RODERIC O’CONOR An exact contemporary of Charles Gruppe, O’Conor is listed as both Irish and Irish-American (by Bénézit, in error). His place of birth was Roscommon, Ireland (on 17 October 1860). Regarded as Ireland’s most progressive painter of his time, O’Conor was close to both Gauguin and Armand Seguin in the Pont-Aven region, and he was wealthy enough to purchase paintings by Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Manet, and others. O’Conor studied art in Dublin (1879-83), Antwerp (1883), then in Paris under Carolus-Duran and at the Académie Julian. He was working in Grèz-sur-Loing in the 1880s (Jacobs, 1985, p. 33), and began exhibiting his works at the Salon des Indépendants in 1890. Later he would take part in the Salon d’Automne. O’Conor first came to Brittany in 1890, and two years later he executed Yellow Landscape at Pont-Aven (Barnet Shine Collection, London). At Pont-Aven, O’Conor also did engravings. The Irishman befriended Gauguin there, also in 1892. The latter tried to persuade his “drinking buddy” O’Conor to accompany him to Tahiti. The Irish painter was certainly as avant-garde as Gauguin. Breton Peasant Knitting, already post-impressionistic, was painted in 1893, and The Farm at Lezaven, Finistère (National Gallery of Ireland), a year later. According to tradition, O’Conor inspired the character of Clutton, the failed artist in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. The letters between Seguin and O’Conor were published in 1989, as Une vie de bohème. In the introduction, Denys Sutton describes how O’Conor served as Seguin’s “father confessor.” O’Conor’s friend Clive Bell (in Old Friends, 1956, p. 163), pointed out that O’Conor “seems to have known . . . most of the more interesting French painters of his generation — the Nabis for instance.” O’Conor’s use of bold color anticipates the Fauves and the German Expressionists. His knowledge of avant-garde painting had a direct impact on the formalist critics Roger Fry and Clive Bell. O’Conor influenced both Robert Vonnoh and Edward Potthast in Grèz, and he oriented Alden Brooks (1840-1931) to Vincent van Gogh’s innovative techniques. Brooks stated that O’Conor was “considered by all the one genius of the crowd.” (Hill, 1987, p. 14). He died at Neuil-sur-Layon on 18 March 1940.
Fredrick Wagner was born in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1864. He received a scholarship to study art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins and in 1884 was made chief Demonstrator of Anatomy there. In 1885, Wagner left the Academy to make a painting tour of San Antonio, Texas, and then went on to Los Angeles, California, where he painted a number of landscapes and portraits. He returned to Philadelphia as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Press until 1902, and then moved to Norristown, Pennsylvania to paint full time. In 1912, Wagner opened a Philadelphia studio and taught classes in outdoor painting at Addingham, and later, at the Pennsylvania Academy's summer school in Chester Springs. His reputation grew, and he took on additional classes at his studio in the Fuller Building. In 1913, Wagner exhibited in the now famous Armory Show in New York City. He exhibited frequently at the Pennsylvania Academy's annual exhibitions, and in 1914, was awarded the Fellowship Prize. He was awarded Honorable Mentions from the Pittsburgh International, the Philadelphia Art Club, and the Carnegie Institute in 1922. His paintings are in the collections of the Cleveland Museum; St. Louis Museum, MO; Fort Wayne Museum, IN; Kalamazoo Museum, MI; Rochester Museum, NY; Worcester Art Museum, MA, and the Reading Museum, PA. Fred Wagner died in Philadelphia in 1940.
Born in Ogdenburg, Germany, Henry Raschen became one of America's leading painters of Indian portraits and figures in the 19th and early 20th centuries and was the first California artist to be committed to Indian themes. He also painted still lifes and landscapes, the latter with skillful play of light and shadow. In 1868, he and his family emigrated to Fort Ross, California where they spent one year and then settled in San Francisco. He took early art lessons at the San Francisco Art Association under Charles Nahl and Virgil Williams and also studied with noted figure painter of altar pieces, Joseph Harrington. Feeling the need for more extensive training, he went to Munich in the late 1870s and became part of the numerous California artists then studying in Munich at that time. There he became friends and a painting companion of William Merritt Chase, and he also traveled in Italy and France. In 1883, he settled in San Francisco and for the next eight years went with landscape painter Carl Von Perbandt on excursions among Indian tribes of California and the Southwest, and he gained much attention for the life-like quality of his paintings. From 1890 to 1894, he lived and had his studio in Munich where he was a successful painter and teacher, and after returning to San Francisco, won the gold medal at the Munich Exposition of 1898. He went on an expedition with Army General Nelson A. Miles when Miles and his troops captured Apache Chief Geronimo at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, 30 miles northeast of Douglas. Many years later in Oklahoma, Raschen sketched Geronimo whom he visited in prison at Fort Sill. In the early 20th century, a key person in establishing Raschen as a major artist in San Francisco was Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, mother of publisher William Randolph Hearst. In 1906, damage from the earthquake and fire caused him to move across the bay to Oakland where he painted until his death in 1937. Source: Edan Hughes,
Anna Althea Hills was born January 28, 1882 in Ravenna, Ohio. She studied at the Chicago Art Institute; Cooper Union Art School in New York City; she worked with Arthur Dow (1857-1922) and later studied at the Academie Julian in Paris. While in Europe she studied with John Noble Barlow (1861-1917). In 1912 she moved to Laguna Beach, California becoming a leading member of the Laguna Beach art community. She was an active member of the California Art Club, held a membership at the Washington Watercolor Club and served at the Laguna Beach Art Association as president from 1922 to 1925 and from 1927 to 1930. Hills was highly regarded as an art teacher and encouraged the study of the visual arts at the local public schools. Captivated and inspired by her new surroundings, she created atmospheric impressionist landscapes showing a reverence and appreciation of nature. The subjects of her plein-air landscapes varied from treescapes, the Laguna Beach coastline, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the vast Southern California and Arizona deserts, Santa Ana Canyon, arroyos and interior scenes. Hills won the Bronze Medal at the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego in 1915; the Bronze Medal at the California State Fair, 1919; and the Landscape Prize at the Laguna Beach Art Association, 1922, 1923. She died at the early age of forty-eight on June 13, 1930 in Laguna Beach, California.
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth was born on September 17, 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A student of such renowned artists as Auguste Rodin and Gutzon Borglum, Frishmuth's reputation and career grew steadily throughout the first several decades of the twentieth century, with exhibitions at the National Academy of Design, the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Salon in Paris, the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940) and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. Her favorite models were dancers, especially Desha Delteil - immortalized in Frishmuth's most famous work, The Vine - a model particularly popular with artists for her ability to hold difficult poses for long periods of time. The final exhibits of Frishmuth's work took place in New York City in 1929, but she remained active in the art world for many years following. Frishmuth passed away in 1980 at the age of 99. A proponent of the Beaux Arts style - Frishmuth was exceptionally critical of modern art, often calling it "spiritless" - her works can now be seen in some of the world's leading museums and collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Dallas Museum of Art, and Ohio University's Kennedy Museum of Art.