Charles Sheeler initially trained as a portrait painter at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. After traveling to Italy and France in 1909, he became interested in the work of Paul Cézanne. After returning to Philadelphia, Sheeler eventually took up photography. His work as a photographer served as the foundation for the development of his Precisionist painting style, which emphasized regularity, planar surfaces, and an application of paint that denied the artist’s hand.
George Copeland Ault was born in Cleveland, where he grew up in a prosperous but conservative family. He trained in British art schools when his father’s job took the family to London. Ault eventually moved to New York City, where he began painting in a flat, planar style (of which his father disapproved). While his early modernist abstractions earned early acclaim, he became increasingly isolated from the art world, eventually withdrawing to the artistic community of Woodstock, New York.
Charles Demuth was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and began his artistic career in Philadelphia. After a trip to Paris in 1907, his style underwent a radical change—he was fascinated by the work of Paul Cézanne and met with pioneering artists such as Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. Upon his return to America, Demuth befriended influential artists and writers. His work addressed the experience of living in the modern world, with compositions that felt fragmented, dynamic, and detached.
Born in New York City, James Bard would become one of the nation’s top marine painters, chronicling the commercial activity of the Hudson River. Although he occasionally painted schooners and yachts, he is best known for depicting steamboats, the technological marvel of his generation. While his paintings are remarkable for their draftsmanship and precise nautical detail, they represent flawless idealizations rather than working vessels.
Jasper Francis Cropsey encouraged his fellow artists to experience nature firsthand, observe it closely, and depict it faithfully. For painters of the Hudson River School like Cropsey, sketching outdoors was central to their practice. During the summer, these artists left their urban studios and traveled in search of natural scenery to sketch. Cropsey made his first such trip in 1843 after completing an architecture apprenticeship, and the resulting painting helped establish his artistic career.
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke was born in San Francisco in 1856. She showed artistic talent at a young age, and she enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris when she was 15, debuting at the Paris Salon the following year. At 33, one of her paintings won a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle, and she painted the American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1889, Klumpke met the painter Rosa Bonheur, with whom she forged a lasting personal and professional partnership.
William Hahn was born in Germany, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and the Düsseldorf Academy. The student body at the Düsseldorf Academy included many Americans, and Hahn later moved to the United States to reunite with his friend, the California artist William Keith. The two artists shared a studio and were active members of the San Francisco artistic community.
Although Eastman Johnson is best known today for his depictions of life in late 19th-century America, he derived most of his income from portraiture. Starting in the mid-1840s, he secured important portrait commissions through his father’s political connections. Following a period of study in Europe, Johnson divided his efforts between portraits and genre pictures. After the turmoil of the Civil War, his narrative scenes offered views of American communities and family life.
Albert Lorey Groll grew up in New York City and pursued his artistic education abroad, studying in Munich, Antwerp, and London. After returning to New York City, he decided to pursue landscape painting. Groll traveled to Arizona in 1904, followed by a trip to New Mexico in 1906. While he would go on to keep a studio in New York City, collectors in the east developed a taste for his western paintings, necessitating repeat visits to the deserts and pueblos of the region.
Born on a ranch near Fresno, California, Maynard Dixon is best known for his paintings of the American West. He traveled widely, exploring the West beyond California, making visits to Montana, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. He was attracted both to the landscape and the people he met on his travels. He experimented with a variety of painting styles and color palettes, all in service of visually telling stories about the land and its inhabitants.