Biographies are written by Bruce H. Bentzman.
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Thomas Pollock Anshutz is probably best known to most folks by a single painting, “The Ironworkers’ Noontime”. The painting hangs at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and portray a group of “puddlers” (the most skilled workers in the factory who determine the ingredients that get melted together in a cauldron) on their break from work in a nail factory. They are stripped to their waist and stretching, looking somewhat like ballet dancers warming up at the bar. But Anshutz also has work hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “A Rose” ; the National Gallery of Art, “Rooftops, St. Cloud” [unknown]; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, “Checker Players” . But we at the Club know him well, and have his forty-four portraits of fellow members forming a frieze along the tops of the walls in the library, part of the evidence that Anshutz loved the Club and the Club loved him.
Those portraits began when a popular member, William J. Clark, Jr. died the 1st August 1889; Anshutz presented to the Club an unfinished oil sketch of Mr. Clark. In March of 1892, Anshutz offered to paint the portraits of other members, the paintings to always remain the property of the Club. The only stipulation was that each sitter had to furnish his own canvas, properly stretched and of a uniformed size. Anshutz completed sixteen portraits by October. In 1895, before the series was completed, the Club honored Anshutz by presenting him with a silver table service. The last portrait was finished in 1900.
“The lank and sedate Kentuckian, Prof. Anshutz, was forced at the point of a sword, to dangle and flop his number ten bug-crushers to the wild jig music rendered by Prof. Schell,” so reads a passage in Seventy-Five Years of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Born 1851 in Newport, Kentucky, Anshutz came with his family to Philadelphia when he was nineteen. He began his artistic training under Lemuel Wilmarth at the National Academy of Design in New York, but later returned to Philadelphia in 1876 to enroll in the classes Thomas Eakins taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A year later he was the assistant demonstrator in the Academy’s dissecting room. By 1881 he was a member of the faculty.
Again we take a peek into the Club’s history book: ” A very large attendance of members and guests, enjoyed the exhibition and afterwards the entertainment provided at the Annual meeting in January 1881. Mr. Clark was again re-elected President, and the Club’s award for ‘the best carefully finished study’ was voted to Thomas Anshutz, who was a popular member of the Club then and for many years following. At this time he had just become an instructor in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts School, where as a member of the faculty he was instrumental from time to time in introducing many of its students into Sketch Club membership. He was a man of deep knowledge and gentle tolerance, with a mind that was keenly and continually receptive to new methods and new ideas. As a member of the Club, he was a powerful influence in stimulating and sustaining interest in the serious endeavors of the members. As an instructor he was unequalled. He had much to do with the aroused enthusiasm for the sketching part of the program.”
Although Anshutz at first adored Eakins and was regarded as Eakins best student, in later years Anshutz sided against his mentor when Eakins was forced to resign as director of the Academy. Anshutz also tried, unsuccessfully, to force Eakins out of our Club, but I shall leave it to others to pick apart this peccadillo. He took Eakins place as the head of life classes in 1886. There is an etching by John Sloan in the Delaware Art Museum that shows Anshutz giving his talk on anatomy. (John Sloan, a former student of Anshutz, had walked out on his class after Anshutz complained about his sketching the students and not the bust.) Other students of Anshutz were Arthur Carles, Charles Demuth, Daniel Garber, William Glackens, Robert Henri, George Luks, John Martin, Charles Sheeler, and Everett Shinn. Among these names you will notice many of the Ashcan School. Anshutz had passed on Eakins emphasis for realism to a new generation. From 1909 until his death in 1912, Anshutz served as the director of the Academy, succeeding William Merritt Chase.
Thomas Anshutz died on the 16th June 1912. A special meeting of Club members was convened on the 17th to compose notes of condolence for his widow. Over forty Club members attended the funeral and made up most of the pall-bearers. The Philadelphia Sketch Club’s entranceway was draped in black for a fortnight.
Walter Emerson Baum
The mission of The Philadelphia Sketch Club is to encourage the creation and appreciation of fine art. Perhaps none have succeeded to the extent to which member Walter Emerson Baum achieved this purpose. From 1926 he began writing critiques of artist and exhibition reviews. He became the Art Editor for The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and The Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin from 1929 until 1956 (1929 Sat. 12-14, D13 “Members Exhibit at Sketch Club” – we need to eventually acquire a copy of this article for our archives). More importantly, he founded the Baum School of Art (1929 – formerly the Kline-Baum School of Art) and the Allentown Art Museum (1933 – formerly the Allentown Art Gallery). And he assisted in the start of a host of other art clubs, including the Circulating Picture Club. He has been called “The Father of Art in Lehigh Valley.”
We can be grateful that Walter did not fulfill his father’s expectation of following in the family trade as a barber. Instead he apprenticed himself to William T. Tego, and made his way into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and, of course, upstairs at our humble Club, where he made paintings of the posing nudes. Yet he would be best known for his landscapes, winning the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal for best landscape at the Academy in 1925. He did not fare as well with us, earning only an Honorable Mention from a 1939 Club exhibition. (However, his son, Dr Edgar Baum did better, taking the gold medal for a landscape in the Club’s 1942 show.)
Walter was a handsome man who remained slim and neatly dressed throughout his life. He sported a trim mustache (and our Club certainly needs more beards and mustaches) and combed his hair back from his forehead. I could find no photograph of him in which he wasn’t wearing a tie.
I recently traveled to Doylestown to view one of his paintings. Walter hangs among the Pennsylvania Im ssionist in the Lenfest Exhibition of the James A. Michener Art Museum. “The Narrows” 1936 oil on canvas 40″ x 50″ is one of my favorites. It portrays the old canal between the palisades and the Delaware River. The scene has winter snow, as so often one finds in his landscapes. Walter worked en plein air even during the worst winter storms. As one of his children tells it, “My father strapped an easel to his car’s fender, a palette to his door and painted away while my mother relaxed in the backseat, reading novels.”
This painting, “The Narrows,” is important to me because I know and delight in the area it portrays. I have driven through it many times during the last thirty years, in my sports car or on my motorcycle, for no better reason than to observe its beauty. In winter the springs form a frozen cascade of ice against the side of the cliffs. Alas, during my last visit to the museum I discovered the painting has been temporarily removed from the wall by the conservator.
Walter’s was a happy marriage of fifty-two years that produced four children. He was born and lived his life in Sellersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was the editor of The Sellersville Herald from 1921 to 1942, and authored a book, Two Hundred Years (1938), this being a history of Sellersville and the Pennsylvania German heritage. He died in Sellersville, in his sleep, the 12th July 1956.
In the last year of his life, he painted a scene of our Club’s garden, the interior facing the north wall: “Mid-City Retreat” casein on board 24″ x 30″ (in the collection of Mr & Mrs J. Lawrence Grim, Jr.)
It is very likely that some of us will remember Pete Boyle as a local television celebrity. I was very young and can barely recall the white-haired robust man who stood before a large white pad on an easel and chattered away as he drew cartoons. He was among the pioneers of television broadcasting, and came to it by accident.
In 1947, as a commercial artist for the Philadelphia Electric Company, his employers hired Pete to fill the time by drawing and speaking on an early television program called “Chalk Talk.” The program provided cooking demonstrations on the electric stoves the electric company wanted to sell. Pete found his instincts to be a ham, drawing and telling stories. In 1949, he was invited back to star on a new television show, “Chuck Wagon Pete,” broadcasting on WPTZ. It entailed an offering of Westerns and Our Gang films, and, of course, intervals of Pete gabbing to the kids while sketching. He became a children’s favorite and a staple of Channel 3, an NBC affiliate. For more than a dozen years, his several programs always followed a similar format, concluding in 1963 when it was a weekday show, “Lunch with Uncle Pete.” Throughout his career he was generous with his time and talent, making personal appearances at local elementary schools and children’s wards, and he died too soon in 1967.
The Philadelphia Sketch Club knew all too well Pete’s readiness to ham it up. He had joined our club in 1937. In our archives are to be found photographs of Pete performing in the club’s amateur production of “Thesmophoriazusai” by Aristophanes. When not in costume he was given to loud shirts and tweed jackets. He remained a member of our club for life, and in 1949, “The Year of the Termites,” he began service as our president.
Uncle Pete is yet another Philadelphia Sketch Club member who studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He worked in both oils and watercolors, had won two Cresson scholarships at the Academy, and he remained a serious artist even though he would be best known as a cartoonist. It was while he was at the Academy that he met fellow artist Alice Lewis of New Orleans, and she became his wife. Together, living in an eighteenth century fieldstone house in Berks Country, they had a daughter and two sons. One son, Peter Boyle, grew up to be the famous film actor and a television star just like his father.
Our fellow member and former president, the avuncular Pete, was born Francis Xavier Boyle on the 13th February 1903. He was known for his joviality and his ability to mimic the sounds of animals, to be appreciated by children and club members alike.
Hugh Henry Breckenridge
On a Friday afternoon, the 20th May 1892, at the old Wynnewood grounds, our Club first made the acquaintance of Hugh Henry Breckenridge. According to the Club’s history, it was a policy of the Club to “cultivate, encourage and enroll young students,” and the way they went about this in 1892 was “to play a game of baseball with the male students of the Pennsylvania Academy of [the] Fine Arts….” Mr. Breckenridge, a student at PAFA, was playing shortstop on the opposing team.
Born in Leesburg, Virginia in 1870, young Hugh was fortunate to have a teacher, Paul Laughlin, who urged him into art school. In 1887, Hugh entered into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1892, the same year as the baseball game, Hugh was awarded a scholarship that allowed him to travel to Europe and study at the Academie Julian in Paris. When in 1894 he returned from Europe, he joined the teaching staff of PAFA and would teach there for the next forty years. It was also in 1894 that Brecky demonstrated his acumen by joining our Club. He became Director of Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore in 1919.
Over his long career his talent found successful expression in many painting styles. His work became less representational as he evolved. In 1904, he had acquired the manner of the Impressionist. By 1922 he was exhibiting works of Abstraction. Nevertheless, when it suited him, he could revert to earlier styles. Also, his life included many friends, Willam Merritt Chase, Charles Demuth, Robert Henri, Walter Elmer Schofield who accompanied him on his first trip to Europe, and John Sloan. Brecky became a dear friend of fellow PAFA teacher and Club member Thomas Anshutz. Together they established the Darby School of Painting. When Anshutz died in 1912, Brecky was among the pallbearers. In later years, Brecky opened his own school in East Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Brecky married twice. His first wife was Roxanna Grace Holme. Of their two children, one died young. After the death of his first wife, he would marry again, Dorothy Dozier, who was one of his students.
Hugh Henry Breckenridge died in 1937. After sixty-five years, the spirit of Brecky returns to our Club in the manifestation of a large painting entitled “In the Studio”. The restored work is presently hanging in our library at the club.
Oh, and in that baseball game of 1892, the Philadelphia Sketch Club beat the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts by a whopping 15 to 7.
While Alexey Brodovitch was only a member of the Club for a short time, 1931-1933, I felt he deserved mention because of the important role he played in modern graphic design. He was not an easy man to like, a sour, demanding, impatient man who has been described as unhappy in life, yet even as he was hard on his students, he commanded a great deal of respect. Many of his students flourished under the catalyst of his tutelage.
Russian born (1898), he postponed entering the Imperial Art Academy in order to fight in the army of the Czar, first against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later the Bolsheviks. He never made it to the Academy. Defeated, he fled Russia in 1920 for Paris with his family and future wife. In Paris he flourished. He won the poster design for the 1924 Bal Banal, a benefit dance for poor artists, even beating out Picasso.
Famous in Europe for his design work, the Philadelphia College of Art wanted Alexey to start a department of advertising for the school. The Club’s own Edward Warwick (the elder) saw to it that Alexey came to Philadelphia and soon afterwards Alexey became a member of our Club. It should be noted that Alexey was an accomplished painter. Sadly, much of his art was lost in two house fires in the 1950s.
In 1931, the Club presented a show of Russian Posters. It presents us with the only mention of Alexey in Sidney Lomas’s history: “On the opening night of this Poster Exhibition, Alexey Brodovitch, one time leader in Paris of the modern movement in advertising art, spoke of the work he was doing at the School of Industrial Art to broaden the field of this new trend in commercial designing.” (The show, by the way, was a bit scandalous. It drew front-page attention by the Philadelphia Public Ledger. One Dorothy Grafly wrote an article titled ‘Red Menace’.)
His was only a short stay in Philadelphia. Alexey was lured away by Carmel Snow, the new editor of Harper’s Bazaar. As their Art Director, for the next 25 years Alexey revolutionized graphic design by ignoring margins, emphasizing photography, employing asymmetrical layouts, and making use of expansive space. He changed the face of magazine design, opening it up to every possibility, and his influence continues in the industry.
Among Alexey’s students were photographers Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Art Kane, and Hiro. He also used the talents of Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Man Ray.
Alexey continued to teach at his Design Laboratory with the New School for Social Research. I’m sure he was not less difficult there than in Philadelphia. The last three years of his life were lived in southern France, where he died in 1971.
Henry T. Cariss
It has become my habit, rather I have been cleverly manipulated, into composing a short column for the Portfolio in which I tell about one of our Club’s prestigious past members. This month I was to write a little bit about Henry T. Cariss. Despite my research, I never learn what middle name that “T” stands for. What I did learn is that the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution hold copies of some papers relating to Henry, our native son. In 1992, the Smithsonian Institution borrowed this material from our own eminent Bill Patterson Number One (there now being a Number Two as well, often found eating in the rathskeller). Bill received the papers from the family of Henry’s only son. I can shirk work as quickly as the next member, and, so, this month will permit our President to tell us of Henry. In Bill’s own words:
“Henry T. Cariss (1850-1903) is the bald gentleman whose portrait looks down at you as you enter the Pool Room from the Library. The placement of his portrait in an important position next to George F. Bensell, the Club’s first
President, is probably no accident. The Club’s history from the 1880s reveals the following on Cariss. ‘.Cariss, in his early thirties, was a most popular member of the Club, with a good singing voice, which he was always ready and willing to inflict on social gatherings. He was a painter of some reputation, with a fondness for historical subjects. He was first elected President on January 4, 1883, and served the members faithfully and well in that office for five consecutive years.’ Prior to that, Cariss had been Vice President from 1881 to 1883.
“Cariss was born in Philadelphia and studied under Peter Moran and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins. After an early career as a scene painter in several Philadelphia theaters, Cariss’ oil paintings gained him recognition. He was a prominent figure in Philadelphia art circles and his work as a painter and etcher dealt largely with figural subjects and historical scenes.
“Besides his important positions at the Sketch Club, some of Cariss’ noteworthy distinctions include being a member of the Philadelphia Society of Etchers, a founder of the Philadelphia Art Club, a Juror at the Academy in 1885, and a member of the Philadelphia Society of Artists. His most famous work, Oath of Allegiance at Valley Forge, was both painted and etched. Recently, a painting by Cariss entitled Contentment sold at a William Doyle Gallery auction in New York for $36,000. Cariss was also a stained glass designer from 1884 to 1893 and for a period of time ran the Centuries Stained Glass Co. in Philadelphia. He was a member of the Sketch Club from 1878 until his death in 1903.”
So, Bill, what does the “T” stand for?
Howard Chandler Christy
The year was 1921 and Howard Chandler Christy was invited to Atlantic City to be one of the judges of the first Miss America Beauty Contest. Norman Rockwell, who was another of the judges, described how “Christy would appear in a white suit and broad-brimmed Stetson with a beautiful contestant on each arm, and the photographers would leave us milling about and run to take his picture….” Outgoing, jovial, a man of considerable panache, his life and style were as much in the public’s eye as was his art.
He had an eye for beautiful women, portrayed by his pen and brush. They became a recognizable style referred to as the Christy Girl, whose playful and animated feminine features replaced the stiff and restrained Gibson Girl ideal of the previous generation.
He married his model Maybelle Thompson in 1898. They had one daughter, Natalie Chandler Christy. That tumultuous marriage ended in divorce. Then he was introduced to a Gibson Girl by Charles Dana Gibson himself. Her name was Nancy May Palmer, who was then recast as the prototype of the Christy Girl and became his second wife. Late in life it was another of his models, Elise Ford, an aspiring painter and dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, who became his companion for fifteen years. She gave him a second daughter, Holly Christina Ford.
Being a great patriot, Howard Chandler Christy was one of several artists to come down from New York in April of 1919 to take part in the Camac Street Carnival, an extravaganza planned by the Club’s own H. Devitt Welsh to raise money for the Fifth (Victory) Liberty Bond Campaign. It was at this time that he became a member of our Club, even though he remained a resident of the Hotel des Artiste in Manhattan, where, starting in 1917, he was one of the new building’s first residents. Staying a member into 1924 must have been his way of honoring and supporting our Club, after all, we already possessed many equally famous fellow artists of the Golden Age of American Illustrators.
Born 10th January 1873 in Morgan County, Ohio, he was four years old and already sketching when his father, Francis Marion Christy, a farmer, took his son to Zanesville to visit the artist Charles Craig. From that moment, Howard knew he wanted to be an artist and pleaded with his father for a set of watercolors. Despite their poverty, his father and mother, Mary Matilda Bone Chandler, supported Howard’s desire to be an artist and bought him that watercolor set. When he was ten years old, he had his first commission, the sign for a butcher shop, which entailed a picture of a white bull silhouetted against a blue sky.
In addition to his sketches of combat, he proved himself an able writer when covering the Spanish-American War for Harpers, Scribner’s, and Leslie’s Weekly, traveling with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. So began his successful career in magazine illustrations. He devoted himself to being an illustrator to the disappointment of his private teacher, William Merritt Chase, who for some time thereafter refused to speak to Howard. Then Howard retired from illustration in 1921 to devote himself to painting portraits. His subjects included such noteworthies as Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge (and wife), and Herbert Hoover, also General John J. Pershing, the Prince of Wales, Benito Mussolini, the Italian Crown Prince of Umberto, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Amelia Earhart, and Will Rogers. Howard died 4th March 1952 in his beloved apartment at the Hotel des Artiste, leaving behind several commissions in progress, including a portrait of Douglas MacArthur.
Perhaps his tour de force is “The Signing of the Constitution” painted in 1940. He did considerable research to get costumes and portraits exactingly correct. The mural shows only 39 of the 55 delegates. Howard did not care to show the three delegate who did not sign nor the thirteen others who had left. The work is displayed in the Capitol Rotunda along the east stairway of the House of Representatives wing.
But during these difficult and dangerous times, when access to our Federal buildings can be restricted, perhaps it would be best to go to Manhattan and eat at the Café des Artistes in the Hotel des Artiste. For there you can eat well and drink wine while surrounded by six murals of happy nymphs from Howard Chandler Christy’s brush. While you are there, look for Howard’s face peering out from behind table thirty-eight, a small portrait by his dear friend James Montgomery Flagg.
John J. Dull
John J. Dull was born in Philadelphia the 6th December 1859. He studied art and architecture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He joined T Square Club in 1880, but we at the Philadelphia Sketch Club know him better as an artist, particularly watercolorist. He joined our Club in 1895, was one of the honorary pallbearers for Anshutz, and remained a member until his death.
He had worked as an architect for Wilson Brothers & Company, the architectural firm responsible for Reading Terminal (1892). By 1893, John Dull had started his own architectural firm. In later years, with Arthur Truscott, he established a Beaux-Arts style atelier in the architectural department at Drexel Institute.
However, as most concerns us, John Dull was a major figure in this Club, serving on its board and taking other active roles. He was a frequent winner of the Club’s prizes for his sketches, and his face is included among the portraits watching from the wall of our library. He supervised the construction that altered the former small residences to become our present clubhouse. At most times he was gentile, but inclined to be a bit cantankerous and critical at other times. He was known to scold members for their slackening interest in sketching exercises, and for that I especially like him. We need him now!
It was John Dull who introduced to the Club the idea of having large public exhibitions of club-members’ works. To this end a committee was formed in 1899 with Dull appointed its chairman. To quote Sidney Lomas’s history, “Mr. Dull was fast becoming a factor in altering the character of a club that was about his own age. He was instrumental in securing an out-of-town house as headquarters for sketching parties, which they first occupied the following
spring of 1900. It was a small farm house at Adele, PA., renting for $5.50 per month.”
It needs to be said that John Dull was not in favor of the younger members playing indoor baseball, believing it to be disruptive to fellow members wanting a quiet smoke and to read. Nor was John Dull pleased when Henry Troth convinced the Club it needed a pool table. A secondhand, regulation-sized pool table was installed into Dull’s precious gallery. However, as Chairman of the Exhibition Committee, he did not allow anyone to play on it during the remainder of his term in office. Eventually, when skittles ceased to be a fad with members, the pool table was brought down to the skittles room, the place it presently occupies.
Our illustrious Club Elder, Bill Campbell, remembers taking instruction from John Dull, when he taught watercolor at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. As often as he could, Dull would take his class out-of-doors. While his students worked, so did Dull, but much quicker. He would make several watercolors to fit into small frames purchased at the five-and-dime, which he would then take to the Club and sell for eight and twelve dollars. Dull wore over a bald spot a skull cap that appeared to have been the crown cut from an old felt hat. He also limped, have slipped on the icy pavement by the Union League building and broken his hip in the winter of 1932. Being confined for months at the Presbyterian Hospital was the only time he was kept from attending the Grub Club, where he otherwise faithfully sat always in the same seat facing the kitchen.
Frank L. Smith, a commercial artist, came in to the Grub Club one day proud of his big architectural rendering of a new façade for the Reading Terminal. He had modernized it, stripping it of its balconies, columnars, and festoons. John Dull had only a few words to say about the old façade, and he spoke them with deliberation, “I designed that.”
John Dull died the 16th January 1949. For a long time no one would sit in the seat he had occupied at the Grub Club. As Frank L. Smith declared, “I’ll never sit in that seat; I would feel like I’m sitting in John Dull’s lap.”
Cowperthwaite? Cowperthwaite! I had no idea. I’m glad I only have to write it. I don’t know that I could pronounce it.
Perhaps the most illustrious, or maybe the most infamous, member of our distinguished Club was Thomas Eakins. He has been acclaimed our Nation’s greatest artist, an arbitrary measure at best. I could not use such meaningless extremes to describe any artist, yet I personally find his work fantastic. And when John Singer Sargent visited Philadelphia, it was for the expressed purpose of meeting Eakins.
Born in Philadelphia, 25th July 1844, Eakins’ life as an artist began with appreciative parents who had many artist friends. His father, from an Irish immigrant family, a writing master and calligrapher, and his Quaker mother were both supportive of his interest in art. A good student, Central High School (1857-1861) served him well in preparing him for his lifelong interest in the sciences and his professional art career. Starting as a self-taught artist, studying from books, with artist friends he ventured off to draw and paint the countryside while the Civil War raged. In 1862 he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and even at his young age this American realist registered to observe demonstrations in anatomy and surgery at Jefferson Medical College. Most of his life would be in Philadelphia, and in Philadelphia Eakins died the 25th June 1916.
After the war was over, in September of 1866, when he was twenty-two, Eakins sailed for Paris to continue his education in art while leading the life of a Bohemian (who carried a Smith & Wesson pistol in his pocket). He entered into the studio of Jean-Léon Gérôme at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, learning to paint from life and to capture an uncompromising realism of his subjects. He was more concerned with his study than with exhibiting at the Salons as did his Philadelphia contemporaries, Howard Roberts and Mary Cassatt. He also worked with the sculptor Augustin-Alexandre Dumont and the painter Léon Bonnat before leaving in November of 1869 for Spain to study the works of Diego Velazquez and Josepe de Ribera. He was home in Philadelphia by the 4th July 1870.
He spent a brief spell in New York City continuing his Bohemian life on this side of the Atlantic, but soon resorted to the comfortable middle-class life of his family in Philadelphia. It was in 1874 that he began his association with the Philadelphia Sketch Club, which invited him to teach an evening life class. He gained the reputation of being an inspiring teacher and eventually our Club made him an Honorary member.
With Howard Roberts, Eakins was an advisor on the design of the classrooms in the new Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts building. It was 1876 and he joined the faculty, first as an unpaid assistant to Christian Schessele, then, at Schessele’s death in August of 1879, Eakins was named professor of drawing and painting to the Academy.
Prudery in Philadelphia can be traced back to Charles Willson Peale’s (1741-1827) attempt to establish the first art academy, the Columbianum. He was not allowed to show a replica of the Venus de’ Medici publicly. When at a meeting he moved that the academy’s students should be allowed to draw a living figure, his rich patrons marched out in a body. Peale persisted in having a nude model for his students, went so far as to try and employ a baker who was having money problems. The baker was only half undressed, when he found he could not bear the embarrassment and stamped out of the school denouncing it an institution of the devil. It was left to a very old Charles Willson Peale to take it upon himself to become Philadelphia’s first public nude model. In his time, Eakins would fall victim to the same prudery.
Eakins teaching at the Academy was considered radical. He played down the importance of drawing from casts and sculptures to focus on painting from nude models, as was done in Paris, and to study dissection. It wasn’t that the study of the naked body was unusual, but Eakins’ insistence that women follow an identical course of life-study classes was too much for prudish Philadelphia.
In 1882 Eakins was appointed director of the Academy. That same year a certain mother wrote to the Academy’s president James Claghorn, “That daughter at home had been shielded from every thought that might lead her young mind from the most rigid chastity. Her mother had never allowed her to see her young naked brothers, hardly her sisters after their babyhood & yet at the age of eighteen, or nineteen, for the culture of high Art, she had entered a class where both male & female figures stood before her in their horrid nakedness..”
In February of 1886, the Academy could tolerate it no longer. Eakins had removed the loincloth from a male model in a women’s life-class to demonstrate the muscle function of the pelvis. The Academy gave him an ultimatum and forced him to resign, since he could not accept the conditions under which he could remain. His forced resignation received considerable attention from the press of the time, yet he was championed by appreciative students who signed a petition in his behalf. When Eakins left the Academy, thirty-eight students also quit and formed the Art Students’ League in Philadelphia, where Eakins taught without pay. But Eakins was not happy. Depression kept him from painting for more than a year, until a trip to the Dakota Bad Lands in the summer of 1887 restored him.
But by other accounts, there was more to it than Eakins just being ahead of his time. There were other charges about his relations to his female students. In fact, Eakins married in 1884 one of his students, a first-rate artist, Susan Hannah Macdowell. His sister, Frances, had remained loyal until her own daughter committed suicide, for which Frances held her brother responsible. It is said he shocked his wife’s friends by appearing indecently dressed, and that he drove from his studio some of the women who sat for him when he insisted they pose nude.
In any case, our Club was not all too kind and had also tried to dispose of him. But since there was no established procedure to concluding an Honorary membership, it would appear Eakins was never really thrown out of the Club. But it wasn’t from the lack of Thomas Anshutz trying. And the Club has made a special point of confirming and securing his membership posthumously.
Before his death, Eakins went on to lecture and teach at the Brooklyn Art Guild (1881-1885), the Arts Student League (1885-1888), the Cooper Union (1887-1897), the National Academy of Design (1888-1895), and he also gave anatomy lectures at Drexel Institute until he was again dismissed for using a nude model in a mixed class.
Can there be anyone reading this who didn’t already know the legendary Eakins? One of his greatest masterpieces, The Gross Clinic, hangs but two blocks down Locust Street from our Club at Thomas Jefferson University only right now that wall is bare. The large painting has been moved over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a special exhibition on Eakins, 4th October 2001 – 6th January 2002 (when the show flies off to the Musée d’Orsay, Paris). We must support this show. At this stressful time in our Nation there will be fewer folks travelling from afar to come see it.
(This article appeared in the January 2007 PSC Portfolio. The Gross Clinic was purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art the same year with support from 3,400 donors.)
Richard Blossom Farley
Behind the steel door that protects the Philadelphia Sketch Club’s archives are many fading memories of earlier members. They were men, because for many years women could not be members, who were famous in their time. In our membership files are the decaying sketches of Richard Blossom Farley. His works languish in museums, not being exhibited at the Allentown Art Museum, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Reading Museum of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Born in Poultney, Vermont the 24th October 1875, he joined our fair institution in 1896 and remained a member until his death. Nor was he merely a member in name, but was quite active, being involved in decorating many of the Club’s affairs, a frequent exhibitor and indulger and singer in the Club’s Epicurean revels, and a member of the Grub Club. A large painting of sand dunes by Blossom for a long time hung over the Club’s library fireplace. In 1921, Blossom graciously allowed it to be replaced by Adam Pietz bas-relief panel of Anshutz. Blossom had attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Anshutz had been one of his teachers. (Others include Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, Howard Pyle, and James McNeill Whistler.) In 1914, Blossom gave the after dinner talk at one of the Club’s monthly meetings, his subject landscape painting.
Fortunately, we can see his work. His landscapes of the New Jersey shore are, at least for now, to be found at the Schwarz Gallery. His portrait of remarkable Christine Wetherill Stevenson, actress, playwright, and philanthropist, can be seen at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, which she founded.
Blossom was also known for his murals. He did murals for the dining room of what was the new University Club in 1930, for which the architect was Grant Miles Simon, another member of our Club. Another mural was for the New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton, now the University of New Jersey. Blossom fulfilled yet another commission to decorate the four walls of the two-story reception hall of the Rogers Building at the Theosophical Society’s Olcott Center in Wheaton, Illinois. But Blossom abandoned painting murals, complaining that housepainters were making more.
It should be remarked upon that Blossom joined other Club members in helping the military during the Great War. At the request of fellow Club member Brigadier General Charles T. Cresswell, they painted twenty-six “Landscape Targets” (3 ½ feet by 14 feet each) to be used at Camp Meade. Blossom was also among the Club members who served the Camouflage Section of the U.S. Shipping Board, preparing the designs and superintending the painting of various ships.
Richard Blossom Farley was slender man with a well-trimmed beard. Dying in 1954, he had lived long enough to be remembered by our William H. Campbell. In a letter that Bill wrote to me about Blossom, “He dressed like a gentleman of the early 1900’s with a derby, rolled up umbrella, high top shoes, etc. One day he came to lunch and was delighted to report that he was now the last living student of Whistler, since he had read that the only other living student had just died.”
Arthur Burdett Frost
Our friend, Dick Cohen, Archivist-General, informed me that former club member Arthur Burdett Frost, his membership lasting from 1873 to 1883, resigned from our Club when he had decided to marry Emily Phillips and move to Long Island. It was proposed at that time to make Mr Frost an honorary member. “The members held Mr Frost in high esteem, but could see no special reason for bestowing this distinction upon him and the proposition was voted down. Mr Frost’s resignation was handed in at the next meeting, Jan 25th; there was some delay but it was finally accepted with the customary expression of regret.” Today Mr Frost’s artwork is being commemorated on a stamp, an illustration of Br’er Rabbit for the “Uncle Remus” tales by Joel Chandler Harris, probably the art work for which Mr Frost is most famous.
A. B. Frost is among twenty artists that had been recommended by our brethren in New York, the Society of Illustrators, to mark their Society’s 100th anniversary on 1st February 2001. On that date the U.S.P.S. issued a sheet of stamps in tribute to American illustrators. Nor is Mr Frost our only club member to be found included there. The Society of Illustrators had elected Arthur Burdett Frost, posthumously in 1985, to their Hall of Fame artists. Perhaps our club should now reconsider his honorary membership.
Born in Philadelphia the 17th January 1851, Mr Frost worked for a wood engraver and then a lithographer while sketching in the evenings. It was here in Philadelphia he launched his long career as an illustrator, beginning in 1874 as one of the contributors to Max Adeler’s book, ~Out of the Old Hurly-Burly or, Life in An Odd Corner~, a satire on American village life. The book sold over a million copies – and first editions can still be bought for less than twenty dollars. By 1876, he was working as a staff illustrator for “Harper’s Magazine”. There, under the tutelage of Charles Parsons, art director at Harper and Brothers, the largest publisher in the country at the time, Frost found himself a member of a select group of young illustrators who included Edwin Austin Abbey, Howard Pyle, and Charles Stanley Reinhart. It was the Golden Age of Illustration.
Mr Frost’s pen illustrations found homes in such magazines as Century, Scribner’s, Cosmopolitan, and Colliers. He illustrated stories and books by Frank R. Stockton, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Andrew Lang. In addition to his illustrations, he produced numerous cartoon strips, caricatures, comic drawings, and serious sketches of shooters and golfers.
Through it all, Mr Frost wanted to be a painter. As with so many here at the Club, we find Mr Frost also attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He studied briefly with Thomas Eakins and makes an appearance in Eakins’ famous painting, “the Swimming Hole”. The young Frost is the redhead fellow. In the years 1877 to 1888, he studied in London, where he came to the attention of Lewis Carroll. Having returned to the States, in 1891 he was a pupil of impressionist painter, William Merritt Chase. Our wandering artist was living in Paris in 1906. Just a year later, Henri Matisse started art classes in Paris and Mr Frost was one of the artists to enroll. And while in Europe, Mr Frost learned that both his sons had tuberculosis.
Mr Frost returned to America in 1914. In 1917 his oldest son, Arthur Burdett Frost, Jr died before he was thirty. It was devastating to his father and cast a shadow over the remainder of his life. “We have no Christmas and never will have again,” he wrote with regards to his son, whose birthday was close to Christmas. In December of 1919 he moved again, taking residence in California, and in California he died on 22nd June 1928 at the home of his surviving son, John Frost, an artist and landscapist.
Arthur Burdett Frost will be better remembered as an illustrator with pen than for his paintings. He was always hindered by his colorblindness. It left his color work appearing washed-out. Still, he exhibited his works at the Paris Exposition of 1900.
Daniel Garber was only briefly a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, from 1914 to 1917. Still, his stature as perhaps the best of the Pennsylvania Impressionist warrants his mention here. He is described by Brian H. Peterson, Senior Curator at the James A. Michener Art Museum, as “the most accomplished of the Bucks County painters: the most masterful technician, with the most profound and ambitious vision.” I have spent long spells resting on the hard gallery benches of the James A. Michener Museum to meditate on two of Garber’s paintings, “A Wooded Watershed” and “The Studio Wall”. His idyllic landscapes are delicate and inviting, his portraits are quiet moments of harmony.
He was born to a Mennonite farmer on the 11th April 1880 in North Manchester, Indiana, the youngest of eleven children. He was a professional artist by age sixteen and was training at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1897. By 1899 he was enrolled in summer art classes at the Darby
School for Painting in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania and was there regarded as Anshutz’s star student, “the most gifted exponent of the Darby School.” It soon followed that he continued his studies under Anshutz, and also William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1899 to 1905. He became expert at all the two-dimensional arts, drawing, etching, and drypoint in addition to his painting.
Garber met his wife, Mary Franklin, an art student at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design), while she was modeling for PSC member Hugh Breckenridge’s portrait class. They were married 21st June 1901 – and not 1904, as reported in Pennsylvania Impressionism edited by Peterson). He won the William Emlen Cresson Traveling Scholarship and traveled in Europe, to be influenced by the French
On his return to the States, he was first hired in 1907 to teach at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, was then hired, 1909, to teach at the Pennsylvania Academy, where he became an established figure for the next forty-one years. He adhered to the highest standards of formal training, holding the onslaught of abstract expressionists at bay. As he put it, “Modern art? I don’t care for it myself. I don’t like to be a snake shedding its skin every so often. I have never vacillated or changed in my work – so far as my real feeling for art is concerned.” His work was never considered innovative, but was steeped in tradition and draftsmanship.
His students feared him as much as admired him. The Thursdays he provided his critiques were customarily referred to as Garber Day. Former Garber student Roswell Theodore Weidner, who taught at the Academy until 1996, related the story of Garber at one of these sessions asking a young woman if she knew how to cook. When the surprised student responded, “Fairly well,” Garber quipped, “Good, because you can’t paint.”
In 1907, with the help of William L. Lathrop, Garber came to live in Bucks County, in the vicinity of New Hope and the community of fellow famous artists. He bought the Kenderdine Homestead in Lumberville, where the Cuttalossa Creek empties into the Delaware River, and renamed his new home Cuttalossa. It is a wooded area, serene and beautiful, still worth the visit. No longer the Garber estate, it is now the Cuttalossa Farm, breeders of Olde English Miniature Babydoll Southdown Sheep – whatever they are. And why not? I’ve seen photographs of Garber herding sheep at his home. Whether he’s herding sheep or teaching class, he is always sporting a bowtie.
In 1950, Daniel Garber retired from teaching at the Academy. Sadly, while still active as a painter, having lost none of his skill, he fell from a ladder outside his studio at Cuttalossa and died. It was 1958 and he was seventy-eight years old.
Frank Gasparro was born in South Philadelphia, the first of seven children. The year was 1909. Even before he graduated Vare Junior High School his talent for sculpture was recognized. He began studying sculpture seriously at the Fleisher Art Memorial and apprenticed to Giuseppe Donato (a student of Rodin) even while he was attending South Philadelphia High School. By 1955 he would become an instructor at the Fleisher Art Memorial, teaching even late in life, appearing to classes using a walker. Frank also attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1928 to 1931, from which he won grants to study sculpture in Europe.
Graduating during the (not so) Great Depression, he was fulfilling the role of a starving artist. His family had been made up of musicians and they had hoped he’d become one as well. I guess musicians eat more frequently. But in 1942 he was able to leave a job welding on defense projects at the Westinghouse plant in Lester, Delaware County to join the U.S. Mint – where he had been making repeated visits to pester them for employment. He would work there 39 years without ever taking a vacation, to miss only one day of work in 1952 because of the flu. In 1965, Frank was appointed Chief Engraver of the United States by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He retired in 1981.
The Sketch Club archives reveal little about the man in his comings and goings to the Club house. What our archives do reveal are his many accomplishments and honors.
In 1981 Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, designated one of the weeks in April to be Frank Gasparro Week.
In 1990 he received the first Samuel S. Fleisher Founder’s Award, which he had also designed. Speaking of design, here are a few of his others: the reverse of the Lincoln penny, the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar, both the obverse and reverse of the Eisenhower dollar, both the obverse and reverse of the Susan B. Anthony dollar; he also did the inaugural medals for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter; the Congressional medals for Marian Anderson, Douglas MacArthur, Thomas Dooley, and Sam Rayburn. He designed coins for Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, and the Philippines. He also designed a medal for Queen Elizabeth II’s Bicentennial visit in 1976 and a Memorial medal for Roberto Clemente. Still other medals are: The Benjamin Franklin medal, The City of Philadelphia medal, the 1980 US Olympic Team medal, the John Wayne commemorative medal, and then there was the Frank Gasparro medal, issued by Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., a one-ounce .999 fine silver medal bearing a self-portrait.
Frank died in September of last year. He was 92. He said, “I’m anonymous until I make a mistake.” But what news accounts our archives hold indicate he was very much loved by his colleagues and his students. Photographs reveal a man, slender and bald. Numerous quotes indicate that he had a sense of humor, did not take himself seriously, and enjoyed his long life and was happy in his vocation.
John H. Geiszel
John H. Geiszel came to Philadelphia from the war. In the Great War he was an Army lieutenant serving in the cavalry under Douglas MacArthur, who at the time was not yet a general. John was wounded in action in France, which was made plainly obvious for it left him with a distinguishable scar. A part of the back of his head and neck were missing, yet despite the seeming extent of the wound, it remarkably did not hamper him in any activity.
In Philadelphia, John studied art at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. Upon completing his studies under Thornton Oakley, he joined the Illustration Department, teaching Mediums and Reproduction at the very same school, a career lasting thirty-five years. Our own Bill Campbell was a student of his in 1934 and it was to Bill Campbell I went for much of the information gathered here .
John was born 31st October 1892 in Akron, Colorado and grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before going off to war. Arriving afterwards to Philadelphia and graduating from school, he joined our Club in 1924. He served a short spell as the Club’s Librarian, but resigned in favor of Otis W. Walter, a more serious and almost silent member. In time John would sit on the Board and eventually even serve as our Club’s President. Besides teaching, he was a free-lance illustrator for books and catalogues, a watercolorist, a landscape artist, and he painted murals for the Mastbaum Vocational-Technical School and for the Capitol building in Alaska .
From the beginning he was a participant in the Club’s plays and pantomimes, he sang, and he danced on the once well-waxed gallery floor. He was also the costume designer for the Club, for which he had professional experience. He had interrupted his art education to work in Hollywood where he created costumes for the likes of John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Mae Murray, and Norma Talmadge.
Wounded in war, so was he also wounded in play. This other injury took place at the “Outing” of 1934, during the battle of Branch Creek on the Telford, Pennsylvania estate of Walter Lynn. An account of his heroism has been dutifully recorded by Sidney Lomas: “John Geiszel in his mad effort to recover the swiftly moving volley ball, knocked out of bounds by Jim McKell, slipped on the wet grass, skidded violently onto the cemented pavement and lacerated the right side of his face and skinned his right knee joint. First aid treatment was applied for his quick recovery.”
To his fellow artists, some words of advice from John H. Geiszel. “It’s your paint, your canvas, and your brushes, but you have no right to make a bad painting if you can make a good one.” And, “The human eye resents monotony, just as the human ear does. Therefore, the painter must try to avoid it…. Irregularity is human. Maybe that’s why the human eye finds it more pleasing than monotony.” These are words from a lecture he gave at the Lancaster County Art Association.
When John died at the age of eighty-one years , his wife, Margaret (Peggy) Malpass, contacted the Club, wanting to do something for the Club in John’s memory. Mrs Geiszel was also an illustrator and worked for Curtis Publishing as the Art Editor of Jack & Jill Magazine.
“John always loved the Club,” she said, and astutely added, “but I thought it was a dirty old place.” However, through her generosity, we have established the John Geiszel Award and received a collection of John’s works.
What must not be overlooked is that John loved the Club and was the most beloved member of the Club. Bill Campbell remembers how John was at the Grub Club five days a week. And, like John Nemeth, John H. Geiszel is another spirit that haunts our rooms. Atop the library bookcase, next to the vase holding the ashes of John Nemeth, John Geiszel’s ashes reside in a brass box.
– – – – – – –
 It is fortunate that we have Bill Campbell. I searched the internet and books for information about John H. Geiszel and there is very little in extant. I’ve checked the “Artists File” in the art department of the main library of Philadelphia. They had nothing on John Geiszel. Talented he might have been, and good enough to teach and earn the respect of his colleagues, but he has so far failed the test of time. I eventually did find him in an old and dilapidated volume of Who’s Who in American Art, but he has left no obvious trail that I might follow. Should I be angry with him for having not been more ambitious?
 Evidence for these murals is to be found in a newspaper obituary filed away in our archives. It reads, “He created murals for such institutions as the Mastbaum Vocational School and the Capitol in Nome, Alaska.” The Mastbaum Vocational-Technical School still exists on Frankford Avenue and I would have visited it to see the mural had I more time. I found no mention or image of the murals on the internet.
The Capitol building in Alaska is, as to be expected, found in Juneau, the State capital, and not Nome. I could find no further mention of these murals and wish I had more time to have a friend find them and photograph them. I might still do this so as to be able to contribute the images to our archives.
 The newspaper clipping in our archives does not include the name of the newspaper from which it is taken, nor the date of the issue, it only tell us that John died on a previous Wednesday. I can determine the year because John was 81, so it was a Wednesday in 1973 or 1974.
Hugh McMillen Hutton
Hugh McMillen Hutton was known to a number of members, like
Bob Grooms and Bill Campbell. He persists in the Club’s living memory. If you
ask some of the more venerable members, they might remember hot days in the
upstairs gallery when, following Hugh’s suggestion to be comfortable, they
undressed to paint. Hugh went so far as to record the event in a cartoon (and
for a small sum I will tell you where it is). They might remember him falling
down drunk in the fish house punch and the effort to upright his six feet and
two hundred pounds in order to rescue the punch.
Not merely does Hugh persist in the Club’s living memory,
but his genes still float about our halls and rooms. The Club continues to draw
upon his genetic heritage to populate our Club in the manifestation of his
daughter, Betty MacDonald, and his granddaughter Susan Hutton DeAngelus. And
the author must ask himself why is he writing this when there are so many more
I inquired of the more qualified Betty and she gave me a
story of her father. It was a time before modern telecommunications and such
luxuries as the fax machine and the Internet. Hugh, a cartoonist for the
newspaper, had to drive back down to the office late one night because the
fickle news had changed and a different cartoon was now required. He somehow
missed a turn and drove right into Delaware Bay. With water all around the car,
he decided not to get out. in that it would ruin his wooden leg. So he stayed in
his car and slept.
In 1917, when he was only 19 and needed his father to sign a
release, Hugh enlisted in the First Minnesota Artillery. While on guard duty at
a flour mill, he was accidentally shot with a 45 caliber Colt by the fellow
recruit who was supposed to relieve him. The bullet passed through his left leg
and lodged in his right leg. To save his life, the left leg was amputated.
Ah, but we left the story with our Hugh comfortably
ensconced in his car, soothed to sleep by the lapping waters of the bay. In the
morning some fishermen came by and rescued the car with Hugh in it – before the
tide came it.
Hugh was an artist, an etcher and lithographer, but he was
foremost a newspaperman. Born 1897 in Lincoln, Nebraska, he began his newspaper
career delivering the Nebraska State Journal, later to work at that paper’s
pressroom, feeding paper into the presses. He became the telegraph editor for
the Nebraska State Journal. Eventually he brought his artistic talent and
jovial sense of humor to interpreting the news. He became a cartoonist for the
St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1925, for the Public Ledger in 1933, and for the
Inquirer in 1934, where he worked until retiring in 1970. In the 1950s he
traveled overseas to entertain the troops by taking to the stage and drawing
caricatures. They were called “chalk-talks”. As a cartoonist, his
works have often been reprinted in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time
New members will find an etching by Hugh appropriately
enough in the etching room. It shows fellow member Fred Weber surrounded by
bugs attracted to his new experimental media. Attracting bugs seemed typical of
Fred’s experiments with each new medium.
Hugh Hutton was a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club
from 1941 to 1976, the year of his death. For fifty-one years Hugh was married
to the artist Dorothy Wackerman. She is still alive. Betty writes: “Every
Monday night both my parents went to the Sketch Club to do etchings – actually
my Father often went up to the workshop and worked from the model, but was on
call to turn the etching press as the women in the group found this
difficult.” It might be that we are witnessing the beginning of a Sketch
– – – – – – –
 My job is to piece together the nature and contribution of a
former member to our Club for each issue of the PSC Portfolio. It is preferably
accomplished from the clues provided in our archives. I am to try and
manufacture a lifelike hint of someone who I was not fortunate enough to have
Daniel Ridgway Knight
If his father had his way his son, Daniel Ridgway Knight
would have had a career in a local hardware store. A native of
Philadelphia, born 15th March 1839 into a strict Quaker family, Daniel
demonstrated a preference for art. His talent was appreciated by his
grandfather who helped Daniel to enter the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine
Arts at nineteen and study with classmates Earl Shinn, Thomas Eakins, Mary
Cassatt, and one particular student who came from France to study at the
Academy, Lucien Crépon. Lucien enticed the young Daniel with the charms
of France, its wines and art classes. Daniel left the Academy in 1861 to
sail for France, before any of his peers, to continue his education at the
Ecole des Beaux-Art in the classes of Alexandre Cabanel. He also entered
into the private atelier of Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre, a Swiss artist who
also taught Monet, Renoir, and Whistler. Daniel might have stayed in
France, never to have honored our Club with his association had it not been for
the Civil War.
Daniel left France in 1863 to return home and enlist in the Union Army. He made sketches of battle scenes, recording
Civil War history. It was in 1864 that he joined the Club and the very
next year he was elected to serve as the Club’s Vice-President. But
Daniel would not stay long in America.
While in America, Daniel married the beautiful Rebecca Morris Webster, and,
according to Happy Lomas, “Mrs. D. Ridgeway Knight was commended by
President Heaton for her firm insistence on Mr. Knight’s attendance at Club
meetings.” After marrying, Daniel earned money painting portraits
until he had enough, in 1871, to return to France with his new wife. They
would never return to America, although Daniel would remain a non-resident
member of our Club until his death.
In Paris, Daniel continued his studies with historical painter Jean-Louis-Ernest
Meissonnier. It was a time when money was tight and Daniel began work on
a historical painting of the uprising of the French peasants against the
nobility in 1358. Not being able afford models, he used himself and his
then pregnant wife as the models for the escaping nobles. Mrs. Knight was
pregnant with the future landscape artist, Louis Aston Knight. The
painting, “The Fugitive”, was accepted at the Salon in 1873 and a
successful career was launched. He would regularly appear at the Salon.
The Knights moved to rural Poissy in the outskirts of Paris, where Meissonnier
had his studio, the elder French artist his mentor. In his book, Parisian
Art and Artists, Henry Bacon describes, “Mr. Knight has built in
his garden attached to his house at Poissy a studio of glass like an ordinary
hothouse. Here the artist can work in all weathers except the warmest,
and in the winter with the snow upon the ground, is able to sit comfortably and
finish pictures commenced in the summer, posing the model in a diffused light
similar to that in which it had been begun by a country roadside.”
In the 1890s, the Knights moved farther west in the Seine river valley, forty
miles from Paris, to Rolleboise-par-Bonniers where he built another glass
studio. Here he painted views of his garden terrace which overlooked the
Seine. He was prolific and successful, making a career of predominantly
painting peasants, mostly rosy-cheeked young women set in gardens and beautiful
His honors were many, too many to list here, but they included the French Cross
of the Legion of Honor and a Knight of the Royal Order of Saint Michael of
Bavaria. His “Hailing the
Ferry” won a silver medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle (for
which the Eiffel Tower was built), that painting now being in the possession of
Daniel’s alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Daniel
died in Paris, 9th March 1924, just shy of his eighty-fifth birthday.
Dr R Tait McKenzie
The year was 1904. The chapter title Happy Lomas uses in our
Club’s history for that year is “Sagging”, a reference to the drop in
the enrollment of new members. The year saw only five entrants, but among them
was Dr R Tait McKenzie. Physician, Sculptor, Professor of Physical Education
and recognized as a pioneer in physical rehabilitation, any review of Dr R Tait
McKenzie’s life will reveal an unbelievably busy man whose many works of art
and research, his honors and awards, his travels abroad and lectures, and
membership to over two dozen clubs and organizations, has me wondering when he
even found time for our Club.
McKenzie was born 26 May 1867, the third of four children
born to William McKenzie, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland in Almonte,
Ontario and Catherine Shiells. His parents were immigrants from Scotland.
William died when Robert was nine, so Robert worked his way through McGill
University on his own resources. It was at McGill that his interests formed in
physical education and art. With regards to physical education, he won the
All-round Gymnastic Championship, was Canadian Intercollegiate Champion in the
high jump, and also did well as a hurdler, boxer, swimmer, and as a fencer. His
childhood friend and fellow student at McGill, James Naismith, who shared
McKenzie’s love of sports, was the inventor of basketball. McKenzie became
Naismith’s assistant in teaching gymnastics and later replaced him when
Naismith moved on. McKenzie graduated McGill with a degree in medicine. At
McGill he came to understand the benefits of physical education to academic
He left the Department of Anatomy at McGill, and his
position as Medical Director of Physical Training, when funding proved
unavailable to create a special Department of Physical Education. McKenzie believed
physical education needed to be included as part of academics and he was
offered to put his ideas into practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s new
gymnasium and Franklin Field.
That very year he arrived in Philadelphia, having accepted
the position at the University of Pennsylvania as Director of Physical
Education, he would become a member of our Club, and he would be a member for
In the summer of 1907, McKenzie traveled to Europe aboard
the S.S. Marquette of the Red Star line. While at sea he met the musician,
poet, and fellow Canadian Ethel O’Neil, Director of Music at Science Hill
College in Shelbyville, Kentucky. She was on her way to Berlin to further her
studies. They fell in love and would marry the same year in Dublin. Violet Oakley’s
drawing of Mrs Ethel McKenzie portrays a beautiful woman, known to be as full
of vitality as was her husband. These happy newlyweds returned to Philadelphia
and became famous for their hospitality, their home a gathering place for those
interested in music and the arts. Mrs McKenzie published a collection of poems
concerning her husband’s work [Secret Snow, 1932, Roland Swain
McKenzie was a friend of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the
founder of Scouting, and McKenzie was one of the organizers of Philadelphia’s
first chapter of the Boy Scouts in 1908. He produced an 18-inch bronze
statuette of a scout and bestowed the original and copyright on the Boy Scouts
of America. In 1937 he returned to the subject, this time producing a
life-sized statue for the Boy Scouts, which can still be found in Philadelphia.
Also to be found on the University of Pennsylvania campus is
the statue of “Young Franklin”. The Class of 1904 chose McKenzie to
create this large figure. No one quite knew what Benjamin Franklin looked like
when he first entered the city at age seventeen. McKenzie received assistance
from the imagination of Howard Pyle, who provided sketches.
Another of his works on campus is of the Reverend George
Whitefield and at Princeton University, Dean West. He also did the WWI Memorial
at Cambridge, England; another for Edinburgh, Scotland; another for Canada. In
Washington DC is his Delano Memorial for American Red Cross Headquarters, a
tribute to the nurses who died in that war. And with so little space, I cannot
begin to list the many medals and sculptures his talent produced representing
various sports. But what could be more important than our own McKenzie medal?
In 1920, McKenzie designed the medal for our annual Small Oil Shows and it is
still the prize given today.
At the outbreak of the Great War, McKenzie went to England
where he attempted to join the Canadian Army. Frustrated by bureaucratic
delays, he entered the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant and then Major,
a Canadian volunteer in the British Army. Attached to the Physical Training
Headquarters Staff, he was required to take a course to train him for the
position. When it was discovered that he had written the textbooks on which the
course was based, they assigned him to become the inspector of the training
camps and hospitals. He was placed on the staff of Sir Alfred Keogh, Director
of Medical Service, and allowed to organize places for the rehabilitation of
It was at this time, 1915, that Major R Tait McKenzie
R.A.M.C. wrote the Club’s Treasurer asking if his dues could be remitted during
his enforced absence. As he described it, he was “at present hustling
about all over England and Scotland inspecting the training camps where they
are changing the raw recruits into the finished soldier, ready to be
In 1931, McKenzie expressed a desire to resign from the
University of Pennsylvania so he could devote more time to sculpt. The
University established him as the J. William White Research Professor of
Physical Education, a chair funded by McKenzie’s friend Dr White, professor of
surgery. The position provided the money and freedom to pursue sculpture. In
that same year he purchased and restored Baird’s Mill in his hometown of
Almonte. The gristmill was renamed the Mill of Kintail and became a summer home
and studio. It is now a conservation area, the Mill of Kintail a museum
containing the largest collection of McKenzie’s plaster sculptures, located on
160 acres of natural wooded settings with fitness trails.
On 28 April 1938, McKenzie had a heart attack and died in
his Philadelphia home. Ethel McKenzie outlived her husband by fourteen years,
dying in 1952.
That heart, per his instruction, is buried in Edinburgh. He
had wanted it buried at the base of his sculpture “Call”, the
Scottish-American war memorial which has a bareheaded soldier in kilt just
starting to rise from his seat, taking up the rifle that lies across his lap.
It was not permitted due to the laws of the city, so his heart is buried nearby
in the Old Burial Ground of St. Cuthbert’s Church.
It is difficult to write about Peter Moran without putting
him into the context of his remarkable family. The Morans were probably the
largest and most productive family of artists to bless our nation. Peter was
born in Bolton-le-Moor, Lancashire, England, March 4th, 1841, the
youngest of seven children born to Thomas Moran, Sr. and Mary Higson Moran.
There would eventually be twelve siblings in all. His father, a weaver by
trade, brought the family to Baltimore, Maryland in 1844, and then, a year
later, moved them to Philadelphia where he believed they could have a better
Peter apprenticed as a lithographer with the firm of Herline
and Hersel upon graduating from Harrison Grammar School in 1857. Lithography
did not suit him and he chose instead to become a pupil of his older brothers,
Edward (1829-1901) and Thomas (1837-1926). And
here we must take a side trip to mention that Edward, the oldest, initiated the
family’s interest in art and in his time became known as the greatest marine
painter in America. Edward was briefly a member of our Club and even served as
our Vice-President. [Edward’s two sons, John Leon Moran (1864-1941) and EdwardPercy
Moran (1862-1935) were also to have successful careers as artists.] Prior to teaching Peter how to paint, Edward taught
his brother Thomas, who is undoubtedly the most famous artist in the family,
and also a former member of our Club. Thomas’s specialty was landscapes. As for
Peter, the focus of his interest was animals. He went so far as to travel back
to England to study the work of Edwin Landseer.
Peter returned home to
Philadelphia becoming a successful etcher. Soon after his return, he began the
first of several trips into the American West, having a particular interest in
Native Americans. Later trips were often in the company of his brothers,
including one not yet mentioned, John Moran (1831-1903), a successful landscape
photographer, but never a member of our Club. And while they were off in the
West, Thomas’s wife and former student, Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899), stayed
home, too ill to accompany the brothers. Following her husband’s advice, she
took up etching. A native of Scotland, her family were neighbors to the Morans
in Philadelphia. She became the foremost etcher of East Coast scenery. Being a
woman, she could not have been a member of our Club.
I must briefly mention
another example of this extended family of artists, Peter’s sister, Elizabeth
Moran, who married Peter’s friend, the artist Steven James Ferris, had two
children, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris and May Electa Ferris Smith, both becoming
artists in turn. I mention this only to further demonstrate that the Morans had
a potent gene for producing artists.
From 1875 to 1896, Peter
taught art classes at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. He was a leading
proponent for Philadelphia’s artist community and complained about the peculiar
characteristic of the Philadelphian with regards of art; “He thinks that no
good thing can come out of Nazareth but his own blue blood. The result is, that
he and his will flock to New York to visit exhibitions of pictures and other
works of art, but will not go to Broad and Cherry Streets to enjoy possibly
Peter died in 1914. In 1932 the Club acquired the gift of a
bust of his image. Our historian, Happy Lomas, tells the tale: “Chairman Price
was also pleased to report the acquisition of a plaster bust of the late Peter
Moran, modeled by Beatrice Fenton – and presented by Mrs. Moran, who claimed
that her husband had been one of the original founders of the Club, but it is
recorded that Peter Moran joined in 1889, resigned in 1896, and had only a
passive interest in Club affairs.” Mrs. Moran must have been mistaking our Club
with the Philadelphia Society of Etchers. On May 14th, 1880, Peter
Moran, Stephen Parris, Joseph Pennell, Stephen J. Ferris, and Henry R. Poore
created the Philadelphia Society of Etchers. Peter was elected its president.
It must be said, Peter invested much more interest in the Philadelphia Society
of Etchers, serving for nearly their entire existence as their president. It
might also be that Mrs. Moran was confusing our Club for the Philadelphia Art
Club, which Peter joined in its first year, 1887, and in which he held various
official positions until his death.
Barbara has asked me why, of all the Morans to choose from,
did I select Peter. It is because I
have a special affection for etchings, a fondness for animals, and Peter was
the most neglected. He doesn’t deserve
to be forgotten.
George Spencer Morris
No one seems to know much about George Spencer Morris, yet
his name is at the center of every board meeting, elegantly carved into the
long table that occupies the library. He has left his mark. We all benefit from
his contribution to the Club. So who is he?
I sought the man in the Club’s files where I found a
yellowed newspaper clipping with his obituary. There is his photograph, an
evidently happy man with wavy hair, thick eyebrows, a mustache, and a fat
goatee. It reads, in part, “George Spencer Morris, since 1908 senior
member of the firm of Morris & Erskine, architects, died last night at his
home in Olney. . . . Mr. Morris was a member of the board of curators of the
Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and was interested especially in
the ornithological section. [George was one of the founding members, 1890, of
the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club.] . . . Mr. Morris was an amateur
artist and a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. He served many years as a
member of the board of managers of the Friends’ Hospital, Frankford, and of the
Christianburg Industrial Institute, Virginia. He leaves a widow and five
children.” With typical lack of foresight, our Club’s ancient archivist,
whoever that happened to have been, forgot to incorporate the name and date of
the newspaper from which they clipped the column.
Also to be found in his file is a letter he wrote the Club’s
Treasurer in 1903: “My dear Mr. Hering – Enclosed please find my check for
fifty dollars which I am willing to lend to the Sketch Club for one year at 6%
interest as proposed in your letter of the 24th . . . let me know and perhaps I
could let you have a little more – not merely for the love I bear the Sketch
Club – but because I look on it as a good investment.”
Whereas the file is lacking in information, the History
Lomas wrote of the Club paints a picture of a very involved member:
“besides [George’s] other duties he acted as treasurer of the Grub Club,
collecting fees, paying bills, and exercising a general supervision to the
satisfaction of the mid-day diners. He was ideal for the job and had a
personality that endeared him to his fellows.” The History even quotes
from George writing about the Grub Club members: “The true Grub Clubber
must be able to take a knock good-naturedly, and return it inoffensively. The
organization is truly democratic. Wealth counts for nothing and poverty is no
disgrace. Genius and talent are respected and admired, but no particular
reverence is paid to those of our members who may possess such gifts.”
George was born in Philadelphia 11th July 1867. He studied
architecture and drawing at Drexel Institute and that wellspring for Club
members, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He died in Philadelphia on the
12th April 1922. As a Club member he had been responsible for many exhibitions,
was Vice President from 1907 to 1910 and again from 1913 to 1921. He sat on the
Board from 1902 to 1906 and again from 1910 to 1912.
George was married to Lydia Ellicott, one of the founders of
the Charlotte Cushman Club. That club, which provided safe and inexpensive
lodgings for actresses appearing on Philadelphia stages, was until recently the
Sketch Club’s next door neighbor.
Our Club has a ghost. The apparition’s trim, white mustache
floats through our clubhouse rooms to oversee all things Club related. In life
this ghost was the Club’s distinguished member, John Nemeth.
I cannot remember meeting Mr Nemeth, although I probably
did. He died suddenly on the 17th March 1999 a mere sixty-nine years
old. It was about that same time I was first becoming a member. He had joined
the Club the year that I was born, 1951. Most members will remember John and
attest to the delight of his company and his contribution to our Club’s
welfare. His many friends will tell more colorful stories than we can hope to
fit into this small space. So strong is this well-loved specter that Bob Grooms
or Dick Cohen will first sigh and then gush praise and memories.
John took turns at being the Portfolio’s Editor, the
Club’s Vice President and President, Juried Print Chair, Membership Chair,
Publicity Chair, Presentation Chairman of the 135th Anniversary
Pennell Medal (given to Edmund Bacon, City Planner), and was at his death the
Archives Chairman. But probably most important of all, John Nemeth was the
Chief Chemist, keeper of the Fish House Punch formula.
For nearly twenty years John was absent from the Club.
Photographer, serigrapher, and a maker of 16mm documentary films, he left the
Club in 1963, his career taking him to distant California, but he and the Club
were happily reunited in 1982. For the remainder of his life this Club was his
family and the focus of his life.
During my recent visit with the Grub Club, I sat across the
George Spencer Morris table from Bill Campbell. He spoke of John wanting to
have his ashes placed in the hollow column that held the birdbath in the Club’s
garden, because the garden, in former years, was filled with the hubbub of Club
gossip and discussions. However, shortly before his death, John was sitting at
that very same George Spencer Morris table and, while looking out the glass
doors into a deserted garden during a chilling rain, it entered his mind that
the location might not be ideal. It was his final wish that his ashes be placed
in the Chinese urn, a recent gift from Doc Zimmerman, that sits atop a bookcase
in the Club’s library; it is this that our newest members ought to know. From
there he watches over his beloved Sketch Club and its members, listening to the
gossip and the board meeting debates.
So, if you happen to bump into John’s ghost during a visit
to the Club, there is no reason to be alarmed. This phantasm is a welcomed
spirit and many members are grateful that he has not yet left. It is to be
hoped he will remain to protect the Club into the next century, pricking those
members who stray from the Club’s purpose, or mess with the formula of the Fish
House Punch, while doing far worse to those who attempt to make off with a book
from the library or an etching from the wall.
Do we get to claim Thornton Oakley as our own? He passed
through our portals and lingered only a bit, 1907-1908. But he is an important
figure in the art world of Philadelphia and the Nation that would have added
further to the Club’s already glorious roster.
His talent was sufficient that the Art Institute of Chicago,
the Curtis Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all invited him to
lecture; that he served on the jury of selection and advisory committee for
both the Department of Fine Arts at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
in 1915 and the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition in 1926; that his
works are in the British Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Historical Society of
Pennsylvania, Library of Congress, Musees Nationaux Paris, National Gallery of
Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the
Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Born the 27th March 1881 in Pittsburgh, he came to
Philadelphia to study architecture, graduating from the University of
Pennsylvania with B.S. and M.S. degrees in architecture. No sooner did he
graduate, 1902, than he traveled the short distance to Chadds Ford in order to
study under Howard Pyle, who he came to idolize. Oakley writes of beginning his
tutelage, “My attempts were terrifying to behold, and when H.P. came to me
to criticize my work he paused for a long, long time before speaking, and I
know that he must have been appalled.” Of his teacher he wrote, “We
never heard one word from our beloved teacher concerning tools and methods. His
utterances were only of the spirit, thought, philosophy, ideals, vision,
purpose.” He studied with Pyle for three years before becoming himself a
renowned illustrator, providing work for Century Magazine, Collier’s Weekly,
Harper’s, and Scribner’s Monthly. His devotion to the memory and achievement of
Howard Pyle resulted in compiling collections of the drawings, prints,
sketchbooks, and letters of Howard Pyle to be deposited in the Free Library of
Philadelphia and the University of Delaware Library.
He married Amy Ewing in 1910 and they had one child.
Together Amy and Thornton published a number of travel books which she wrote
and he illustrated: Behold the West Indies, Cloud-Lands of
France, Enchanted Brittany, Hill-Towns of the
Pyrenees, The Heart of Provence, Kaleidoscopic
Quebec, Scandinavia Beckons, nor should we overlook Our
From 1914 to 1919 and from 1921 to 1936, Oakley headed the
Department of Illustration, replacing Walter Everett, at the Philadelphia
Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of Art. In 1939 he completed
six murals for the Franklin Institute. In his book, The Brandywine
Tradition by fellow Club member Henry C. Pitz, who was also a student
of Oakley, “He was a personality and had his share of magnetism, but he
had none of Pyle’s gift for friendly and fatherly concern and never came close
to his students.” From the same book comes this description, “Oakley
was large, tall, high-colored, with extraordinary beetling brows and quite
unaware that his friendly frown was alarming.”
We also learn from Henry C. Pitz that, “Thornton Oakley
never learned the nuances of color but had an ingrained predilection for the
primaries, red, yellow and blue.” Thornton himself remarked, “When H.P. stood
before my easel, he was silent for many a minute. At length he spoke. ‘Oakley,’
he said, choosing his words with care, ‘either you are color-blind, or else you
are a genius.'” Pitz goes on to write, “As time and practice revealed to
Pyle, neither guess was wholly correct. Thornton Oakley never learned the
nuances of color but had an ingrained predilection for the primaries, red,
yellow and blue.”
Industry was a reoccurring theme in Oakley’s work. When he
lived in Pittsburgh, he was already drawing pictures of industry while his
mother was campaigning against the nuisance of industry’s belching. During the
Great War, Oakley produced patriotic lithographs of the Hog Island Shipyard.
During the Second World War, National Geographic published forty-eight
paintings by Oakley of industry geared up for war. After the war he continued
to paint industrial subjects for the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Philadelphia
Electric Company, and the Sun Oil Company.
Thornton Oakley died in Bryn Mawr on 4th April
1953. As to Oakley’s brief membership in our Club, Sidney Lomas writes in
Seventy-Five Years of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, “Thornton Oakley,
illustrator and teacher entered in June. Why he did so must ever remain a
mystery. He was unsuited temperamentally to mix with the forceful personalities
who foregathered at the Club. No doubt he must have overestimated the
reverential attributes of the membership, for he resigned within a short time.”
And yet I regret he didn’t stick it out.
Once again my work is made easy because Willard G. Myers (or
Meyers?), who was the Club’s Secretary from 1945 to 1949, and eventually the
Club’s President in 1950, was kind enough to write the following biography of
Adam Pietz in 1962, shortly after Adam’s death. I provide his piece in its
<< One of the most remarkable geniuses among those who
have belonged to the Sketch Club was Adam Pietz, who died early in December of
last year. Adam was a sculptor, a medalist, an engraver, and an etcher. He was
born July 19, 1873, in Offenbach, Germany. He studied art in Germany and, after
coming to America as a youth, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the
Fine Arts and at the Art Institute of Chicago. He joined the Philadelphia Sketch
Club in 1900, and was a member continuously until his death, December 6, 1961.
<< He joined the Sketch Club when the club rooms were on the top floor at
Eleventh and Walnut Streets, and there is still around the Club an old steel
letterhead die, with the Club seal and the words “11th and Walnut, Phila.,
Pa.” on a ribbon, which Adam engraved shortly after he joined. He designed
and cast many medals and plaques for the Club, as the Club history testifies;
for the monthly painting contests, for the Annual Outing competitions, etc. In
recent years he engraved and presented the dies for the Distinguished Service
Award, in 1948, first presented to Nicola D’Ascenzo, and since then to six
others. In 1960, a labor of love in his 87th year, he designed and executed the
Sketch Club’s Hundredth Anniversary Medal.
<< The bronze plaque of Thomas Anshutz in the Library was modeled from
life, as was the bas-relief of Joseph Pennell, now over the mantelpiece in the
Library. The latter, which Adam presented to the Club at our Hundredth
Anniversary Dinner on November 21, 1960, was exhibited at the Paris Salon of
1921, and was always considered by Pennell as his best portrait.
<< Adam Pietz was a prodigious worker and made busts, plaques and
bas-reliefs of many of the important personages of the city and nation.
Examples are to be found in the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania
Academy, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well
as in the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Academy of Music, the
Philadelphia Institute for Medical Research, and many other societies and
<< In 1927, he was made Assistant Engraver at the United States Mint in
Philadelphia, a position he held for nearly 20 years. During that time he
engraved dies for many U. S. coins and medals, including the Iowa Centennial
commemorative half-dollar, commemorative coins for France and Belgium, the
first 5¢ airmail die for stamped envelopes, coinage for the first Republic of
China, and many others. He designed a special gold medal awarded by Congress
for the first flight over the North Pole. Portrait plaques of Mauritz Leefson
and August Heinze are in the Academy of Music and a striking medal of Stephen
Decatur is in the U. S. Navy Yard at Philadelphia.
<< There was a warm friendliness and comradeship in Adam Pietz, despite
the reports of quarrels of historic proportions that seem to have occurred in
his younger days.* But he loved the Sketch Club, and of late years seemed
happiest under its sheltering roof. Those of use who knew them best think of
him fondly as the smiling, genial German who was so much a part of the Club he
loved for over 60 years. His work will live after him, for truly “the bust
outlasts the throne, the coin, Tiberius.” >>
* With regards to quarrels of historical proportions, I refer the reader to the
Club’s September 1909 mock trial of John Williams versus Adam Pietz. It would
appear that these two bet each other $5.00 who could drink the most and stay
sober back in April in that year, and Mr Pietz, who had a reputation for being
a bit miserly, might have welched on his bet.
To be sure, despite his trial, it is obvious that Adam was
much devoted to the Club and was an active participant. In 1909 he was one of
the chief actors in William Wood’s production of an “Irish Wake” at
the Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Party. He made a gift of a dozen Baedeckers to our
library in 1917. The decorated bulletin board over the steps leading to the
rathskeller was another gift in 1925.
It is to be noted that the Philadelphia Sketch Club has
always had organized subcultures that coexisted within it. Such a group was
“The Hairy Apes” to which admission was difficult. “No member
can be proposed unless he possesses an unusually high order of intelligence, a
calm well-balanced, impartial judgment and No Hair.” Adam was a member. I
wonder if I would have been considered a viable candidate.
Henry C. Pitz
Portraits of members painted by Fred Wagner were once
arranged as a frieze along three walls of the billiard room and there Henry C.
Pitz formerly hung.
In his own words: “For a good many years I have spent part
of my time teaching illustration at my old school, the Philadelphia Museum
School of Art. I am proud that a great many of the younger book illustrators
have been in my classes. In my spare time I have enjoyed writing articles and
books about illustration and picture-making in general. In between there has
been a little time for painting in water color and oil and for etching and
lithography.” Henry Clarence Pitz was a master illustrator (over 160 books, a
recipient of more than 40 awards) famed for his historical accuracy and writer
of a number of instructional books about illustrating and illustrators. Many
are still in print. It was in 1934 that he became head of the Department of
Pictorial Expression at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, a position he then held
for twenty-eight years and then to become professor emeritus.
Henry C. Pitz was born the 16th June 1895, a
first-generation American, the only child of Anna Rosina nee Steiffel and Henry
William Pitz, a bookbinder from Munich who came to Philadelphia in 1880 to continue
his profession here. The young Henry loved reading and drawing pictures. In
high school he had established a keen interest in both history and art, but it
was a scholarship in 1914 to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art that decided
him, and by 1917 he was a member of our Club. The next year he was off to the
Great War, serving as a Lieutenant with the American Expeditionary Forces in
France. He found time to sketch the soldiers. Some of those sketches were
placed on display at the Club in May of 1919.
Henry was perhaps the Club’s finest chess player. In a 1923 tournament he played a series
of three games with fourteen other entrants. The contest took three months and
Henry won the most games, for which he was presented by Dr Zimmerman with a
prize of Staunton chessmen. But not all was success for Henry C. Pitz. On “a
perfect summer day – warm but eased by an exhilarating breeze,” as Happy Lomas
reports in his Club history, the team Henry play on, the Bolsheviks, lost a
game of baseball to the Mossbacks at the Club’s 1927 outing. Still, it was
close, with the Bolsheviks scoring 22 runs, but the Mossbacks scoring 23.
In 1935 Henry married Molly Wheeler Wood, a fellow artist.
It was the same year he became President of our Club. He was also, in his long
career, director of the American Water Color Society, director of the
Philadelphia Art Alliance, and director of the Philadelphia Water Color Club;
he was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Newcomen Society, the
Audubon Artists, the Franklin Inn Club down the block, and the Salmagundi Club
in New York. Still, despite a prolific career and busy social life, Henry found
time to have two children with Molly, a boy and girl.
Henry died at home in Philadelphia the 26th November 1976. In this city he lived his entire life. Being that that is less
than thirty years ago, there must be members among us who remember him. And
Molly, do we know how she’s doing?
> name = Nick Pitz
> comments = To Whom It May Concern –
> While browsing through your site, I came across
> the April 2005 newsletter that contained a biography
> of my grandfather, Henry C. Pitz. The author (Bruce
> Bentzman) and editor both asked the question of what
> had happened to my grandmother, Molly. I am sorry to
> report that she passed away in September of 2002. I
> know that she would have been quite pleased to know
> that my grandfather was still remembered at the
> Sketch Club. My aunt, Julia Pitz Barringer, who
> herself inherited a good portion of both Henry and
> Molly’s talent, is still very much alive, as are my
> brother William and I. We make up the remaining
> family of Henry and Molly. We would of course be
> pleased to assist the Sketch Club in any way. Please
> feel free to contact me at any time.
> Nicholas W. Pitz
Edward W. Redfield
Up the narrow stairs I go, and you should, too, but then
many of you already have, and you will find the painting “Horse and Sleigh
Days” by Edward W. Redfield. It is
on the wall behind the piano. The
painting is on loan from the Delaware Art Museum and is part of our present
exhibition, “Thomas Eakins and His Fellow Artists at the Philadelphia
Sketch Club. Although Edward studied at
the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1885), where he developed a lifelong
friendship with Robert Henri, there is no evidence that he studied under
Eakins. His teachers at the Academy
were Club members Thomas Anshutz and James Philip Kelley. It is fortunate that our Club can lay claim
to Edward, however tentative that connection might be.
Edward’s medals are impressive; Exposition Universelle
Internationale Bronze Medal (1900), Pan-American Exposition Bronze Medal
(1901), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Temple Gold Medal (1903), United
States of America Universal Louisiana Purchase Exposition Silver Medal (1904),
The Society of American Artists Webb Prize (1906), Pennsylvania Academy of the
Fine Arts Gold Medal of Honor (1907), Corcoran Gallery of Art Gold Medal
(1908), Exposition International de Orte Gold Medal (1910), and it just goes on
and on. In 1915, Edward was honored
with an entire room devoted to his canvases at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in
San Francisco, an honor that he share with the likes of William Merritt Chase,
James Abbott McNeill, and John Singer Sargent.
Edward was born in Bridgeville, Delaware, 18th December 1869. In 1889, Edward made his
way to France on a $50 stipend from his father where he studied at the Academie
Julian under Tony Robert-Fleury and William Adolphe Bouguereau. He made three trips to abroad during the
next four years, eventually coming home with a bride, Elise Devin Deligant, the
daughter of the innkeeper at the Hotel Deligant where Edward was given to
sojourn. But what is most important to
me is that Edward eventually found his way to my county, Bucks County. “Bucks County was a place where an
independent self-sufficient man could make a living from the land, bring up a
family and still have the freedom to paint as he saw fit,” Edward wrote in
1898. Here he made his home at Center
Bridge, the first artist to take residence in the vicinity of New Hope. Eventually, with the arrival of William
Langson Lathrop, Edward found himself in association with a growing community
of artists who would be labeled the American Impressionist, or probably more
accurately, the Pennsylvania Impressionist. And for this one should visit the James A. Michener Museum in the county
seat of Bucks County, Doylestown, for the The Lenfest Exhibition Of
The first painting that greets you upon entering the Lenfest
Exhibition is Edward’s “The Trout Brook”. The gallery also has Edward’s most famous painting, “The
Burning of Center Bridge”. On 22nd July 1923, the family was returning home from visiting an artist friend when
they saw the fire and first worried that it was their home, but it was the
bridge across the Delaware. Edward,
standing alongside Lathrop, found himself watching with wonder as the bridge
burned. As Edward told a reporter,
“Lathrop said it was a pity it couldn’t be painted. So I took out an envelope and made some
notes and painted all the next day. The
following day, I painted it again.”
Edward was a prodigious painter. In his own words, “I trained myself to set down what I saw
in one day, sometimes eight hours or more. I never painted over a canvas again. I think it ruins them. Either
you’ve got it the first time or you haven’t.” But in 1947 Elise died. Edward came to reevaluate his work. He went through his paintings and those that struck him as imperfect he
burned in a bonfire. He burned hundreds
During the last years of his life, Edward abandoned
paintings and took up rug weaving, cabinetmaking, and other crafts. In 1965 he died at Center Bridge.
A handsome, robust man, he is probably most famous for his
winter scenes of beautiful Bucks County. His devotion to painting out-of-doors found him knee deep in snow with
his canvas latched to a tree during a storm. He’d come home with the lunch his wife packed for him untouched.
There is next to nothing in our Club’s archive regarding
Edward, but then Edward did not like to socialize with large groups of
people. He joined most art
organizations out of a sense of professionalism, but otherwise did not care to
be an active participant. He was a
member of our own club from 1903 to 1905. We do, however, possess a letter in our files that Edward wrote:
<< Dear Fromuth,
Your letter of Oct 3, was received by me, upon my return
from Maine this last Friday – I would have answered immediately had it been
forwarded to me, but the result would have been the same – I can’t and won’t
talk, it’s sort of a religion with me to let the work speak for itself and I
suppose that is why I’m so much opposed to the so called “new art” it
always has to be explained – I believe in every painter doing what he can for
the movement – just to paint as good as he knows how and after that to work for
the cause – and if he should be fortunate enough to be successful – to
carefully – note the size of his own hat band and see to it that it either
stays the same when he orders a new hat or shrinks. As far as I go – I have
painted from nature long enough to know that there are vast undiscovered fields
not even scratched and when I tackle them often with high courage – I am as
promptly pushed back in my small place – but at least I should get credit for
trying and I believe that is generally accorded me! Some day I’ll drop in for lunch – I’m one of the gang always so
no pedestal stuff for me.
E. W. Redfield
Nov 15, 26. >>
Norman Guthrie Rudolph
Norman Guthrie Rudolph was at the Sketch Club Outing of
1924. He was probably riding in the
motorbus that the Club decked out with a long pennant proclaiming the Club’s
1923 baseball victory over the School of Industrial Art (26 to 20). We trounced them again in ’24 with a score
of 13 to 6. That day in Elkins Park
there were also games of quoits, tennis, tug-a-war, and such, and a contest for
the best sketch. John J. Dull received
the silver medal, but Norm collected the bronze. Norm was accustomed to winning prizes, had regularly won prizes
since the time he was four and won the John Wanamaker Prize for Art in his age
group – as close as you come to being born an artist. He was born in Darby, Pennsylvania 10th November 1900 to George
Cooper Rudolph and Adele Guthrie.
Norm won scholarships to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine
Arts, the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, and the Grand Central
Art School in New York. He was a
student of John Dull, Daniel Garber, Thorton Oakley, and Fred Wagner. After completing school, he began his
successful fifty-year career as an illustrator of books, magazines, and
advertisements for A.D. Fleming, the Associated Artists of Philadelphia, The
Press of A. Colish, Colliers Magazine, Doubleday, the Franklin
Printing Company, Githens-Sohl, Liberty Magazine, the Macmillan
Publishing Company, National Lead and Cities Service, Random House, and the
Richard Foley Advertising Agency. He
held memberships in the American Watercolor Society, the Artists Fellowship,
the New York Artists Guild, the Salmagundi Club, the Society of Illustrators,
and most importantly the Philadelphia Sketch Club from 1922 to 1973.
There were frequent visits to New York to assist his
brother, George Cooper Rudolph, Jr. (1912-1997), a successful architect and
fine artist of architectural drawings, but because he had difficulty drawing
people, his older brother would draw them in. George’s sketch of the Provost’s House appears on the University of
Pennsylvania Bicentennial Wedgwood cup. And now there is a George Cooper Rudolph III, also an architect. But our subject is Norm.
Norm made trips to Europe from which he returned with a
wealth of sketches that were exhibited at the Club. Early on he toured Europe on bicycle with fellow Club member John
R. Pierce, and later he was to travel through fifteen countries in 7 ½
months. He traveled this continent as
well, having his watercolors freeze to the paper in Quebec and racing against
evaporation in the desert of Arizona.
I had the good fortune to speak to Norm’s son by his first
wife, Jean Kathleen (Kaye) Vercoe, a portrait artist to whom Norm was married
from 1928 to 1946. (Norm would marry
again in 1955 to the former Grace Stauffer Martin.) Donald Guthrie Rudolph, who lives in Kernersville, North
Carolina, shared some of his memories with me.
Don Rudolph spoke of visits to his father’s studio in
Philadelphia. After Norm had lived
eighteen years in New York, he returned to the Philadelphia area in 1947 and
kept a studio in the city, at the Ludlow Building that used to be located on
16th Street between Market and Chestnut. Don recalled riding the wrought iron and brass elevator up the opened
shaft of the stairwell to the top floor, the fourth floor. The studio was stuffed with filing cabinets,
flat files, stacks of books and magazines, and an overstuffed couch. There was very little room where Norm could
work. He drew and painted at a drawing
table by a window that looked out on 16th Street and from which one could see
City Hall. On hot days, Norm would have
that window opened, would also open the door of his studio and run a large
round fan for cross ventilation while he sat there working in his underwear.
Don also remembers from his adolescence finding his father’s
portfolio of edfying studies from the Sketch Club’s Life Classes. And then there was the music wafting up from
the room on the floor below. It was the
office of Marcel Tabuteau (1887-1966), the famed principal oboist of the Philadelphia
Orchestra from 1915 to 1954.
Norm was well loved by the Club and what must not be
forgotten was his willingness to contribute to the Club’s social life. This blue-eyed charmer danced at the Club’s
terpsichorean events and also helped to decorate sets for parties and
affairs. He was versifier and singer,
and he was a welcomed raconteur, partial to the risqué story among the male
camaraderie. In later years, he
excelled in bringing talented men to lecture at the Club.
In December of 1985, Norm died and was buried at the
Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. We can still see his work, not merely in the many books for which
he was the illustrator, but at a website dedicated to him, created by Christy
McNeil, his proud granddaughter. I
invite readers who have access to the internet to visit http://www.normanguthrierudolph.com/.
H. Lyman Saÿen
H. Lyman Saÿen is one of Philadelphia’s own. The “H” stood for Henry, but I haven’t found
a case in which he used the name. The
thing we must not forget is the dieresis over his name, because he would not
have you forget it.
Born in 1875, Saÿen demonstrated an interest in scientific
research while still in high school. At
eighteen, while he was working for Queen and Company, makers of scientific
equipment, he was cited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago for his design
of an induction coil. Before the
twentieth century he would hold the patent for a self-regulating X-ray tube and
would lecture at the Franklin Institute, where he was awarded the John Scott
Medal on behalf of the City of Philadelphia. Having enlisted during the Spanish-American War, he built the first
military X-ray laboratory in Fort McPherson, Georgia. All of this he accomplished before he ventured into a successful
career as an artist.
In 1899 Saÿen enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the
Fine Arts where he entered under the tutelage of our own Thomas Anshutz. Even as he continued with his scientific
research, making advances, winning the silver medal at the Pan American
Exposition in Buffalo, what interests us more is Saÿen the artist. Having developed a friendship with Anshutz,
Saÿen exhibited his work here at the Club in 1902 and became a member in the
same year. In 1903 he married fellow
Academy student Jeannette Hope, who was at that time doing fashion design for
While Saÿen style was in the tradition of Eakins and
Anshutz, and won for him a national competition to paint four lunettes for the
United States Capitol, this would eventually change. The work brought him to the attention of Rodman Wanamaker, who
hired him and sent him and his wife to Paris to supervisor the printing of
catalogues and posters, while reporting on the latest French fashions. And it was in France that Saÿen was
introduced by Leo Stein, and his more famous sister Gertrude, to Matisse.
Saÿen studied under Matisse. His style changed radically to resemble Matisse more than Eakins
and Anshutz. His studies ended with the
coming of the First World War. The
Saÿens managed to catch the last boat to leave France in 1914.
His new style was not appreciated in America. Although he continued to show and lecture at
the Club, his works were no longer well-received by the public. In 1917 he created the scenery and special
effects, a modern design, for the artist masque performed at the Academy of Music. The masque was entitled Saeculum,
written by William Albrecht Young. Sadly, the spectacle was a flop.
It is a tremendous pity that Saÿen should have died in 1918
so short of success, for he demonstrated great promise in both science and
art. In April of that year, after
complaining about feeling ill, he fainted and never recovered consciousness, his
death was soon overshadowed by the overwhelming number of deaths that soon
followed in the Spanish Influenza of 1918. But his death was not overlooked by those who loved him at the
Club. Morris Hall Pancoast wrote a
eulogy, which read in part: “To me he was one of the most brilliant, sincere
and lovable men the Sketch Club ever enjoyed. He epitomized all that is best in
the Club. No one was ever more willing to get into an argument, and few came
out of one so surely with the favorable decision. In talking about your kind of
art he had all the characteristic Sketch Club frankness, but his caustic and
witty criticism never left a sting. The Sketch Club table where Saÿen sat was
In 1920, Mrs. Lyman Saÿen gave the Club one of her husband’s
In his book, A
Century After: Picturesque Glimpses of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania,
(1875) Edward Strahan makes a humble reference to our Club, referring to it as,
“a modest but influential association of artists….” Mr. Strahan had shown
restraint considering that the book’s illustrations are engravings by J.W.
Lauderbach, based on designs by such artists as E.B. Bensell, F.O.C. Darley,
James Hamilton, Thomas Moran, and F.B. Schell, all of them members of our Club.
Indeed, Edward Strahan is a pseudonym for Earl Shinn (1837-1886), one of the
founding members of our Club where he was much appreciated as a singer of comic
songs. He is one of sixteen names that signed the Club’s constitution in 1861
and served as the Club’s secretary from September 1862 until March 1863.
In 1864, Earl traveled to Paris to join the atelier of
Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was a time when the École
des Beaux-Arts would not accept Americans. That Earl was able to gain
access to the renowned school, was
by the manipulations of his good friend Thomas Eakins. Together they had been
students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Eakins convinced Count
de Nieuwerkerke to admit Earl, Frederick Bridgman, and Howard Roberts as
students. In later years, Earl would return the favor. When Eakins’ painting of
“Max Schmidtt in a Single Scull” did not receive the appreciation it deserved,
Shinn, now an established art critic, introduced his national readership to
Eakins talent. He wrote in The Nation, for which he was chief
art writer and dramatic critic, “We
learn that Eakins is a realist, an anatomist, and a mathematician, that his
perspective, even of waves and ripples, is practiced according to strict science.”
Earl also wrote for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin under the
names Enfant Perdu or Rash Steps, and in Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular
Literature and Science using the previously mention name of Strahan.
His essays were a major influence. It had been Earl who coined the name Hudson
River School for that famous group of landscape artists. He was the Giorgio
Vasari for his generation of American artists.
But back in
1866, Earl was still abroad, joining a group of fellow Americans who sojourned
and painted in Pont-Aven, where they became known as the Seven Original
Fishermen of a growing bohemian colony of artists. (Among them was Robert
Wylie, another co-founder of our Club, who remained a member for just a year
and would stay in France until his death.) The fellow artist Benjamin Champney,
also at Pont-Aven, wrote that Earl “had not at that time made a serious
study of art, and his time was a good deal taken up with letters to a
Philadelphia paper..” It is this fondness for writing that gave me an affinity
for Earl and why I have chosen to write about him. Champney goes on to write,
“Shinn was of a most genial disposition, affable and kindly. After studying for
a time with Gerome, he returned to America to become an art critic. He was
attached to The Nation in that capacity until his death a few
years ago. As a writer and art critic he was well-equipped, and wielded a
trenchant pen, and many an artist had cause to feel the keenness of his
criticisms. I could only wonder that so amiable and kind-hearted a man could
even in the interest of art say such caustic things. I loved him much, and can
bear testimony to the gentleness and purity of his character.”
I will leave it to our own Happy Lomas to make the final
remarks as they appear in our Club’s history. “News reached the members of the
death in New York City, on November 3rd  of Mr. Earl Shinn,
one of the early, faithful members of the Club. Mr. Wm. J. Clark delivered a
brief eulogy on Mr. Shinn. Among other things he said, ‘That he considered Mr.
Shinn the most important writer upon art that this country had ever produced.'”
By the late nineteenth century, photography had begun to
lose its novelty. At a time when
Impressionism in painting was on the rise, the photograph was regarded as too
detailed and too accurate. The desire
was to produce a more “artistic” image, images that were less outrageously
sharp. This was achieved in many ways,
such as photographing subjects slightly out of focus, special filters or lense
coatings, extensive manipulation of the image in the darkroom, and even
printing the work on rough paper to emulate etchings. Pictorialism was the endeavor to bring atmosphere to the subject
of photographs, to impose mood or emotion into the composition. Our own Henry Troth was a master of this and
world renowned for his craft.
Among his thirty medals were the International Society of
Amateur Photography (Berlin 1896), Association de Beige Photographic (1896),
Wien Photo Club (1898), the Photography Society of India Medal (1901) and the
Photo Club de Paris Salon (1903). He
served as one of the judges of the Chicago Photographic Salon of 1901. He was also one the founders of
Philadelphia’s Photographic Salon. Both
Alfred Stieglitz and F. Holland Day were admirers who had exhibited his work.
With flower studies and landscapes, Henry’s ability to
capture the essence of his subject, even while making it beautiful, made him
the photographer of choice for volumes of poetry and essays on nature. “He [Troth] thus combines the veritistic and
the impressionistic in his work, and is universally acceptable,” wrote Louis
Albert Lamb. The Academy of Natural
Sciences used his work for their botanical studies. In later years, Henry produced photographs of architecture and
outdoor scenes for popular magazines. His photographs served as the covers for Country Life and Garden
Magazine. Mr. Lamb also wrote,
“he has the manipulative part of his art developed to a degree of perfection
which admits of no superior.”
Beyond the walls of our clubhouse there was very little
information to be found about the private life of Henry. Nevertheless, I suspect a wealth of
information probably exists in the living memories and private letters of his
cousins, nephews, nieces, and friends. The Troth family, who were Quakers, were major figures in Philadelphia’s
history. His grandfather, another Henry
(1794-1842) was a famous wholesale druggist and one of the most active founders
of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. [The Historical Society of
Pennsylvania has grandpa Troth’s diary from 1813-1815, which reveals his
literary interests, recording books read and meetings of the Philadelphia
Literary Association.] Our Henry was
born to Samuel and Anna Troth in 1863. He never married.
In a 1940 letter to Happy Lomas he wrote, “My past life did
not give me very good chances to build up for my old age. During all of my life I had to do things I
did not want to do, and which I should have had to. Responsibilities not of my own creating. Because of those things my own ambitions had
to be put aside I could not see my way to marry and to have a home of my own
nor leave Philadelphia to locate in New York or other place a great distance
away, where I could have undoubtedly benefitted myself greatly.”
We also read in that letter, “I wanted to be an engineer
instead of a photographer. I think I
might have made a very good engineer instead of a bum photographer. Photographers are somewhat looked down by
the average Sketch Club member.”
Inside the walls of our clubhouse we find a lot of
Henry. He joined the Club in 1903 and
was among those who worked diligently at making our place on Camac Street into
a home for the members. He painted, he
installed electrical lighting, and he did carpentry. He not only worked to improve the interior of the rooms, he also
contributed books to our library, was still contributing books in 1935. In November of 1915, when the three Sketch
Club buildings were turned into one, Henry, who had been the acting House
Committee Chairman, saw to it that the Club had an ideal Steward. In his capacity as photographer, he
documented Club outings. Somewhere we
might yet find photographs of the 1912 Club outing at a farmhouse on the
Neshaminy Creek on Doylestown Road. While other members played at quoits and tennis, Henry was photographing
We have Henry to thank for placing Anshutz’s portraits in
the library. With fellow member William
T. Thomson, the forty-four paintings were cleaned, revarnished, and arranged in
a frieze. And we have Henry to thank
for our pool table. He worked very hard
to have that table brought in despite vigorous protestations from other
members. That table served to earn
money for the Club as one had to pay to play originally. And when the table became worn, Henry saw to
it that it was restored. He noted that
many of those who objected to the Club having a pool table, nevertheless
availed themselves of it frequently.
The Great Depression hurt many Club members. When he could no longer afford to pay the
membership fees, Henry proffered his resignation. As Happy writes in the Club’s history, “Men with retentive
memories recalled the many instances in the old days when Henry’s broad
shoulders had carried the burden of running the house. Very often making
personal sacrifices for the Club’s welfare. The Board of Directors at the
November meeting finally decided to recognize this indebtedness to Mr. Troth by
the presentation to him of a Life Membership.” The irony is Henry never liked Life Memberships because they hurt the
Club’s treasury. He had worked hard to
have the rules of Life Membership modified to make it harder to obtain.
In 1939, Henry sent the Club a check for fifty dollars to go
towards his Life Membership. He had
sold his summer home in Rose Valley, a community based on the principles of the
Arts and Crafts movement. He had lived
there with his sister, Emma, an artist and illustrator.
It needs to be said that Henry Troth has been all too forgotten
by the world and deserves a better remembrance. A robust person who twice traveled around the world, in old age
he suffered a long illness and rheumatism. I have seen it in his handwriting, in the progressive degeneration of
his signature. And I believe part of
the reason he is forgotten is that he died the 25th April 1945 while
the Second World War was still raging, was in its last throes in Europe. So long out of the public’s eye, his death
went unnoticed among the many young Philadelphia men dying in battle. Death notices filled the pages of our local
However forgotten he might be, his art lives on. The works of Henry Troth are in the
collections of the Library of Congress and the George Eastman House. His photographs still come up at auction. I have had the great delight of viewing some
of these images in the Club’s archives. They are accompanied by a small note from his sister dated 21st May 1945. “To the Members of the
Philadelphia Sketch Club. Henry was
desirous that I send this in appreciation of his happy years in the Club. There
was nothing in his life, I believe, which gave him as much pleasure as its
congenial associations. I thank very
gratefully all who wrote to him and visited him in the hospitals – Very
sincerely, Emma Troth”.
In the entrance hall of our clubhouse are arranged portraits
of members by William T. Thomson – and to quote Lomas, “beginning with the
benignant countenance of Henry Troth.”
A man of strong habits and devoted to the Club was Fredrick
R. Wagner, known in the Club as Wag. The morning he was married in 1912 to a
model named Eva, he kissed his new bride and said, “Well, bye-bye, I’ll be
seeing you this afternoon.” and off he went to the Grub Club determined not to
miss a meal.
In the evening he would lean back in his favorite seat in
the library and, by 1924, the back legs of his chair had worn two holes through
the linoleum that formerly covered the floor, had scored the library table with
his heels, and had discolored the wall behind his chair where his head came to
Born 20th December 1860  in Valley Forge, he came to
Philadelphia to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on a
scholarship. He studied under Thomas Eakins, began teaching there in 1878, and
became Chief Demonstrator of Anatomy in 1884. Two years later he was traveling
the breadth of the country painting landscapes and portraits, but by 1897 he
was back in Philadelphia and joining our Club.
Member William S. Wood, in 1908, who was in the practice of
posting on the bulletin board satirical verse about other members, wrote about
Wagner in his series Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Living Hoo-Hoos:
“Wagner, Fred, A gent who aspires to be a fisherman, but so far has only
succeeded in mixing paints and acting as a decoy duck at the P. S. C. chess
board. His main business consists in answering ‘phone calls and doing general
janitor work. Is an expert on collecting debris of all eatable kinds and of
assimilating same in shortest space of time. When not engaged in these
soul-stirring pursuits he consents to swat in a few canvasses. He can turn out
latent wealth with a brush quicker than the U. S. Mint can pass out the long
green. Some day, when there is a market for the same, he will be a wealthy
Although labeled a Pennsylvania Impressionist, at least one
Club member prefers to regard Wag an Urban Realist, similar to the painters of
the Ashcan School. Wag often turned to industry and city skyscrapers for his
subjects. Two of his paintings were accepted for that landmark of modern art
history, the 1913 Armory Show in New York, but it remains a mystery as to if
they actually appeared in the show? The man was prolific. Back when our Club
yet lived up to its name and would require sketches monthly from its members,
having them compete on themes, it seemed to always be Wag and his friend Franz
Lesshaft who alternated in capturing first and second place. Happy Lomas
complained in his history that it was “monotonous”. In 1912 he wrote, “In this
manner did the old custom of monthly competitions die in its fifty-second year.
Brought low by the combined work of the two prolific and firmly established
artists, Fred Wagner and Franz Lesshaft.”
Just as Thomas Anshutz painted the portraits of members to
become a frieze along the ceiling’s edge of the library, in 1919 Wag began a
series of portraits of thirty-two fellow members to run along the ceiling’s
edge in the Pool Room, which he completed in 1928. (And later William T.
Thompson would later do the same for the anteroom.)
It was appropriate for Wag to want to see the Pool Room
decorated. He loved the game. He would make a point of being the first to
arrive at the Grub Club’s meal so he could eat quickly and be the first to
leave the table, and secure the pool table. Sadly, Wag’s portraits have since
been taken down and stored where water and mildew have been able to reach them
and damaged them.
Wag was one of those well-loved, well-rounded members who
could dance and sing and throw himself into the Club’s Epicurean revels.
He was also known to have an obsessive enthusiasm for
fishing. He traveled far and wide in his pursuit, sometimes dragging other
members with him. In 1920, Charley Frishmuth, according to Lomas, presented Wag
with “a cane with a candle-light attachment, for the purpose of collecting
night-crawling worms on the Club’s lawn. The gift bestowal was a ceremonious
affair.” At the Club’s “Deep-Sea” Dance of 1924, the center piece was life-like
effigy of fisherman Wag holding a rod and peering into the sea.
Wag illustrated for the Philadelphia Press until 1902, but
then took up painting full time, except for when he taught, both at the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and at Addingham, and at his studio in
the Fuller Building in Philadelphia. In 1923, he served briefly as the Club’s
Vice President. He was a life member and died the 14th January 1940 in his
Philadelphia home at 5207 North Broad Street
 Many documents have different birth years but if one believes the census, it says his birth year was 1860 (not 1864).
The book, Fred Wagner – An American Painter 1860-1940 written by Club member Cyndy Drue and Susan Brendlinger Smith.
His father, Charles Franklin
Warwick, was the 160th Mayor of Philadelphia, from 1895 to 1899. Charles was
lawyer, scholar, lecturer, an author of books on French history and a history
of Philadelphia. While mayor, he did much for the support of the arts in
Philadelphia, but he opposed his son becoming an artist.
Edward Warwick, known in the Club
as Ned, was born in Philadelphia on the 10th December 1881. His father insisted
he attend the University of Pennsylvania, but he grew bored and quit to study
art at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art – which is presently the
University of the Arts, but this school has changed names so much, its alumni
usually refer to it as “Broad & Pine”.
He developed a passion for
antiques by working four years at Philadelphia’s largest importer of antiques
at that time, Ferdinand Keller. He continued to educate himself and became an
authority on historic furniture and fashion. He was given the post of lecturer
in furniture design at Broad & Pine. It was a post he held until 1931, at
which time he was made Dean, in 1952, upon retiring, Dean Emeritus. He also
held an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Moore Institute and
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Beaver College, just to mention a few of
his achievements. He lectured throughout the country on the history and design
of furniture (was called upon to authenticate Chippendale furniture for a
museum), on costume, and on stage design.
But our Ned was also a noted
watercolorist, oil painter, printmaker (engraving a hard linoleum manufactured
in Philadelphia specifically for the decks of aircraft carriers), pen &
ink, pastels, and photography. With fellow Club member and dear friend, Henry
C. Pitz, he wrote Early American Costumes.
Ned joined our Club in 1909, was devoted
to its society and gave his time and energy generously. He was to be seen
playing chess in the Pennell Room, lecturing in the gallery, and in one
surprising moment an astonished Bill Campbell witnessed his otherwise dignified
teacher wrestling Ed Smith in the rathskeller
following a dinner. “Both pretty vigorous guys”, Bill told me, but he doesn’t
recall who won.
Once a year, Ned joined with the
likes of such members as Henry C. Pitz, Steve Wilcox, and Bill Blood, to dress
in mediaeval clothing (complete to sword and shoes) and attend banquets of
roast suckling pig and flagons of hearty drink, an event they called Companions
of Camelot. Ned was accomplished at archery and was regularly the victor at
Ned carved his own furniture in
the mediaeval style. Our library table was designed by him.
Ned became legendary for his role
in the 1912 “Annual”, a one-act play titled Only a Child, which
he performed in drag, Mona Liza [sic] – A Wanderer. And again for his portrayal
as Mrs Harcort in the 1913 “Annual”, Misjudged: Or Still Waters Cut Deep.
He played baseball for the Club’s
Married team, which regularly trounced the Singles team. Ned had married the
extremely talented painter, Ethel Herrick of New York, who was a student at the
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Moore Institute. They made their home
in Germantown a salon for artist friends, such as Earl Horter, N.C. Wyeth, and
Arthur Bye, to meet and discuss art over dinner.
Nelson D. Warwick, Ned’s brother,
who joined the Club in 1915, served in the Great War as a Lieutenant in the
Army. He survived the war to come home, and then survived the Influenza
Pandemic of 1918, only to die the following year of appendicitis.
A third Warwick has joined our
Club, Edward Worthington Warwick, Ned’s one son.
During the difficult days of the
Depression, Ned helped to hold the Club together. He established the Barter
Show, in which the artists wrote down on a slip of paper by the work they
exhibited what they would take in trade, such things as a case of can soup or a
“A very well regarded
fellow-member,” wrote Ned’s friend and Club’s historian, Happy Lomas. Ned died
8th August 1973.
Ned loved classical music and had
one of the best collections of 78s in Philadelphia. “I remember my father being
angry only twice,” Ted told me. One of those occasions was when Ned was trying
to write a lecture while his son Ted was practicing to be a jazz drummer. There
was a momentary conflict of interest. “He was a terrific father,” Ted told me,
“I couldn’t have had better.” But what Ned’s son especially remembers is that
his parents were dedicated to each other, were in love their entire lives.
His images for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure
Island and Kidnapped remain with me through life. Because
I am one whose childhood was stirred by the illustrations of N. C. Wyeth, I
take great delight that this column presents me with the excuse to do a little
research and the opportunity to know him better. That N. C. Wyeth spent time in
the narrow confines of our Club makes me proud of my membership. He is one of
the personages who have made this Club a hallowed place for me.
Although he was a member from 1911 to 1919, there is
regretfully little evidence yet to be found in the clutter of our archives
despite the heroic efforts of our Dick Cohen. I first learned of N. C.’s
November 1912 exhibition in the Club’s gallery from David Michaelis’s book, N.
C. Wyeth: A Biography. He displayed twenty-five landscapes and ten
illustrations. Bill Patterson informs me that N. C. was a speaker after one on
the 1914 dinner meetings, the subject “Illustration”, and that in
1931 he was a juror for the Annual Small Oils Exhibition along with fellow
jurors Adolph Borie and Joseph T. Pearson.
Born 22nd October 1882 in Needham, Massachusetts, N. C. left
Needham High School after two years to attend and graduate from Massachusetts
Normal Art School, where his instructor, Richard Andrew, recommended he pursue
a career as an illustrator. What followed was study at the Eric Pape School of
Art in Boston and instruction during the summer with George L. Noyes in
Annisquam. Later while studying with Charles W. Reed, N. C. learned that the
great American illustrator, Howard Pyle, had opened a new school. So after N.
C. studied landscape painting with Charles H. Davis in Mystic, Connecticut, he
left New England for Wilmington, Delaware to study at the Howard Pyle School of
Upon graduating the school in 1904, at Pyle’s suggestion, N.
C. twice went out West, visiting Colorado and Utah, and making studies of the
life of cowboys and Indians. It is to be noted that throughout his life, N. C.
was a robust and exuberant man, as is obvious in the many photographs his
family has of him. Strength and joy issue from these pictures.
In 1906, N. C. was back east and he married Carolyn Bockius,
despite Pyle’s advice that, “”Art and marriage won’t mix.” And
in 1908, N. C. made his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where Howard Pyle
lived and had his students come to study in the summer months. The region
became a very real and permanent home for N. C., as is evident from his
letters. He was devoted to the landscape, even as he was a devoted and doting
husband and father. And I don’t wonder that he left our Club after 1919, when
he had such a fine home life and excellent studio, and that the city never held
for him the ceaseless charms of the countryside. It was after moving to Chadds
Ford that N. C. first read Thoreau’s Walden, a major influence in
In a letter to his mother, 7th June 1907, N. C.
writes, “It has been absolutely evident to me the past six months of the
uselessness of clinging to illustration and hoping to make it a great art. ‘It
is a stepping stone to painting,’ so says Mr. Pyle – but I am convinced that it
is a stepping stone backwards as well . . . .”
This irks me because I do not observe a division between
illustration and the fine arts. But perhaps N. C. was not in step with the fine
arts of his time.
In a letter to Sidney M. Chase (a fellow Noyes student and
later a fellow Pyle student) from 21st April 1916, “. I got
into a genuine nest of post impressionist of the rankist [sic] kind. Duchamp –
the-nude-descending-the-staircase man, and all the other nuts. I’ve kept my
mind entirely open to this movement and have struggled to derive some benefit,
and if possible to sympathize with their viewpoint. I spent a night at one of
their clubs on Madison Ave. Enough! They are entirely without aim or principle
– a motley lot of charlatans, most of them, with no head nor tail to their
endeavors unless it is to be different – goddamn the word. I worship
individuality, but one can’t manufacture it!!”
N. C. died the tragic death one fails to prepare for, the accident. It is
traumatic for family and friends, and fifty-six years after, just reading an
account of his death leaves me feeling cheated. Had he lived, he could have
done much more. On the 19th October 1945, N. C. and his grandson of the same
name, Newell Convers Wyeth, died when the car N. C. was driving was hit by a
train while they were within a mile of home.
To quote Samuel Yellin, “Only the imperceptive will ask why I avoid making every leaf in a foliated design just like every other leaf.”
He did not regard himself an artist, but insisted he was a craftsman, would call himself a blacksmith, would hang out a shingle that declared, “Samuel Yellin, Metalworker”.
To quote him again, “Is it right that metal should be modeled as clay – or as carved wood? Does it indicate that the material has been worked as that material should be worked? Does it indicate the craftsman’s unashamed love for his material and for his method of working it? The answer is ‘No.'”
Samuel Yellin wasn’t just mention in the Encyclopedia Britannica, in 1940 he was invited to write the section, “Modern Technique and Practice” on ironwork for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Sadly, it would be the same year he died of a heart attack at the young age of fifty-five.
He was born in 1885 in a village of Mogiler, Galacia, Poland at a time when it was ruled by a conqueror, Russia. Young Samuel turned away from his father’s career as attorney to study art and his family and friend arranged for him to be apprenticed to a Russian ornamental metalworker who would call his student the devil with a hammer in his hand. As a journeyman, already in possession of his master certificate, Yellin started traveling in 1902 throughout Europe to broaden and refine his skills. He came to our city in 1906.
It was to here in Philadelphia that his mother and sisters had arrived six years earlier. While he was doing small metalworking jobs, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (today the University of the Arts) to attend evening classes. The school quickly discovered his talent and they asked him to develop a class for working wrought iron. To do this, he built a forge in a carriage house adjacent to the school, financed by money from the President of the Associate Committee of Women of the Board of Trustees.
Yellin established his own studio in 1909, inconveniently located on the second floor of a building in South Philadelphia. He had to lift his material up to the window, work it in a place with low ceilings and poor ventilation, then lower the finished pieces. In 1915 he moved to the 5520 Arch Street location that would become his permanent studio, and from there he single-handedly revived the nearly extinct art of crafting wrought iron. By 1920, he would be presented a medal by the American Institute of Architects for his achievements, the first time that medal was not given to an architect. Then he joined our fair Club in 1922.
In those booming years before the Crash, he was never without assignments and his operation grew to over 250 workers. He served the nation’s wealthy, doing work on the numerous banks and in Philadelphia on the former Packard Building. The largest commission ever in the U.S. was also his, 200 tons of wrought iron used in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also did work for private wealth, such as for Vanderbilt’s and J.P. Morgan’s Long Island estates, for Mellon and Heinz in Pittsburgh, for DuPont in Wilmington, for Eastman in Rochester, Ford in Detroit, and the Rosenbach brothers in Philadelphia. He also fulfilled commissions for the top league schools of our nation, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburg.
Besides banks, the private homes of the wealthy, and schools, he also turned his artistry to the needs of the church. One finds examples of his work at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the Washington Cathedral in Washington DC (indeed, they named the style after him, Yellin Gothic), the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in our own Philadelphia, and the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburg – okay, well, so that last one isn’t actually a religious center. For all the work Yellin did on Christian institutions, let there be no doubt he has earned his place in Heaven. Never mind that he was Jewish, as he said, if Saint Peter refused to give him the key to Heaven, he would forge one himself.
We can be grateful to find his craft lives on with his granddaughter, Claire Yellin, who continues to direct a forge. We also see his tradition carried on in our very own Peter Renzetti.