Adam Emory Albright (1862 - 1957)

 

adam emory albright
adam emory albright

By Marianne Richter, Ph.D. © Illinois Historical Art Project

Adam Emory Albright was one of the most successful painters working in Chicago at the beginning of the twentieth century. One hundred years later he is unfortunately not as well remembered as his son, painter Ivan Albright (1897-1983). Although his countless images of barefoot country children may seem sentimental to modern viewers, from 1899, when Adam Emory Albright began focusing on this subject matter, until the 1920s, when newer artists and art forms were dominating Chicago art, his paintings struck a chord with Midwestern audiences. Many collecting institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Toledo Museum of Art, purchased his work. Called “The Farmer Artist” by his friends, Albright had numerous one-man exhibitions at American museums and was a regular prizewinner at juried exhibitions.1


Albright’s own childhood mirrored his subject matter superficially, for he was born into a farming family in Monroe, Wisconsin, on August 15, 1862, the eleventh of thirteen children. Unlike the carefree children of Albright’s paintings, however, the artist’s own rural childhood was marked by hardship. His father, Zachariah, had been interested in art himself as a child, but had been forced to abandon it when his father apprenticed him to a gunsmith at the age of twelve. Albright’s mother, Catherine Kepler, was the daughter of a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer. Zachariah and Catherine were married in Millheim, Pennsylvania, on August 24, 1843. They soon traveled west seeking better economic opportunities.


The Albright family settled in Iowa when Adam was an infant where he grew up in great poverty. Albright stated that “From as early as I can remember I liked to make pictures.”2 In his autobiography, he also recalled that he was once “reprimanded for making pictures in school and told if I wasted my time again, I would be sorry.”3 Zachariah Albright constantly tried to find ways to make enough money to support his family with little success. When Adam was seven, the family home was sold to satisfy the mortgage put on the farm to purchase a threshing machine. Such financial misfortunes dogged the family constantly. Later, while the family was living in New Hartford, Butler County, Iowa, Albright’s father tried chicken farming, but the chickens died from cholera. At twelve, Albright began helping the family by working for farmers as a cow herder frequently missing school as a result. During this period, Albright also sold his first work for 15 cents, a picture of a neighbor’s home .The jobs he was forced to take to help support the family were not enjoyable and by the age of sixteen, he had determined he was through with manual labor and began sketching regularly. Albright’s earliest serious artistic efforts were portraits done in profile based on magnified photographs. As he completed enough sketches to have a portfolio, Albright walked through town looking for potential purchasers.4


On November 11, 1880, at eighteen years of age, Albright left home to seek his fortune as an artist. His parents, still impoverished, were unable to give him anything more than their blessing, and Albright set out in the world with only thirty-five cents to his name.5 He traveled on foot to Missouri, where he tracked down two older brothers who ran a profitable general store in Lamar. Although he assisted his brothers at their store, Albright’s main source of income remained sales of his artwork. Albright also taught art, the only time in his life he would do so. Early in his stay in Lamar, he encountered a childhood friend, Clara Amelia Wilson, who was a cousin of one of his brothers’ wives. He and Clara fell in love, but both were committed to furthering their education.6 Altogether, Albright spent a year in Lamar, saving money to be used for art school.


On December 31, 1881, Albright traveled to Chicago to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He later recalled that he arrived at the Academy on January 3, 1882, paying his tuition and library fees immediately, and that he boarded at 365 West Lake Street. While at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, renamed the Art Institute of Chicago during his second year, Albright studied still-life painting and portraiture with John Henry Vanderpoel (1857-1911) and life drawing with A. J. Rupert (1854-?).7 He enrolled in the day class, which was dominated by female students. By his own admission, Albright was an ignorant boy from the country, but city life appealed to him greatly. During a summer visit to his parents after the first year of school, he realized that it was “sheer folly to think of ever making New Hampton my home again. Chicago had spoiled me for the rural homes and fields.”8


In the fall of 1883, Albright enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, then considered to be the finest American art school9. He was a student in the life class of Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), and he also took an anatomy class during his first year. According to Albright, Eakins was an exacting teacher: “If Eakins noticed improvement he would take a brush and put the letter “E” in one corner of your canvas. That was the grand and only prize. In the three years I had but one “E” and the students said I spoiled the figure after Eakins left. I probably did.”10 Albright had great respect for the master and later commented, “I am convinced that Eakins deserves the very top place in American Art, or art anywhere.”11


The first of Albright’s paintings to be included in an exhibition was completed in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, near his parents’ childhood homes, during the summer after his first year at the Pennsylvania Academy. Old Mill Near Tyrone, Penn (location unknown) was shown at the annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1884.12 After Albright’s last year at the Academy, he proposed to Clara by mail and was accepted with the agreement that both would finish their education before marriage. As with most American art students of the late nineteenth century, Albright completed his education in Europe, studying with Karl von Marr in Munich and with Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant in Paris.13 Altogether, he stayed in Europe for two years. In France, he visited the Louvre, where he copied the work of the Old Masters.14


Albright returned to America in 1888 and won, through competition, his first commission, a 15-foot figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Topeka State House. Unfortunately, the building was never completed, so what would have been Albright’s sole endeavor at sculpture was never realized. On December 24, 1888, Albright and Clara Wilson were married in St. Louis, immediately traveling to Chicago to make their new home. In his autobiography he noted that he worried a great deal at this time about how he would make a living from art.15


The Albrights’ first home was on South Morgan Street, but within the year, they had moved to the North side. His studio during this early period in Chicago was located on Dearborn Street and he worked as both a portraitist and a genre painter.16 Newsboys were a recurring subject matter in his paintings.17 They were inexpensive models. His budding career was noted in the press, as was his interest in depicting newsboys, boot blacks, and street urchins, and it was predicted that he would have a successful career.18


In 1892, Clara had returned to St. Louis to give birth to their first child Lisle. Shortly after Lisle’s birth, the Albrights moved further north to Edison Park (now Chicago), to a home Albright had built on two vacant lots. This was a period of great excitement in Chicago, for the city was in the final stages of preparations for its first international event. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition provided Chicago artists with a unique opportunity to display their work alongside that of artists from around the country as well as Europe. Accordingly, most local artists eagerly submitted work to the juried exhibition. Albright was no exception, submitting two paintings, the first a large-scale work on the subject of temperance, and the second a smaller still life entitled Morning Glories (location unknown). Although his own ambitions were tied up in the Temperance painting, the jury surprised the artist by selecting Morning Glories instead.19


During his early professional career, Albright struggled to make a living. In 1896, Albright and his family went to Munich for six months, hoping to find better luck there. He rented out the house in Edison Park. Albright found his second trip to Europe to be less successful than his earlier one, however, later writing, “I did little in Munich. Munich, for a student was one thing. Munich, for an artist, quite another.20 Upon the family’s return to Chicago in the spring of 1896, they lived in a house on North Harvey Street by the Calumet River because the Edison Park house was still occupied by renters. Albright exhibited the works he had created while abroad in his studio, receiving a favorable notice in the paper by a critic who noted the artist was showing more sensitivity for “pure beauty in line and color.”21 He continued to concentrate chiefly on portraits and moralistic depictions of newsboys and other indigent people until 1899.22 His interest in such subject matter may have been influenced by the work of John George Brown (1831-1913), who had first popularized this subject matter in the 1870s.


In February 1897, Albright’s identical twin sons, Ivan Le Lorraine and Malvin Marr, were born in the house on North Harvey Street.23 Albright was maintaining two studios at the time, one at home and the other in the Owinga building in downtown Chicago, where he had visiting hours on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.24 Throughout his career, Albright made his studio accessible to art lovers, a practice that would help in his success at selling work. He also appears to have gained many supporters in the community, for from the late 1890s on, there were frequent private viewings of his work hosted by Chicago citizens.25 In the summer of 1899, Albright closed his city studio permanently and worked in his Edison Park home. The same summer first saw him concentrating on the subject matter that would preoccupy him for the rest of his long career: country children. In this interest, Albright, a regular visitor to museums and galleries, was probably aware of earlier paintings of this subject matter by American artists such as Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), and Enoch Wood Perry (1831-1915), as well as the work of European artists such as Jules Breton. The subject of country children had become enormously popular in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the aftermath of the Civil War, many artists mirrored the public’s nostalgia for seemingly simpler times by depicting rustic subjects.26


Barefoot children at work and at play in rural areas were also of interest to writers and poets such as John Greenleaf Whittier and James Whitcomb Riley. Whittier’s poem, “The Barefoot Boy,” in particular, makes an apt comparison to painted images of country children: Blessings on thee, little man,


Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, ---
I was once a barefoot boy!27


Likewise, James Whitcomb Riley’s poetry dealt with similar themes. Over the years, critics made frequent comparisons between Albright’s paintings and Whittier and Rileys’ poems, often calling Albright the “James Whitcomb Riley of the Brush.”28


Albright’s first painting to feature a country boy was entitled Killing Frogs, and his oldest son Lisle served as the model.29 His new subject matter met with immediate success. His first oneperson exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago was that fall, and the exhibition then traveled to the Detroit Museum of Art in December 1900, the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1901, and the Toledo Museum of Art in 1902. Singled out for praise by many critics were The Coming Storm and Trouble Ahead (locations unknown).30


Albright realized that part of his popularity had to do with nostalgia, and he wrote in his autobiography that his barefoot boys had made friends for him “of big men sitting behind mahogany desks who once were barefoot boys.”31 It is interesting that Albright painted such idyllic paintings of childhood in the country, when it is clear from his own account that his rural hildhood had been marked by poverty, labor, and constant upheaval. Few reviewers appear to have discerned the underlying fantasy of his paintings. Typical of many critics’ perception of Albright’s subject matter was the comment,


“Mr. Albright paints pictures that have something to say of human life and companionship. His young folk are never lonely or sentimental in a melancholy way. He reads children as Longfellow read them, and the ambition of his life is to give them to the world as painted poems.”32


Another writer noted,


“Mr. Albright’s eminent success in painting country children is due to intimate sympathy and imagination; and when you look upon his work you are apt to recall, not merely a group of happy children at play as you have seen them with your grown-up eyes, but your own childhood and your childhood’s chums: your own country home, lost long ago in a dissolving rainbow-mirage of mist and sun, the old familiar ‘wonderland of wayward childhood,’ indeed, with all its ‘dreamy gleam and gloom and bloom and balm.’”33


The same reviewer was aware that the way of life shown in Albright’s paintings had vanished. He observed “the scenes take us back some forty years, as do many of Mr. Albright’s pictures, to that picturesque period in architecture, when hay was really raked by flesh-and-blood Maud Mullers, and judges rode sorrel horses down solitary lanes.”34


Albright’s choice of subject matter also appealed to many art critics’ sense of nationalism, and they often commented on its “Americaness”.


“The American country child offers a field for the artist. It is a distinct creation, partaking of the pioneer spirit of colonial times, untrammeled by the conventions that train the Dutch child into his prim manners and confine him with wooden shoes and free from the traditions that have brought Italian and Spanish youth to habits of half-conscious posing and the knowledge that they are ever parts of a picture.”35


Another reviewer echoed this idea, stating,


“His love of country life you feel throughout his work. You know it is the work of an American done for the joy of Americans, as well as the rest of the world, for his fame has traveled abroad. We know that the American boy is distinct from the boy of any other nation, and because Emory Albright has realized this and has caught the American boy’s distinction, transferring it with consummate skill to his canvases, we can believe that a new American painter has risen among us, a painter who has opened our eyes to the possibilities of the further development of our own art.”36


Albright’s working methods from the time he began painting children until his death varied little. While he experimented heavily with egg tempera and was a noted authority on its use, oil paint was his primary medium and he adapted a variety of techniques to change the composition of the oil paints to suit his needs.37 In creating a new painting he began by making a crayon sketch of the scene he wished to depict, and he then had the models pose according to his conception. He also used photography to capture poses.38 Albright was known for using a three-color palette of rose-madder, cobalt blue, and chrome yellow, mixing the colors to achieve other tones. He noted that he used more blue when painting seascapes, more yellow when painting fields, and more red when painting interiors.39 Although his work generally received positive reviews, through the years a number of critics urged him to be more painstaking in his renderings of faces and other details. Albright liked working in the early morning and the late afternoon the best because he preferred the long shadows characteristic of these times of day.40 Although Albright’s paintings featured spring, summer, and autumn scenes, the artist stated that he used the winter months both to paint and to plan future paintings: “I don’t wait for an inspiration to come. It is wonderful
what an aid to the imagination a pencil in hand and a little pad of paper are. Then, when spring comes, I look over my sketchbook, select whatever appeals to me as best suited to my purpose, and proceed to hunt models, to group them, and to paint.”41


Albright painted outdoors, directly from nature, as much as possible. He used ropes and stakes to secure his canvas from the wind, and he stretched “opaque stuff” across the back of the stretcher in order to keep the sun from shining through his canvases. He also wore a black blouse that buttoned to the chin and wrists, dark trousers, and a broad hat, to guard against reflections interfering with the accuracy of his work.42 In order to continue working in nature during the winter, Albright constructed a glass studio at his Edison Park home. Although it turned out to be an impractical solution and was eventually enclosed on three sides, he continued to make use of one long wall of windows in colder months.43


From 1902 through 1916, Albright and his family spent their summers away from home, choosing among other places, Brown County, Indiana, Annisquam, Massachusetts, and Wales. Although he is associated with Brown County, Albright actually was there only part of one summer (1908) and made two other brief trips later in his career.44 Perhaps because the way of life in Brown County at the time was so similar to Albright’s subject matter, the artist continued to be associated with the area in many people’s minds long afterwards. He noted later that the citizens of Brown County, used to being called hillbillies by city dwellers, were at first reluctant to believe that he was depicting them in a positive way.45


Critics continued to praise Albright’s paintings in the second decade of the twentieth century, frequently noting his use of color improved from year to year. He spent winters thinking seriously about the coming outdoor months, sketching cozily by his fireplace. Albright commented “I don’t wait for an inspiration to come. It is wonderful what an aid to the imagination a pencil in hand and a little paper are. Then when spring comes, I look over my sketch book, select whatever appeals to me as best suited to my purpose, and proceed to hunt models.”46 Such hard work paid off with critical comments such as this one:


“Like the writer who polishes his English, and the pianist whose practice brings elegance to his playing, this artist’s experience and persistent efforts have attained a refinement in painting not formerly as evident. The composition is more closely woven together, the pigment given a richer texture, and details carefully regarded. While the brush seems freer, and the manner easy, the roguish child faces are painted as veritable portraits, although the little people themselves pass across the canvases in unconscious grace, as if they did not know that they were pictured.”47


In 1910, Albright spent the summer working in Wales, completing “nearly twenty canvases.”48 They were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists in October of that year, where they were praised both for their rich and harmonious color and for the greater development in the background. Another reviewer noted “in his paintings of Welsh children, he has embued them with a certain hardy self-control innate in the people of their country, but he does not rob them of the spontaneity of childhood.” In December 1910, the Kymry Society, a group of Welsh-Americans, honored Albright for his paintings of Welsh children.49


During the period Albright was exhibiting his paintings created in Wales, the press noted he was spending all of his time in Hubbard Woods, overseeing the construction of a larger log cabin. The family moved in by late 1910.50 Albright said he liked log cabins for their “distinctly American architecture.”51 Newspaper accounts of the construction reported that the roof shingles came from Indiana, while the logs were cut in Wisconsin. Albright’s decision to use clay from the Chicago River for filling the chinks in the logs was heralded in the press.52 In his autobiography, however, he confessed that in fact the Chicago River clay had not worked, as, when dry, it had shrunk from the wood. Because of all the publicity surrounding his importation of riverbed clay, Albright kept secret the fact that he had to refill the chinks using more traditional means.53


An active member of the Chicago art community, Albright served as president of two of the seventeen organizations to which he belonged, the Chicago Watercolor Club and the Chicago Society of Artists.54 His honors were numerous and included the William Frederick Grower Prize for a group of eight pictures at the 1907 Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists at the Art Institute of Chicago,55 the Martin B. Cahn Prize at the American Annual exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1908, and a purchase award by the St. Louis Art Museum in 1910 56. He aided in the organization of the traveling gallery of the Chicago Water Color Club and, in 1908, helped to establish an art in schools program. For the latter venture, Albright enlisted the participation of several arts organizations in placing one hundred paintings in rotating exhibitions in forty-five Chicago public schools. He stated:


“The art movement is more alive in Chicago than in any other part of the country. Just look over the ground and see what local artists are doing. We have four art societies—the Chicago Society of Artists, the Chicago Water Color Club, the Palette and Chisel Club and the Art Students’ League—working in harmony.”57


Albright was also an advocate for Chicago artists. In 1912, his protests about the lack of representation by Chicago artists in the Art Institute of Chicago’s American Annual won twenty-one slots for local artists.58


In mid-May 1912, the Hubbard Woods log studio was complete. In addition to the studio and family quarters, Albright built a small art gallery that was open daily to the public. In June 1912, the exhibition committee of the Municipal Art League, an organization consisting of arts clubs throughout the Chicago area, was one of the first groups to visit the studio and gallery.59 As with the Edison Park studio, Hubbard Woods soon became the frequent destination of art lovers. Although his usual habit was to spend the summer away from the area, in the summer of 1913, Albright remained in Hubbard Woods. Worried that encroaching development would soon mean the end of the woods, Albright wished to depict the area before it was gone forever. Because visitors to the studio were constant, Albright kept the fact that he was at home a secret to avoid unnecessary distractions.60


In 1912,61 1914, and 1915, Albright summered in Pennsylvania, visiting some of the places where his parents had lived, as well as painting. He appears to have visited the Blue Ridge Mountains during his 1914 trip as well, for the press reported “he had found much that is picturesque and suitable for painting in the valley of the ‘blue Juniata’ and among the Blue Ridge Mountains.”62 He spent the summer of 1915 working in the Allegheny Mountains, where he moved around rather than follow his usual custom of staying in one place.63 The backgrounds of the paintings created in Pennsylvania were singled out for praise that fall in Chicago, and it was noted the recent work showed “the evolution of color from the tonality in vogue several years ago, and the highly keyed color schemes of the present time.”64


Beginning in 1917, Albright began spending his winters elsewhere, in order to paint year-round. Albright, Clara, and sons Ivan and Malvin spent their first winter away in El Valle, Venezuela, a suburb of Caracas.65 The paintings Albright created in Venezuela were on view at his studio in Hubbard Woods in the fall of 1918. The Chicago Evening Post reported “With neither art schools nor artists to talk styles, Mr. Albright yielded to the spell of color and the romance of a strange world.”66 Over the next several years, Albright spent winters in California. Although he contemplated moving there for a time, he wrote in his autobiography that he eventually tired of the sameness of the weather.67


In 1924, Albright moved to Warrenville, Illinois, where his studio was a frame structure that had originally been a church. His sons Ivan and Malvin had adjoining studios and the three artists had many heated discussions about art.68 Despite their disagreements, Albright considered his sons to be two of the greatest artists working. Albright’s studio continued to be a destination for many art lovers. During this period, Albright was an active and successful real-estate investor. He noted that he had purchased “lots at six dollars a foot on the north shore, sold them for sixty.”69 Additionally, he received income from rental properties. He viewed his position as a landlord as a status symbol, for he wrote in his autobiography, “I am proud to be a landlord. The very name implies dignity and it should. If you own property, you are a stable, reliable citizen.”70


Albright was unusual among Chicago artists for being able to devote himself full-time to his artistic career. He was well aware of the disadvantage it was for an artist to earn recognition in Chicago:


“New York was a mecca for artists, dealers, exhibitions and, most valuable of all, art patronage. Thinking of buying a picture or an order for sculpture, the patron only stopped in Chicago to change trains on his way to New York. For years I was pretty much alone here in making a living exclusively by my art. Teaching or painting tomato can labels became a supplementary necessity for one and all.”71


Despite his own achievements, Albright would later advise young artists to find a way to live without being dependent on their art sales.72


Part of Albright’s success in selling his art must be attributed to his understanding of the importance of marketing both himself and his paintings. Thus, the hospitality for which he was so famed, first at his studio at Edison Park, later at his studio and gallery in Hubbard Woods, and finally at the converted church in Warrenville, served to introduce many people to his art. Once he settled on depicting country children with success, Albright did not change either his style or his subject matter in any significant way. Further, his cultivation of a lifestyle that had died out a generation before he adopted it in 1900, mirrored the subject matter of his paintings while appealing to people’s imaginations. Finally, Albright had a well thought-out pricing strategy. He raised prices every year on new paintings, while leaving the prices on paintings from earlier years unchanged. He noted that in this way, the paintings from prior years appeared inexpensive in comparison to newer pieces, thus encouraging people to buy before the prices became even higher.73


As he grew older, Albright’s conservative style became increasingly at odds with more modern art styles, something the artist was well aware of. But as the Great Depression began to take its toll, American scene painting was coming into the fore and for a while Albright found himself somewhat in favor again. His one man exhibition at the Chicago Galleries Association in 1933 was actually heralded by ardent supporter of modernism, critic C. J. Bulliet:


“In this day and age when ‘the American scene’ is becoming popular again, Albright will be found leading the artists back to the rustic spots, much as he led the boys a couple of Saturdays ago to the pond where the snapping turtles were plentiful.”74


Three years later his work was included in the annual exhibit of the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, who by this time comprised the older Chicago artists whose works were no longer readily accepted into the more “modern” annual exhibits at the Art Institute. He won one of the four top prizes for his work On the Raft (location unknown), a decided mark of his continued appeal.75


In 1938, he participated in the thirteenth exhibition of the All-Illinois Society of the Fine Arts, at which traditionalism appears to have been the theme, for a critic noted, “Here you will find ‘Sanity in art’ in its purest and most useless manifestation.”76 The Society for Sanity in Art, founded in 1937, was the brainchild of Mrs. Josephine Hancock Logan, a fanatical opponent of modernism.77 Albright’s own work, representational and composed of appealing subject matter, fit in well with the ideals of the movement. The same critic went on to single Albright’s work out, noting:


“Mr. Albright, not far from deanship [sic] of Chicago artists, has painted all his life barefoot boys with faces of tan and fishing poles in hands, and here is another, sitting fishing on the limb of a tree overlapping the water. Mr. Albright is an ‘institution,’ herewith exempt from all critical stricture. His barefoot boys are as ‘standard’ as the old water tower at Chicago avenue.”78


Again in 1946, a critic wrote that Albright was one of Illinois’ best “conservative painters, untouched by modern influences.”79


A traditionalist, Albright did not believe in “art for the artists’ sake” and did not think that art should be involved with intense inner emotion and unworldly things.80 Rather, he thought that the public should have the final word. He considered twentieth-century art to be in a decline and attributed the start of it in Chicago to the Armory Show, which had traveled from New York to the Art Institute in 1913.81 Albright believed the decision in 1918 to include modern art in the Art Institute’s galleries had been a mistake. He was also unhappy with the jury system in museums, stating “Artists are no longer the judges of their own or their fellows’ work, either for exhibition or award, but art directors and curators have become judges of Art Exhibits to the exclusion of all professionals!”82 Albright’s bluntness on the subject only increased over the years. In 1954, for example, he was quoted as saying, “They give you boiled squash with a mule’s foot on it and call that art.”83


In 1939, Clara Wilson Albright died at the age of 77. She was buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery, in Oakbrook Terrace, located between Chicago and Warrenville. In the ensuing years, Albright continued to spend much time with his sons, particularly with Malvin, taking extended road trips with him. His last exhibition, which also included the work of both artist sons, was held in 1950 in Rick Riccardo’s Studio Restaurant, a Chicago restaurant known for its exhibitions of contemporary art.84 On September 13, 1957, Albright died at his Warrenville home.

ENDNOTES

1 “Fine Exhibits are shown at the Art Institute: ‘Farmer-Artist’ and his Chief Canvas Now on Exhibition,” Chicago American, 10/3/1912, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 17, p.41. Albright had five one-person exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago alone. See the Albright entry in the biographical dictionary part of this book for a complete list of his exhibitions and prizes.
2 Adam Emory Albright, For Art’s Sake, (Chicago and Crawfordsville, IN: The Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 1953), p.10. (Hereinafter, Albright).
3 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.11.
4 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.18-44. He wrote in his autobiography, “Of course, it was too late to begin school so I just passed it up and found another job,” pp.35-36, and “I may have gone to school a little that winter,” p.43.
5 Op. cit., Albright, 1953. p.43.
6 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.51-54, 67. Clara Wilson’s father was a physician, and she attended the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
7 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.56-57, 60. He also took at least one class with Henry Fenton Spread, but he does not specify its subject matter. Student records for this period are incomplete and one for Albright does not exist.
8 Op. cit., Albright,1953, p.58.
9 Albright attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1884 until 1887. For this period, the archives of the Academy has information only about the years in which artists were enrolled; there exist no records regarding the classes students attended nor about their grades. Albright’s selection of the Academy was probably related to his family background in Pennsylvania.
10 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.64.
11 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.65.
12 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.66-67. Albright submitted oil paintings to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibition in 1884, 1887, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910. Peter Hastings Falk, compiler and editor, The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1989), Vol. II, 1876-1913, p. 65, Vol. III, 1914-1968, p. 65. Albright also submitted watercolors to the Annual Exhibition of Watercolors, Prints, and Drawings, a series not indexed in the published volumes. According to the Archives of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Albright exhibited in the 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1914 watercolor exhibitions.
13For information about his studies with Constant, see Catherine Fehrer, The Julian Academy Paris 1868-1939, (New York: Shepherd Gallery, Spring 1989), n.p. For information about Albright’s complete academic record, see Peter Hastings Falk, ed. Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Hundred Years of Artists in America (Madision, CT: Sound View Press, 1999), Vol. I, A-F, p. 74. See also: Aloysius George Weimer, The Munich Period in American Art, (Ph.D dissertation) (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1940), pp. 513-515, 516, 517, 649.
14 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.69-75.
15 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.76-77.
16 Albright later burned at least forty of the works he created in his early professional career, by his own admission, because he was dissatisfied with their quality. Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.84.
17 “Art And Artists: Art Notes,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Vol. XIX, No. 278, 12/28/1890, Part 2, p.12.
18 “Art Notes. Adam Emory Albright,” The Graphic, 11/7/1891, p.299.
19 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.86-88. Albright also noted that he subsequently chopped up the temperance painting. Albright was one of a minority of artists working outside of the East Coast who had work accepted in the fair. While New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had their own juries, submissions by artists living in the rest of the country were judged by a Chicago-based national jury, with the result that only about eight percent of American art at the fair was created by artists from the South, Midwest, and West. For more information regarding the selection process for Midwestern artists, see: Carolyn Kinder Carr and George Gurney, Revisiting the White City: American Art at the 1893 World’s Fair, (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1993), pp. 80, 118 (fn. 88); Lucy Monroe, “Chicago Letter,” The Critic, Vol. 22, No.579, 3/25/1893, pp.185-186; “Left Out in the West,” Chicago Herald, 7/12/1893, p.3; “World’s Fair Doings. The Art Jury Completes Its Work of Selection,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, 3/11/1893, p.5; “Few Western Paintings Taken. The Jury Quickly Disposes of a Great Number of Those Submitted,” Chicago Tribune, 3/8/1893, p.3.
20 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.97, and “Local Tone,” The Arts, Vol. 4, No. 3, September 1895, p.88.
21 Chicago Inter-Ocean, 6/4/1896, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 7, p.99. (Copy of complete newspaper unavailable).
22 “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 11/20/1898, part 4, p.36 (also available, Art Institute Scrapbooks, Vol. 10, p.65). The Reviewer noted Albright had recently completed a painting entitled “Wood and Ashes” about a street musician who died from want and a painting with the subject of a mother at the morgue discovering the body of her errant daughter. Other portrait work is noted in “Chicago Art and Artists,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 5/9/1897, p.35.
23 Ivan Le Lorraine was named for Claude Lorrain, and Malvin Marr’s middle name was given to him in honor of Albright’s teacher, Karl von Marr. When Ivan Albright discovered that his middle name had been misspelled, he stopped using it.
24 Chicago Inter-Ocean, 5/8/1897, Art Institute Scrapbook, Vol. 8, p.121. (Copy of complete newspaper unavailable).
25 Albright would have such private showings throughout his career. See for example: “Paintings on Exhibition: Artist Albright Introduced,” Chicago Chronicle, 1/13/1899, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook Vol. 10, p. 93 (microfilm reel missing at Chicago Public Library): “Mr. and Mrs. William Wallace Dresden of 521 West Adams street [sic] gave a large party at home last night, introducing A. E. Albright, the painter, and his work to Chicago society. The feature of the evening was the exhibition of a loan collection of oil paintings by Mr. Albright.”
26 For a discussion of images of both barefoot boys and newsboys in art see Sarah Burns, “Barefoot Boys and Other Country Children,” The American Art Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1988, pp.25-50.
27 Mark Van Doren, editor, Masterpieces of American Poets, (Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1936), p.165.
28 See, for example, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/19/1912, p.10, in which the writer notes, “Whittier’s ‘Barefoot Boy’ is the universal country boy, the boy that wins the artist’s heart.” Comparisons to Riley can be found in Marguerite B. Williams, “Barefoot Boy Theme of Albright’s Brush,” Chicago Illustrated News, 3/27/1920, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook Vol. 41, p.3; “A. E. Albright at The Artists’ Guild,” “News of the Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/5/1916, p.11 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook Vol. 35, p.42); Minnie Bacon Stevenson, “A Painter of Childhood,” The American Magazine of Art, Vol. 11, October 1920, p.432.
29 Adam Emory Albright, “Outdoor Painting,” Palette and Bench, Vol. 1, No. 11, August 1909, p.241.
30 See the Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 17: Chicago American, 10/3/1902, p.41; Chicago Inter-Ocean, 10/3/1902, p.42; Chicago Daily News, 10/3/1902, p.42; Chicago Evening Post, 10/4/1902, p.42, and Chicago Record-Herald, 10/5/1902, p.43.
31 Op. cit., Albright, p.109.
32 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/6/1912, p.4 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 29, p.39).
33 E. O. Laughlin, “Albright, Painter of Child-Life,” The Interior, 11/27/1902, pp.1531-2.
34 Op. cit., Laughlin, The Interior, 1902, p.1532.
35 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/18/1905, p.11 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 20, p.164).
36 Gardner Teall, “The Sunny Years: Illustrated by Adam Emory Albright’s Paintings of Childhood,” The Craftsman, Vol. 19, November 1910, pp.147-148.
37 Adam Emory Albright, “Art Notes,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 9/27/1896, p.31.
38 The Art Institute of Chicago has Albright’s collection of glass-plate photographs.
39 Op. cit., Albright, Palette and Bench, 1909, p.242.
40 Chicago Record-Herald, 10/5/1902, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 17, p.43. (Complete copy newspaper unavailable).
41 Mae J. Evans, “What Chicago Artists Have Accomplished This Summer,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, magazine section, 9/13/1908, p.2 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 24, p.62).
42 Op. cit., Albright, Palette and Bench, 1909, p.242. Albright noted he also eschewed both collars and cuffs.
43 Op cit., Albright, Palette and Bench, 1909, p. 242. Albright created a wooden model of a boy for the glass studio to pose for winter scenes, but he found the resulting paintings were too stiff. He wrote that a farmer mistook the wooden model for a real boy and “reported at the country store how ‘that painter feller’ was ‘treating children purty tough, lettin’ the little things stand still out in the weather.’ When the artist ‘carried him to the wagon he was ‘stiff with cold.’”
44 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/26/1908, p.4, and Mae J. Evans, “What Chicago Artists Have Accomplished This Summer,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 9/13/1908, Magazine Section, p.2. See also: Selma N. Steele and Wilbur D. Peat, The House Of the Singing Winds: The Life and Work of T.C. Steele, (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1966), p.131, as quoted from the Indianapolis News, 12/4/1908: “Indianapolis is not the only city that is learning the artistic side of Brown County. Several Chicago artists were among the county’s summer visitors. One of them, Emory Albright, has just won the prize at the Chicago Art Institute…” In 1926, Albright returned again to Brown County, well after it had been established as a popular retreat for tourists and artists. This trip was confirmed as his first since 1908 in “A. E. Albright Back from Brown County,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 8/31/1926, p.2. One more trip is documented in the fall of 1931 where he gave an old fashioned chicken dinner to artist friends in Brown County. See: “Old Fashion Chicken Dinner,” unknown newspaper clipping, 10/2/1931, Brown County Public Library, Albright file.
45 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.115. Albright states “it was always difficult for the people of Brown County to think much of the pictures of their ragged children… I was painting a picture of children gathering berries with little tin buckets, when a native passing, said, ‘Well, that ought to illustrate our poverty.’ At the end of the season, Clara put my summer pictures on view in the log house we occupied. It was not until they saw the pictures that they knew I was really depicting their rural beauty and the charm of simple life.”
46 Op. cit., Evans, Sunday Inter Ocean, 9/13/1908, Magazine Section, p.2.
47 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/19/1912, p.10.
48 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/24/1910, p.8 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 27, p.5).
49 Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 9/24/1910, p.8; H. Effa Webster, Chicago Examiner, 3/3/1911, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook Vol. 27, p.120 (Newspaper is unavailable on microfilm); Chicago Examiner, 12/7/1910, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 27, p.65; “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/10/1910, p.6 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 27, p.68).
50 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/5/1910, p.6 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook Vol. 27, p.42): “The foundations for the new log bungalow are laid, and the studio, with its capacious fireplace, will be under roof before winter.”
51 “Art Has Been Asleep in Chicago River Bed,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/24/1911, Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 27, p.136. A copy of the complete paper is unavailable.
52 Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 3/24/1911.
53 Op. Cit., Albright, 1953, p.122.
54 Albright was also the founder of the Chicago Water Color Club. See L. M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/8/1907, p. 16. Mae J. Evans, “What Western Artists Have Done In This Past Year,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 5/10/1908, Magazine Section, p.4.
55 A. G. Randolph, “Exhibition Of The Artists Of Chicago,” Brush and Pencil, Vol. 19, No. 2, February 1907, p.46.
56 The Municipal Art League sponsored Grower prize must have been all the more satisfying for Albright because he had placed second to Ralph Elmer Clarkson in 1906. See William M. R. French’s letter to Newton H. Carpenter, 2/14/1906 (French Letters, Ryerson and Burnham Library, Art Institute of Chicago), which discusses the 1906 competition and Albright’s unhappiness over Clarkson’s having brought in proxy votes from absent artists. For information about the Martin B. Cahn prize, see L. M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” The Chicago Evening Post, 11/14/1908, p. 4 and Peter Hastings Falk, ed., The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1888-1950 (Madison, CT: 1990), p. 21. Regarding The Saint Louis Art Museum’s purchase award, that museum has no records to document the award; however, the museum did purchase a painting by Albright, The Bow Knot, in that year. The Bow Knot was later stolen from their collection as noted by C. J. Bulliet, “Artless Comment,” Chicago Daily News, 3/17/1934, p. 6.
57 “Big Exhibition for Public Schools,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/23/1908, p.5 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 24, p.68).
58 Letter to Albright from William M. R. French, French letter files, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 10/23/1912, n.p. French wrote Albright that his “protests have had some effect” and requested a list of 20 artists, plus AEA, whose names Albright thought “would look well upon the circular of the Annual Exhibition. Also, how many Chicago artists would you put on, per year?”
59 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/6/1912, p.5. Albright was a member of the Municipal Art League.
60 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/11/1913, p.6 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 31, p.1).
61 Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/20/1912, p.5.
62 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 7/25/1914, p.6 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 32, p.25). See also “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/24/1914, p.8 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbook, vol. 32, p.33), which notes Albright had painted over twenty paintings in the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and “News of the Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/5/1916, p.11 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 35, p.42).
63 “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/11/1915, p.6 (also available in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbook, Vol. 33, p.52).
64 Chicago Evening Post, 9/30/1915, Art Institute of Chicago scrapbook, vol. 33, p.53.
65 Telephone interview with Tishy Albright Lins, Albright’s granddaughter, by Marianne Richter, 8/10/98. Tishy Albright, the daughter of Lisle, stated that her father had not gone with the family to Venezuela.
66 “Mr. Albright’s Surprise,” in “News of the Art World,” supplement, Chicago Evening Post, 10/29/1918, p.9. \
67 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.135.
68 Op. cit., Tishy Albright Lins, 1998.
69 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.150.
70 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.150.
71 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.93.
72 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.94-95.
73 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.110.
74 C. J. Bulliet, “Artless Comment: Art and Turtles,” Chicago Daily News, 11/4/1933, Art and Artists section, p.19. The last part of the quote referring to the turtles was used in a reference by Bulliet to illustrate Albright’s young at heart character, even at the advanced age of seventy-one.
75 C. J. Bulliet, “Around the Galleries: Chicago in Two Shows,” Chicago Daily News, 2/15/1936, Art, Antiques and The Artists section, p.4.
76 C. J. Bulliet, “Around the Galleries,” Chicago Daily News, 12/3/1938, p.24. Bulliet, a prominent Chicago art critic, was an advocate for modernism. His opinion of the All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts’ 13th exhibition also can be seen in his choice of subtitle for the review, “Sane, Safe and Useless.”
77 “Josephine Logan, Militant Leader Of The Right, Presents ‘Sane’ Art,” Art Digest, Vol. 13, 10/1/1938, p.7. The organization also published a book: Josephine Hancock Logan, Sanity in Art, (Chicago: A. Kroch, 1937).
78 Op. cit., Bulliet, Chicago Daily News, 12/3/1938.
79 Picture and Gift Journal, October 1946, p.20.
80 R. A. Lennon, “Albright, Painter of American Children,” Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 7/7/1925, pp.1, 4.
81 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, pp.155-156.
82 Op. cit., Albright, 1953, p.167.
83 “Adam Albright, 95, Artist in Chicago,” New York Times, 9/14/1957, p.19.
84 C. J. Bulliet, “Art in Chicago: Season for Veterans,” Art Digest, Vol. 24, 4/15/1950, p.26.