Thu . 19 Jun 2019

Gifford Beal

gifford beal artist, gifford beal
Gifford Beal January 24, 1879 – February 5, 1956 was an American artist noted for his work as a painter, watercolorist, printmaker and muralist


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career rise and recognition
  • 3 Museums and government buildings
  • 4 Gifford Beal Archive
  • 5 Style and inspiration
  • 6 Notes
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Early lifeedit

Born in New York City, Gifford Beal was the youngest son in a family of six surviving children His oldest brother Reynolds Beal 1866–1951 also went on to become an accomplished painter as did his niece Marjorie Acker 1894–1985, who married Duncan Phillips, the founder of The Phillips Collection of Washington DC

Beal knew from an early age that he wanted to paint Between 1892 and 1901 he studied with William Merritt Chase 1849–1916 on weekends in New York City and during the summer at Chase’s School in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island1

After graduating from Princeton University in 1900 he studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1901 to 1903 with George Brandt Bridgman 1864–1943 and Frank Vincent DuMond 1865–1951

Career rise and recognitionedit

In 1903 Beal won his first award 3rd prize in a competitive exhibition, held at Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts Many prizes followed including those awarded by:

  • National Academy of Design, New York, Hallgarten Prize in 1910
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 3rd Medal and $1,000 Prize in 1914
  • Panama Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, gold medal in 1915
  • Art Institute of Chicago, International Watercolor Exhibition, Blair Prize in 1930
  • Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne 1937, Paris, silver medal in 1937
  • National Academy of Design, New York, Saltus Medal in 1948
  • National Academy of Design, New York, Samuel Finley Breese Morse gold medal in 1954
  • National Academy of Design, New York, Edward Palmer memorial Prize in 1955

Beal was elected President of the Art Students League of New York in 1916, again in 1918, and from 1920 he held this office continuously until 1930, becoming the longest serving President in its history He taught at The Art Students’ League in 1931 and 1932

In 1920 Beal held his first one-man exhibition at Kraushaar Galleries in New York City It was the beginning of a lifelong relationship he would have with the gallery His work was exhibited continuously in the country

Beal’s involvement with organizations for the advancement of the arts began in 1908 when he was elected to Associate by the National Academy of Design; in 1914 he was elected to National Academician In 1923 he became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1943 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters He was a National Academician of the American Watercolor Society from 1910 until 1955 He was also a member of the Century Association, a New York City club founded in 1847 for artists and writers

Beal also taught, and among his pupils was the painter Ann Brockman2

Museums and government buildingsedit

Beal’s work is held in a number of museum collections including:

  • Metropolitan Museum, New York City
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
  • The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
  • Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut
  • New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
  • Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York

Additionally Beal was commissioned to produce murals for several government buildings:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania, Post Office, 19383
  • Main Interior Building, Washington DC, 1941
  • Crestline, Ohio Post Office, 1943 4

Gifford Beal Archiveedit

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC holds an archive5 concerning Beal’s career as an artist containing correspondence, writings, works of art and printed material, much of it provided by Kraushaar Galleries, New York City This collection has been fully digitized and is available online

Style and inspirationedit

Beal’s subjects varied He found inspiration not only in holiday spectacle and pageantry but also in the natural and everyday side of life Some of his best known pictures are of holiday crowds, circus performers and hunting scenes Yet, Beal enjoyed painting the Caribbean Islands and the landscape along the Hudson River and in Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts, where he spent many summers He depicted many scenes of the fishermen who worked there

The French Impressionists' use of color and light to create form and atmosphere provided Beal's first influence As his personal style developed, other elements of painting were emphasized: compositions were built on line and form thereby adding more solidity to the work For example, he depended on balanced, rhythmic elements to depict motion in riding or fishing scenes Beal believed in the power of spontaneity and would sometimes rework a "dead" area of color with line in order to revitalize it

Beal's style underwent a simplification in the 1930s, his "austere" phase which coincided with American regionalism As he grew older, his work became increasingly free and spirited, in part due to his exploration of different media, especially egg/oil tempera and brush and ink These changes increased his sense of color and gesture, and he began to emphasize the abstract qualities of his subject He did some of his boldest and brightest work during the last years of his life6


  1. ^ Richard Beer, “As They Are,” The Art News May 19, 1934
  2. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G Heller 19 December 2013 North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary Routledge ISBN 978-1-135-63882-5 
  3. ^ Murals "Living New Deal" livingnewdealorg p 1 Retrieved 11 December 2014 
  4. ^ Park, Marlene and Gerald E Markowitz, Democratic vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1984
  5. ^ Gifford Beal Sketches, Sketchbooks and Papers, 1902-1953, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
  6. ^ Kraushaar Galleries, New York City


  • "Gifford Beal-An Appreciation," by Barry Faulkner for the Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by Gifford Beal New York: American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1956
  • "His Art Was Joyful: Death of Gifford Beal, 14 Years President of the League", Art Students League News 9, No 3 March 1956
  • "Chase the Artist," by Gifford Beal, Scribner's Magazine 61 February 1917:258
  • "Gifford Beal: Perennially Youthful Painter of the Good Life," American Artist October 1953:24
  • "Gifford Beal’s Versatility," Helen Comstock, International Studio June 1923: 242
  • "A Collection in the Making”, Duncan Phillips 1926, E Weyhe, New York

External linksedit

  • Gifford Beal Papers Online at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
  • Century Association
  • Department of Interior Museum
  • American Watercolor Society
  • Florence Griswold Museum
  • Gifford Beal exhibition catalogs full pdf from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries

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