Born in Kentucky, Thomas Pollock Anshutz moved with his family in 1863 to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he spent his teenage years growing up amid the urban factories that dominated the banks of the Ohio River. He went on to become one of the most important art teachers in the United States, teaching for nearly three decades at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he influenced the next generation of American realist painters.
Irving Ramsay Wiles studied violin before switching to painting, and music remained central to his life and work. He began his formal study at the Art Students League in New York under William Merritt Chase, who became his mentor. In the winter of 1882, Wiles worked in the Tenth Street Studio Building, where Chase kept his famous studio. The two became close friends, and Wiles faithfully upheld Chase’s teachings for the rest of his career.
A native of Kentucky, Charles Courtney Curran moved to New York City in 1881, where he was active in the art community and established his reputation as a painter of portraits and genre scenes. Curran studied in New York and Paris; he maintained connections with American artists abroad, such as his friend John Singer Sargent. He later helped establish the artist colony at Cragsmoor in Ulster County, New York, and from 1911 to 1913 he contributed art lessons to the magazine Palette and Brush.
Born and raised in New York City, Dennis Miller Bunker studied there until he set sail for Paris at the age of 20. Once in Paris he found a mentor in the French painter and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme, with whom he studied until 1884. Upon his return to the United States, Bunker was introduced to the circle of artists who surrounded Isabella Stewart Gardner, the Boston socialite and art collector, and he worked as the principal instructor of drawing and painting at the Cowles School of Art.
Charles Frederic Ulrich was born in New York in 1858. The son of a German artist, he received early training before enrolling at the National Academy of Design. In 1875 he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Ulrich remained in Germany for several years, where he was influenced by artistic techniques he saw. After returning to the United States, he developed a positive reputation as an artist, and his small-scale genre scenes were well received.
Charles Caryl Coleman was a prominent American expatriate artist who lived in Rome following the Civil War. In 1883, a writer for the Roman News described his studio as “a scene from a fairy play [filled with] antique tapestries and medieval paintings and brass lamps and rich oriental rugs, which the magician Coleman has managed to bring together.” He incorporated many of the exotic objects in his studio into his still-life paintings of the 1870s and 1880s.
Frank Duveneck was born to German immigrants in Covington, Kentucky. As a teenager, he apprenticed in an altar-building shop in Cincinnati, where his teachers encouraged him to travel to Germany to study. His training at Munich’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts helped him develop a confident painting style. After a trip to Venice in 1877, Duveneck started his own painting school in Munich, guiding his students (known as the “Duveneck Boys”) around Europe’s art capitals, including Venice and Florence.
Jefferson David Chalfant first established himself as a fine artist in Wilmington, Delaware; he continued his studies at the Académie Julian in Paris with the French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. A meticulous painter of illusionistic still-life paintings, his depictions of dollar bills and postage stamps were occasionally perceived as perfect forgeries. In addition to his work as a painter, Chalfant also patented several inventions, including a bike seat and a type-justification machine.
George Fuller was born to an artistic family in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He moved to Boston to begin his career, later becoming an itinerant portrait painter. He moved to New York for a few years, eventually returning to Deerfield to run the family farm, which cultivated cranberries and tobacco. When the price of tobacco plummeted, Fuller rededicated himself to painting—he was met with surprising success and received critical acclaim for his visionary and poetic pictures.
Henry Alexander was born in San Francisco to a pioneer family. At the age of 17, he traveled to Germany to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He later returned to his hometown, calling it “the painter’s happy hunting ground.” In 1887 he left for New York City in order to be at the center of the American art world. Since many of his paintings and records were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, only a selection of his paintings can still be viewed today.