stopped in London in 1763 and stayed there, becoming one of the founders of the Royal Academy. Benjamin West was self-taught, but later in life became an influential art teacher.

"THE DEATH OF GENERAL WOLFE" BY BENJAMIN WEST (1770) THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA, OTTAWA
"THE DEATH OF GENERAL WOLFE" BY BENJAMIN WEST (1770) THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA, OTTAWA
JOHN TRUMBULL SELF PORTRAIT
JOHN TRUMBULL SELF PORTRAIT

John Trumbull

John Trumbull (1756-1843) of Connecticut was a one-eyed son of the governor who produced many well-known historical paintings.

Four of his paintings hang in the United States Capitol, including the one below, which was also used on the U.S. two-dollar bill.

"DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE" BY JOHN TRUMBULL (1819)
"DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE" BY JOHN TRUMBULL (1819)
THOMAS COLE IN 1845
THOMAS COLE IN 1845

Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole (1801-1848) founded the Hudson River School, an art movement that featured romantic, natural portrayals of American landscapes.

Thomas Cole lived the majority of his adult life in Catskill, New York, where a nearby mountain is named after him. He was also a poet and architect.

"NIAGARA FALLS" BY THOMAS COLE (1845) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"NIAGARA FALLS" BY THOMAS COLE (1845) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
GEORGE INNESS IN 1890
GEORGE INNESS IN 1890

George Inness

George Inness (1825-1894) was from New York and New Jersey. He was a landscape painter who helped define tonalism as the leader of what is known as the American Barbizon School.

George Inness was a deeply religious man, who used light and color to convey his spiritual vision through his art.

"MOONLIGHT IN VIRGINIA" BY GEORGE INNESS (1879) BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART
"MOONLIGHT IN VIRGINIA" BY GEORGE INNESS (1879) BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART
THOMAS EAKINS IN 1882
THOMAS EAKINS IN 1882

Thomas Eakins

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) of Philadelphia may be the most important realist painter in American history. He was also an art teacher, sculptor, and photographer.

Thomas Eakins created a new cosmopolitanism in American Art, as the country itself became more urban and sophisticated.

"THE AGNEW CLINIC" BY THOMAS EAKINS (1889) PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
"THE AGNEW CLINIC" BY THOMAS EAKINS (1889) PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
JOHN SINGER SARGENT SELF PORTRAIT (1906)
JOHN SINGER SARGENT SELF PORTRAIT (1906)

John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was the leading portrait painter of his day, and left behind 3,000 pieces of original artwork. John Singer Sargent traveled the world extensively as a child and as an adult.

One of his paintings recently sold for over twenty million dollars.

"PAUL HELLEU SKETCHING WITH HIS WIFE" BY JOHN SINGER SARGENT (1889) THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM OF ART
"PAUL HELLEU SKETCHING WITH HIS WIFE" BY JOHN SINGER SARGENT (1889) THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM OF ART
GEORGE BELLOWS SELF PORTRAIT (1921)
GEORGE BELLOWS SELF PORTRAIT (1921)

George Bellows

George Bellows (1882-1925) is the leading representative of what is called the Ash Can School of realism. His paintings have a disturbing rawness, and they focus on the teeming drama of life in the city.

George Bellows lived the first half of his life in Ohio, and the second half in Manhattan. One of his paintings sold recently for thirty million dollars.

"STAG NIGHT AT SHARKEY'S" BY GEORGE BELLOWS (1909) THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART
"STAG NIGHT AT SHARKEY'S" BY GEORGE BELLOWS (1909) THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART
IVAN ALBRIGHT IN 1944
IVAN ALBRIGHT IN 1944

Ivan Albright

Ivan Albright (1897-1983) of Chicago is a painter of magic realism. His dark, mysterious paintings are among the most meticulous ever made—some taking years to complete.

Ivan Albright focused on life, death, and the spirit world. His art is nothing if not original.

"PORTRAIT OF MARY BLOCK" BY IVAN ALBRIGHT (1957)
"PORTRAIT OF MARY BLOCK" BY IVAN ALBRIGHT (1957)
"INTO THE WORLD THERE COMES A SOUL CALLED IDA" BY IVAN ALBRIGHT (1930) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"INTO THE WORLD THERE COMES A SOUL CALLED IDA" BY IVAN ALBRIGHT (1930) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Doris Lee

Doris Lee (1905-1983) of Illinois was a folk artist and an art teacher. She studied in France, Italy and California.

Doris Lee was also an illustrator for books and magazines. She later lived in Woodstock, New York; and maintained a studio in Manhattan.

DORIS LEE IN 1944
DORIS LEE IN 1944
"THANKSGIVING" BY DORIS LEE (1935) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"THANKSGIVING" BY DORIS LEE (1935) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Archibald Motley

Archibald Motley (1891-1981) of Chicago was the first African-American artist to have a one-man exhibit in New York City.

Heavily influenced by the jazz music scene, Archibald Motley painted African-Americans doing the same things white people enjoyed doing: including here, having a good time out on the town.

ARCHIBALD MOTLEY SELF PORTRAIT (1920)
ARCHIBALD MOTLEY SELF PORTRAIT (1920)
"NIGHTLIFE" BY ARCHIBALD MOTLEY (1943) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"NIGHTLIFE" BY ARCHIBALD MOTLEY (1943) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Harry Anderson

Harry Anderson (1906-1996) of Chicago worked extensively creating art for prominent magazines before he became a renowned painter of Christian themes.

Harry Anderson worked for both the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints.

HARRY ANDERSON
HARRY ANDERSON
"JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM" BY HARRY ANDERSON
"JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM" BY HARRY ANDERSON

Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses (1860-1961) of New York is a renowned American folk artist who became a painter in her seventies, after arthritis forced her to give up her career in embroidery.

Grandma Moses painted what was called primitive art, but one of her paintings hangs in the White House and another sold for a million dollars.

GRANDMA MOSES IN 1953
GRANDMA MOSES IN 1953
"COUNTRY FAIR" BY GRANDMA MOSES (1950)
"COUNTRY FAIR" BY GRANDMA MOSES (1950)

Arnold Friberg

Arnold Friberg (b. 1913) grew up in Arizona and currently resides in Salt Lake City.   He first achieved fame for the 300 paintings he created of the Canadian Mounties.  Arnold Friberg drew maps for the U.S. Army while serving at the front during WWII; worked in Hollywood for Cecil B. DeMille; and created a series of paintings based on the Book of Mormon.  

"THE PRAYER AT VALLEY FORGE" BY ARNOLD FRIBERG (1975) MOUNT VERNON
"THE PRAYER AT VALLEY FORGE" BY ARNOLD FRIBERG (1975) MOUNT VERNON

Audrey Flack

Audrey Flack (b. 1931) of New York is a photorealist painter and a sculptor.

The art of Audrey Flack is created from a feminist perspective.

The painting below is an extended allegory that represents passion, the brevity of life, and the transience of beauty.

AUDREY FLACK IN 2001
AUDREY FLACK IN 2001
"QUEEN" BY AUDREY FLACK (1976)
"QUEEN" BY AUDREY FLACK (1976)
working

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