Born in Lithuania, William Zorach and his family immigrated to Cleveland in 1891. He left school to work for a commercial lithography firm while studying at the Cleveland School of Art. He moved to New York in 1907, enrolling at the National Academy of Design. He then traveled to Paris, where he met the artist Marguerite Thompson. The couple moved back to New York City together, holding joint exhibitions in their home. By 1922, Zorach abandoned painting to focus on his work as a sculptor.
British-born Thomas Hill immigrated to Massachusetts with his family when he was young. He later found himself drawn west, eventually settling in San Francisco, where he made the grandeur of California the subject of many paintings. Even while traveling on the East Coast and in Europe, he continued to paint California scenes. He made annual sketching trips to Yosemite, Mount Shasta, and the White Mountains, and he kept a studio at Yosemite’s Wawona Hotel (now Big Trees Lodge) in his final years.
Following the early death of her mother, Cecilia Beaux was raised by her grandmother and aunt. From the latter she learned a sense of independence, something typically not encouraged in women of the time. Beaux began to study drawing at the age of 16 and later traveled to France to continue her art education. Upon her return to the United States, she became the first female faculty member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, teaching there for over twenty years.
Born in Guadalajara, Raúl Anguiano moved to Mexico City in 1934 and, like many of the leading Mexican artists of his day, adopted the revolutionary politics of the Communist Party. In 1937 he cofounded an artists’ print collective concerned with using art to advance causes such as the rights of the working poor and opposition to fascism.
Arthur Frank Mathews was a painter, architect, muralist, illustrator, publisher, craftsman, and designer. With his wife, Lucia, he created a decorative style unique to California. Born in Wisconsin, Mathews moved to Oakland with his family as a child. As a teenager he enrolled at the California School of Design to study painting—he later became the school’s director. After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Mathews established the Furniture Shop, which created furniture and decorative objects.
Alexander Pope was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1849. Although he briefly studied sculpture, he essentially taught himself how to paint. His personal interest in hunting was a significant aspect of his artistic persona, and his studio was full of related paraphernalia. The Wild Swan, produced in a sportsman’s setting, suggests both artistic ambition and the artist’s own love of the hunt. Pope’s work helped popularize this type of still-life painting in late 19th-century America.
George de Forest Brush began his academic training in New York at the National Academy of Design, followed by a journey to Paris when he was 19 years old. After an extended period in Europe, Brush and his brother Alfred traveled to the American West, where he spent time with the Arapaho, Shoshone, and Crow tribes. Brush later returned to New York, where he sought to depict subjects and human experiences common to all people.
Joseph Raphael was born in Jackson, California. He studied at the California School of Design in San Francisco and the École des Beaux-Arts and Académie Julian in Paris. He stayed in Europe for nearly four decades, maintaining ties to the San Francisco art community. He and his wife settled in the countryside in Uccle, Belgium, where they raised five children. With the approach of World War II, Raphael moved back to San Francisco, where he maintained a studio on Sutter Street for the rest of his life.
Born in Montpelier, Vermont, Thomas Waterman Wood painted idealized scenes of everyday life. He first established himself as a portrait painter, traveling widely to paint commissions. After a year of study in Europe, he began painting genre scenes and diverse images of American people—works that secured his reputation. Wood influenced other American artists as president of the National Academy of Design from 1891 to 1899. He also established the Wood Gallery of Art in his native Montpelier.
Agnes Pelton’s images are not pictorial records of nature, but rather equivalents for her emotional experiences of it. Born to American parents in Germany and raised in New York, Pelton studied with Arthur Wesley Dow at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. In 1921 she left New York for Long Island. There, she painted the first of her Symbolic Abstractions. She later settled in Cathedral City, California, where she was inspired in part by the spectacular natural environment around her studio.