Frank Russell Wadsworth (1874-1905)
Please credit Illinois Historical Art Project and Author: Ronald G. Pisano (in loving memory) © Illinois Historical Art Project
William Merritt Chase portrait of Wadsworth
Relatively little is known about the personal life and artistic career of Francis (Frank) Russell
Wadsworth who died prematurely at the age of thirty-one while visiting Spain on a painting excursion. Even the cause of his death in 1905 is clouded in mystery, described only as “autumnal fever” in local obituaries. One thing is definite, however, he died at the height of his powers as an artist at a time when he was beginning to garner impressive prizes and awards for his work. In 1904, just a year before his death, he won the prestigious Young Fortnightly Club Prize of $100 for a painting he exhibited at the Chicago and Vicinity annual exhibition held at the Art Institute of Chicago. One critic astutely described Wadsworth as a young artist who paints “...in a manner in advance of his generation.” This comment echoed that of another writer who, just the previous year, confidently predicted: “Wadsworth is going a long way with his art, promising to command our attention for many years.” Sadly, fate denied Frank Wadsworth the opportunities of fulfilling this prophesy. However, in his short life, his talent flourished and his work was widely exhibited.
Wadsworth’s skills were developed early in his home town of Chicago, where he began his art studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. These skills were later sharpened under the tutelage of America’s master technician and ever-popular teacher William Merritt Chase, who became a close friend of the Wadsworth family and mentor to Frank. Wadsworth’s amazingly compact progress can be traced by the limited facts that have come to light about his training, his exhibition history and most importantly, his art. Based on the works mentioned in exhibition catalogues and reviews of his art during a brief career, it is likely he painted fewer than one hundred works. His paintings were exhibited in seven known cities: New York and Philadelphia on the East Coast; Nashville in the South; Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis in the Midwest and Chicago, where at least two- thirds of his known oeuvre was shown.
The facts of Wadsworth’s early life are particularly scant, leaving large gaps that can only be filled by supposition, or left unresolved. He was born Francis Russell Wadsworth, in Chicago, in 1874 (the exact date of his birth is still unknown) -- the only child of Dr. Francis L. Wadsworth and Sarah Robinson Wadsworth (originally of Pawtucket, Rhode Island). The only other member of the immediate family was Frank’s stepbrother Charles, Dr. Wadsworth’s son by a previous marriage. As a professor of physiology, histology and theory and practice of medicine at Woman’s Medical College in Chicago, Dr. Wadsworth was a prosperous and well regarded member of the community.
By 1895, and quite possibly earlier, the family lived in Oak Park, located on the western border of Chicago. At the time of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the population of Oak Park was a mere 500 residents; by 1890, the population had grown to 4,589. This quiet and relatively affluent community had a variety of social clubs (most of which met at the Scoville Institute) and a respectable public school system, which, by the time Wadsworth was eligible, had classes through high school. Whether or not he attended public school is unknown. Importantly though, at the early age of thirteen, Wadsworth began his formal study of art, enrolling in the “elementary class” at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1887. His interest in art might have been inspired by that of his mother, as she too painted (as noted in subsequent accounts of their travels abroad). Art Institute professor Frederick Warren Freer (1849-1908), whose father was a doctor, was a pallbearer at Dr. Wadsworth’s funeral, may have also encouraged the parents to begin formal training for and artistically inclined boy. After only one month (October) Wadsworth left the Art Institute, not returning until eight years later, in 1895 (at age twenty-five). Just what caused this abrupt termination of art studies remains a mystery. It is clear though, he had advanced considerably during these eight years, undoubtedly the result of private instruction in drawing and watercolor, for he re-enrolled in the Art Institute at the “academic level.” This time, Wadsworth quickly demonstrated his skills in the classes he took: portrait and figure drawing; study from the nude and still life and head, this last course probably serving as his introduction to oil painting. All of these courses were taken in the amazingly brief period of eight months in 1895, from February through June, and during the fall term October through December. He earned seven monthly honorable mentions in the eight months he studied. Earlier that same year, Wadsworth exhibited for the first time at the Art Institute, having his watercolor August, accepted in the annual exhibition of watercolors and pastels by American artists. Exhibition records show his address was still Oak Park.
The Summer of 1895, while between class sessions, he and his mother traveled east to visit relatives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. During this trip, he sketched local scenes in watercolor, exhibiting three of these works the following spring in the same American watercolors exhibit (which had been expanded to include miniatures). As a result, he received his first critical review with one writer singling out his three watercolors as “...the daintiest and most pleasing watercolors shown.” Particular mention was given to his Street in Pawtucket, R. I., described as having “lovely color and soft atmosphere.”
In spite of this early recognition, Wadsworth was no doubt keenly aware of the need to continue his art studies. In the summer of 1896, he and his mother traveled to Madrid to view the treasures of the Prado Museum, particularly the masterful paintings of Velázquez. Great works of art were scarce in American art museums. Art students who could afford to make the trip abroad to study the masters in the major museums of Europe were encouraged to do so. En route, the two travelers apparently stopped in Rhode Island, where Wadsworth completed more sketches of local scenes. That summer, William Merritt Chase was also in Madrid conducting a class there for his American students. Wadsworth certainly had to be familiar with Chase’s impressive reputation as an esteemed teacher and with the critical acclaim his work received when exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. And he most likely would have been aware of the widely publicized Chase class, so it is most likely he and his mother joined the group at some point (certainly they could have afforded the modest fee to do so). Unfortunately, no class roster survives, but Wadsworth lists studying with Chase in a short biography in an exhibition catalogue at the Art Institute. It would have been nearly impossible for Wadsworth and his mother not to have encountered the Chase class somewhere in the Spanish capital, most likely at the Prado where Chase gave lectures and painting demonstrations. In a letter to Walter Pach some years later on the eve of another trip to Madrid Wadsworth was emphatic about the Spanish museum, “No one who is interested in art in any way can afford to miss an opportunity to see it. I would rather see it than all the other galleries in the world put together.”
After returning to Chicago in the fall, Wadsworth resumed classes at the Art Institute and showed Still Life (presumably an oil painting) at the Institute’s annual exhibit of painting and sculpture by American artists. This work was praised in the local press as “...being in line with the earlier promise of the man.” It was probably the same painting shown at the annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Cosmopolitan Club in Chicago, the following year, 1897, which turned out to be a very active year for exhibiting his work. There were several exhibitions where his works were accepted: the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, Nashville (his first international competition); the annual exhibition of the Society of Western Artists (beginning in late 1896, which circuited to St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Detroit and Cleveland) and the three annual Art Institute of Chicago shows including the American Exhibition of Water-Colors, Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists and Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists. Aside from Still Life, all the works he exhibited during this period were works on paper, mostly watercolors.
Although Wadsworth achieved considerable success in a very short time with his watercolors, he must have felt the need to develop his skills in oil painting. Who better to instruct him in this medium than the masterful technician William Merritt Chase? When Chase returned from Madrid after the summer of 1896, he resigned from his post as leading instructor of the Art Students League (having served in this capacity since 1878), citing dissatisfaction with what he considered to be a growing conservative element in the school. He and a number of his advanced students then formed their own school, the Chase School of Art - a more progressive and cosmopolitan school, based loosely on the practices and methods of the Académie Julian in Paris. This attempt to capture the bohemian atmosphere of the art community in the Latin Quarter of Paris was the brainchild of Chicagoan Lawton Parker (1868-1954), who was also at the Art Institute in 1887.
Parker had been both a former student of Chase and had attended the Académie Julian. Other former Chase students who took an active role in the formation of the school were Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952) and Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930). From the start, Chase’s great popularity as a teacher insured the success of the school. Almost immediately they had to find larger quarters and expand staff to accommodate the growing enrollment. It should be no surprise that Wadsworth would have been attracted to this exciting, new and highly publicized venture, later described as “the beginner’s Mecca and the advanced student’s salvation.” Wadsworth enrolled in the Chase School of Art in the fall of 1897, its second year of operation.
Wadsworth entered the school as an advanced student with an impressive exhibition record, though it was almost exclusively focused on watercolors. He had much to learn with regard to oil painting. According to one contemporary account, men’s life class was composed of “two advanced students to every beginner, making it all the more challenging.” While studying painting in New York, Wadsworth’s work was accepted by the Society of American Artists in 1898, and he continued to exhibit his watercolors at the annual Chicago and Vicinity shows, obviously not wanting to loose the momentum he had established the year before. Two reviews of the Chicago exhibitions, both dated February 6, 1898, must have been gratifying to him. One glowing report referred to his contribution as “...an alluring group of sparkling watercolors,” the other praised his work for it’s “...delicacy of coloring and freshness of subject.” His subjects were wide-ranging, including scenes of Madrid done in 1896, one of Harlem, Illinois (adjacent to Oak Park) and a just completed view of Park Avenue, New York. This exhibition would, however, mark his last showing until four years later in 1902. In spite of his continued success and encouraging reviews, Wadsworth suddenly stopped sending works to exhibitions. What could explain this unexpected gap of three years?
Regarding Wadsworth’s mysterious disappearance and subsequent reappearance on the exhibition circuit, one thing is clear -- he left a water colorist and reemerged a plein air landscape painter, working almost exclusively in oil. It is likely Wadsworth became disenchanted with the watercolor medium, for the most part considered less important than oil painting, and often relegated to its own place in exhibitions and catalogues. Few artists, with the notable exceptions of John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer, had achieved special notoriety as artists in watercolor; even Sargent and Homer were painters in oil as well. Therefore, Wadsworth almost certainly devoted these three non-exhibiting years to becoming a new artist entity -- and he succeeded. Although records for his studies at this time are virtually nonexistent, there is evidence to suggest he spent a least one additional year at Chase’s school in New York in 1898, by this time renamed the “New York School of Art.” It is quite possible Wadsworth was there additional years during this period as well. He also attended the Chase Shinnecock Summer School of Art, where he is documented as being a class member the summers of 1901 and 1902, although it is likely he also studied at Shinnecock in years previous.
This school at Shinnecock is now considered the first major organized school of plein-air painting in America. Established in 1891, with Chase as its director and primary instructor, it was nestled in the rolling sands dunes of Shinnecock Hills, just west of Southampton, New York. Chase’s summer school was not only an important spawning ground for the next generation of American Impressionist painters, it also provided all the of the amenities of a seaside resort. To the north was Peconic Bay and to the south Shinnecock Bay, with the Atlantic Ocean not far beyond. Chase’s teaching studio was situated in the midst of the “Art Village” where many of the students boarded in charming shingled cottages. Chase’s own grand summer home, designed by his friend the noted architect Stanford White, was several miles west, at a location which insured him and his family of privacy. Regular activities of the students varied from year to year, but for the most part students painted in the open-air all week, with Chase occasionally stopping by to give advice. Mondays were reserved for criticisms as the students gathered in the teaching studio to hear Chase’s often witty comments and always sound advice. As many as a hundred students sat anxiously awaiting his judgement on their paintings each week. Chase also gave regular lectures on art and painting demonstrations in which he would deftly display his own technical prowess as a means of teaching his pupils the skills of painting and providing them with inspiration. Aside from the regular activities, students would organize their own dances, tableaux vivants and similar festive events. Some of Chase’s illustrious Shinnecock students included Joseph Stella (1880-1946), Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) and Edmund W. Greacen (1877-1949) - the latter two were classmates of Wadsworth in the 1901 class.
While at Shinnecock, Wadsworth and his mother (who seemed to always accompany him) formed a close friendship with the Chase’s who became their extended family. The Chase family included nine children and must have played a special role in the life of Wadsworth, who grew up as an only child. There is no question that this special relationship between Chase and Wadsworth was exceptional, well beyond the normally kind and nurturing Chase. Over the years the relation became a mentor/protégé association as well. For his part, Wadsworth was not only exceptionally talented, but quick to grasp Chase’s principles without slavishly copying his style, as can be seen in his paintings of Shinnecock Hills, which he began exhibiting in Chicago in 1902.
Art lovers and collectors in Chicago had first been introduced to the beauty of the Shinnecock landscape through Chase’s paintings of the area that were included in a major solo exhibition at the Art Institute in 1897. This was followed in December by Studies by Students of William M. Chase’s Summer School at Shinnecock Hills, L. I. In addition, Chase contributed Shinnecock landscapes to the American Annual exhibitions of 1901. As a result, both critics and public were familiar with Shinnecock subjects and, quite naturally, compared Wadsworth’s paintings to those of Chase. “It is evident that Mr. Wadsworth has been a pupil of William M. Chase,” one critic observed, “but he is in no instance a servile imitator of his master.” Chicago artist and noted art critic James William Pattison (1844-1915), who was particularly knowledgeable about Chase’s plein-air subjects and later wrote an important article about Chase, further educated Chicagoans about the nature of the Shinnecock Summer School of Art. Pattison provided verbal accompaniment to Wadsworth’s paintings:
“Shinnecock Hills, L.I., is the seat of the summer art school of William M. Chase. We can form an idea of the lay of the land from some real good pictures by Wadsworth. Roads amid tangled vegetation, which spreads itself over the undulations of that sandy waste, simply mount up to the top of the slight rise, ending in the sky…It is because there is nothing to paint there and because the land was of no use for any other purpose, that an art school was established.”
As Pattison further explained, it was Chase’s stand that a true artist should be able to take such uncompromising subject matter and transform it into something beautiful by way of the brush - to present it in a manner that would be appealing to the eye. This was the challenge and in Pattison’s estimation, Wadsworth had succeeded in his artistic mission, “Wadsworth does this thing well because he knows how to make atmosphere and distance and secure good color.” It is surprising none of the Chicago critics mentioned Wadsworth’s three year absence from the Chicago exhibition circuit, nor his very obvious change from painting small delicate watercolors to large, boldly executed oil paintings.
Although few of Wadsworth’s paintings of Shinnecock Hills and the surrounding area have been located, it is clear from looking at his The Horseless Carriage (Illinois Historical Art Project), he had mastered the technique of plein-air painting. The subject of an automobile driven down a sandy road near Southampton is painted in a strong light and candid snap-shot like manner. Blurred forms of the figures in the automobile suggest motion of the vehicle. Furthermore, it is a modern subject; the automobile had just been introduced to the area by the wealthy, fashionable set that frequented the summer resort. An automobile chugging along the road would have created a great deal of excitement and even pandemonium in this otherwise small country village predominantly made up of farmers and fishermen.
Although modern subject matter was embraced by the French Impressionists and espoused by many of their American counterparts, Chase very consciously avoided painting the products of modern inventions and industry, and when he did, such images were reduced to minor compositional elements such as smoke stacks on the horizon. On the other hand, Chase encouraged his students to see things differently and to focus on different subject matter from different vantage points. The Horseless Carriage was a daring departure for Wadsworth who through his skill and highly self-confident manner succeeded in painting this modern vehicle. The automobile is the primary subject of the painting and is presented approaching the viewer, leaving a trail of smoke and dust in its wake. Its forward motion is kept in check by the bold painterly foreground and the strong diagonal strokes of paint which form the sand road leading to the horizon line. Figures of two women alongside the road serve to mark space, as a horse and carriage traveling in the opposite direction can barely be made out on the road behind the automobile.
Wadsworth had also begun to explore figurative painting. Several of his works show women in contemplative mood over a book or letter, the dark figure dashed by a ray of sunlight from a window. The earliest of these works was shown at the Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists early in 1903. Another was shown the next month at O’Brien’s Art Gallery in Chicago. Critic Lena McCauley commented on these pieces by saying:
“In contrast to these [landscape work] are several figure studies low in tone, with careful painting of shadows and textures and a regard for arrangement that is truly astonishing considering the aggressive brushwork that the artist has presented to the public of late seasons.”
Wadsworth sent more paintings of Shinnecock to the Society of American Artists and Society of Western Artists, as well as to Chicago for exhibition in 1903.
Some critics commented on the lack of poetry in these landscapes, although not necessarily in a negative sense. “People who love pretty work need not apply here,” Pattison advised his readers. It was an apt warning. Wadsworth, like Chase, had to believe it was through technique, the masterful manipulation of the pigment, that the beauty of a painting was revealed and appreciated. This single concept was an extension of James McNeill Whistler’s dictum “art for art’s sake,” although Chase and other American Impressionists applied this philosophy with more vigor and a more highly keyed palette than Whistler. Pattison seemed to grasp this and tried to explain it to the public on a somewhat elementary level: “The color is very broken and degraded, and still decidedly lively and true to nature... Near at hand, the canvas conveys no impression of form, but at some paces off the forms come together.” In a similar vein, understanding the advanced nature of Wadsworth’s work, another writer observed that his paintings were “...favorites with art students and more and more appreciated as they are studied.” In general, the critics responded favorably to Wadsworth’s vivid color and vigorous brushwork, although they were sometimes almost apologetic in their praise of his work to their readers because the majority of them preferred the more harmonious and poetic paintings of the tonalist painters then in vogue. His work was praised as vibrant affording a “striking contrast” to others:
“An Italian Garden gives a vision of brilliant flower borders and a pergola in the distance. There is a prim conventional garden with clipped hedges and blazing blossoms which make vivid patches of color. From across the gallery the colors are not too daring and the novelty gives [much] to the array of paintings.”
Probably the most outstanding of comments was made by art critic and painter Henry Charles Payne who spoke of Wadsworth’s mastery over his peers at the 1903 Chicago artists exhibition:
“I believe that these pictures, taken as a whole, represent a more expert art of painting than any single collection of works in this exhibit…there is a splendid masculine vigor of execution, a fine directness in the terms employed that places this group of pictures in a class by themselves. There is a certainty, a large fluency of brush work, a vividness in the impression of time and place, a truth of planes and of aerial perspective, that at the proper distance creates a most striking illusion.”
The Shinnecock scenes exhibited by Wadsworth in 1903 were the last products of the summer school which closed its doors in 1902, after eleven years. Chase had felt he accomplished his goal of disseminating the principles of plein-air painting to the next generation of American landscape painters. Besides, similar schools had been formed throughout the country and it was time for Chase to move on. As early as 1899, Chase had discovered the charm of Bristol, Pennsylvania, located on the Delaware Canal. Chase continued to teach painting en plein-air, taking his students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on spring expeditions to Bristol. Chase was particularly drawn to the shimmering reflections on the water of the Delaware Canal and the bold diagonals of the canal walls. Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), a Chase student who attended this class, recalled:
“It was still the order of the day to strive for the completion of a painting in a single sitting... With the arrival of spring, we went out into the country around Philadelphia to paint farmhouses in the midst of fields, buildings reflected in the placid water of the canal, or bits of woodland. Since our panels were small and what we required of a picture was very slight we often returned at the end of the day with quite a harvest.”
The author is indebted to Joel Dryer of the Illinois Historical Art Project who provided much of the references for this essay.
Lena M. McCauley, Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/28/1905, p.9.
William Vernon, “New Stars Rise in Chicago Art Firmament,” Chicago Examiner, 1/29/1904, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 19, p.107. (Issues of the Chicago Examiner are not housed in the Chicago Public Library, the primary source for defunct newspapers)
James W. Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 10/31/1903, p.4.
Charles F. Wadsworth was a dentist. An obituary for a Dr. Charles F. Wadsworth of Evanston, Illinois, has been located in the Chicago Tribune, 1/10/1950, Part 2, p.6.
Details about Dr. Francis L. Wadsworth’s career provided by the Illinois Historical Art Project: Annual Announcement, (Chicago: Woman’s Medical College of Chicago, 1880-1890), courtesy of Allegheny University of the Health Sciences.
Information about the history of Oak Park provided by the Illinois Historical Art Project, courtesy of “A History of Oak Park, Beginnings/Era of Growth,” Oak Park Historical Society, copyright 1996, update 1997.
“Dr. Francis L. Wadsworth,” Chicago Tribune, 8/28/1891, p.3. School records of the Art Institute of Chicago do not show with whom Frank Wadsworth received instruction.
Matriculation records, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is also listed in the Art Institute of Chicago circulars for 1895 and 1896 as taking the antique class.
Op. cit., Matriculation records, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1895-1896.
All references to works exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago have been drawn from: Peter Falk, editor, The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1888-1950, (Madison, CT: Soundview Pres, 1990) p.922.
“Society,” Chicago Times-Herald, 4/17/1896, p.8.
Op. cit., Chicago Times-Herald, 4/17/1896, p.8.
Op. cit., Vernon, Chicago Examiner, 1/29/1904.
Catalogue of the Ninth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 10/20/1896), p.47.
For extended information on Chase’s various classes abroad see: Ronald G. Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, (Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1983).
Letter to Walter Pach from Frank R. Wadsworth, 3/2/1905, Archives of American Art, microfilm reel 4216, frame 746.
“The Arts,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 10/25/1896, Part 4, p.35.
“The New York School of Art,” The Sketch Book, April 1904, Vol. 3, No. 8, p.219.
Although there are no known student records, he evidently enrolled in Chase’s “Men’s Life Class” that Fall and Winter of 1897/98, as his presence is documented by a photograph of the class in the William Merritt Chase Archives, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York.
Spencer H. Coon, “The Work of William M. Chase as Artist and Teacher,” Metropolitan Magazine, May 1897, Vol. 5, No. 4, p.312.
“Art,” Chicago Times-Herald, 2/6/1898, Part 3, p.27.
“Fine Works in Oils,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 2/6/1898, p.17. Wadsworth’s watercolors were compared favorably to those of Hardesty G. Maratta, ten years his senior, and already a noted aquarellist.
William Merritt Chase’s Portrait of Frank Wadsworth (private collection), was first exhibited by Chase at the Carnegie Institute in 1899, suggesting that it was done the previous year. Mrs. Wadsworth states in her will that the painting was done in Chase’s studio at Shinnecock Hills, which suggests that Wadsworth attended Chase’s summer school as early as 1898. Documentation for his presence in 1901 consists of his signature being included on a list of students who signed a letter to Chase the end of that summer dated 9/20/1901. See: William Merritt Chase Archives, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY. His presence at Shinnecock the summer of 1902 is documented by photographs in the William Merritt Chase Archives; see op. cit., Pisano and Longwell, Photographs from the William Merritt Chase…, 1992, no. 149. Wadsworth is seated in the foreground, with his mother in a chair behind him; no. 141, shows Chase’s portrait of him on the floor of the studio; nos. 573-598 represent photos of Chase paintings descended in the Wadsworth family, including a number of demonstration pieces by Chase, undoubtedly photographed by Wadsworth, identified and dated 1902.
For a full account of the Shinnecock Summer School of Art see: Ronald G. Pisano, The Students of William Merritt Chase, (Huntington, NY: Heckscher Museum, 1973), and op. cit., Pisano, A Leading Spirit…
Sunday Record-Herald, 2/9/1902, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 15, p.82. (The Sunday Record-Herald was not microfilmed by the Chicago Public Library and originals were destroyed.)
James William Pattison, “William Merritt Chase, N. A.,” The House Beautiful, Vol. 25, February 1909, pp.50-52, 56.
James W. Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 2/22/1902, p.4.
Op. cit., Pattison, Chicago Journal, 2/22/1902, p.4.
Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/21/1903, p.6.. Similar works are located in the collections of the Union League Club, Vanderpoel Art Association and R. H. Love Galleries, all in Chicago.
Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/25/1905, p.8.
Op. cit., Pattison, Chicago Journal, 10/31/1903, p.4.
Op. cit., Pattison, Chicago Journal, 10/31/1903, p.4.
Edward G. Holden, “In the Field of Art,” “Landscapes,” Chicago Tribune, 2/8/1903, Part 3, p.17.
Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/14/1903, p.8.
Henry Charles Payne, “Sense And Sentiment In the Work Of Chicago Artists,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 2/22/1903, Magazine section, p.4.
Constance Rourke, Charles Sheeler, Artist in the American Tradition, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1969), p.22.
The spring of 1903, Wadsworth also traveled to Bristol, presumably joining Chase’s class. In 1904, Wadsworth contributed two paintings of the area to the Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists at the Art Institute. He was now living in Chicago, at the hotel Wisconsin, almost certainly with his mother, after moving from Oak Park in 1902. Little is known about these unlocated works beyond black and white photographs of them. One, Along the Canal, Bristol, Penn., presents a rather conventional view of old houses bordering serene water; the other, Outlet Lock, Old Canal, Bristol, Penn., is a bolder and more dynamic composition, a harbinger of more daring work soon to follow.[i]
In June 1903, Wadsworth traveled to Holland to join, yet again, Chase’s summer class, “The Chase Class in Holland.” This was the first of Chase’s regularly scheduled summer classes abroad, supplanting his classes at Shinnecock. The format was based on that of the Shinnecock School, described in an article written the following year:
“It was, in truth, the Shinnecock school transplanted - plus the study of the old masters. The Monday morning art talk and criticisms from the board, the easel criticisms, the lectures, the occasional painting before the class by Mr. Chase, all reminds one of Shinnecock.”[ii]
The group included forty students, plus ten additional members who were either relatives or friends. Wadsworth, then twenty-nine, was once again accompanied by his mother. Other students on the trip who became well known painters included Eugene Paul Ullman (1887-after 1947), Morton Schamberg (1881-1918) and Walter Pach (1883-1958).[iii] Pach recorded daily activities in his diaries, noting that the group met Chase on July 4th in Haarlem where the class was to be held.[iv] Chase had prepared an Independence Day fete, complete with American flags, as a welcoming party. During the class session, Chase painted three demonstration pieces before his students, two figure pieces and a still life, which were then raffled off to three lucky students. Chase’s impressive connections enabled the group to see the private collection of the celebrated Hague School painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag and visit the studio of his colleague Josef Israels.[v] The students also studied the work of Frans Hals at the Hals Museum in Haarlem, a main reason for conducting the classes in Haarlem. They also visited museums in Amsterdam and the Hague. Equally important, as noted in the school brochure, was “an opportunity to study a most picturesque landscape, flat and low- lying, intersected by numerous canals and dotted with windmills.”[vi]
On clear days, students painted out of doors and on rainy days a model was provided in a studio. The cost of the two month session was about $345, depending upon ship accommodations. By this time the Wadsworths had become very close friends with the Chase family. Chase had even hoped his wife Alice, would send their daughter “Cosy” over with Frank and his mother, but this did not happen. He wrote home to his wife that Mrs. Wadsworth was “...as enthusiastic as any of the young pupils over what she finds here.”[vii] When the overzealous Mrs. Wadsworth hurt her ankle on the trip, it was Chase who came to her rescue, giving her a jar of Pond Extract as a balm.[viii] While visiting the Hals Museum, the students posed for a group photograph in which Wadsworth appears standing next to his seated mother.[ix]
The trip gave Wadsworth his first chance to apply his newly perfected skills in plein-air painting to the picturesque scenery of a foreign land. As Chase expressed it:
“The mere change of surroundings to a novel environment enlivens a pupil, and when he gets down to work the fact that he is in a foreign land, where foreign artists are liable at any time to call and see what he is doing, exerts a lively effect on his ambition.”[x]
This was most definitely the case for Wadsworth who returned home with an impressive crop of paintings, a selection of which dominated his contributions to the 1904 Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by American Artists and Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists. Most importantly, these works gained wide notice. Although the Chicago art critics had previously recognized and acknowledged Wadsworth’s contributions to the city art scene, it took a trip abroad and the display of his magnificent group of paintings to fully open their eyes to his genius and proudly claim him a native son. Critic William Vernon described Wadsworth as “comparatively unknown in Chicago” and provided his readers with an account of his career as an artist in an article titled “New Stars Rise in Chicago Firmament.”[xi] Vernon also dubbed Wadsworth “...a painter from Paintersville, and that is Chicago, for this Western city is fast gaining a reputation, if not as an art center, at least as an artist making center.”[xii] Significantly, he also commented on the importance of American artists traveling abroad for inspiration, giving as examples several other Chicago painters including Lawton Parker and Frederick Frieseke (1874-1939), both former students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. On one level, this seems to have been a plea against provincialism. Another astute art critic, Lena M. McCauley, held a similar point of view, claiming: “If the student is so fortunate as to go abroad he gains a brief period of inspiration and returns to work out what he has learned mid uncongenial and unfamiliar surroundings.”[xiii] Yet another critic commented on Wadsworth’s grouping in the Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists: “…teeming with bright color… eight other canvases… cover a wide range and, taken in their entirety, they are the most individual in the collection.”[xiv]
Among the thirteen paintings Wadsworth exhibited at these two important shows in 1904, the great majority were done in Holland the previous Summer, including two which received the greatest attention, Wharf of Red Boats, Haarlem (shown at the American Annual) and Windmill, Adrian, Haarlem (shown at the Chicago Artists). Wharf of Red Boats, Haarlem (Union League Club of Chicago), was by far the more controversial of the two paintings.[xv] The work was judged to be shocking in its boldness. One critic described it as being “...by far the most conspicuous work in the show,” yet defended it as being a “...picture of considerable strength, rich in color, and broadly treated.”[xvi] Another critic said its hanging beneath a reserved painting from the tonal palette of William Wendt (1865-1946) was a “grievous error.”[xvii] The contrast between the two works was both overwhelming and distracting. The critic pondered:
“One wonders whether the reserved melodies of [Wendt’s painting] are dulled by its proximity to the flaming color of the Wadsworth or whether the tints of the other are rendered more crude on account of its intimacy with the low keyed gem above.”[xviii]
Viewing Wharf of Red Boats, Haarlem, today, it is clearly evident nearly any painting would have suffered from being hung near it. The work is a tour de force, with a broad open foreground and bold sweeping diagonals and curling lines drawing the viewer swiftly into the picture plane. The force is nearly overwhelming, anchored only by the bright reddish surfaces of the boats moored in the foreground, which are themselves reinforced by the red rooftops of the bordering houses. Such a device is one not characteristic of the Dutch painters, but often utilized effectively by Chase.[xix] Wadsworth’s painting in no way suffers by comparison and surely must have impressed his mentor Chase. It is unquestionably, a masterwork by Wadsworth, on par with the best American landscape painters of the period. And although it took Chicago a short while to fully appreciate its qualities, it was singled out by one New York critic as being one of the six best paintings by Western artists in the American annual show.[xx]
Wadsworth won his first major award, the Young Fortnightly Club Prize of $100, for the more conventional and certainly less disconcerting painting Windmill, Adrian, Haarlem. Although not the top dollar prize offered in the Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists (the Municipal Art League purchase prize of $250 was awarded to Adolph Shulz for his painting Frost and Fog), it was the oldest and hence the most prestigious award of the day. The club was given first opportunity to choose their winning painting due to the seniority they held among organizations providing prizes. The previous year, the very popular and well established Chicago painter John C. Johansen (1876-1964) had won the Young Fortnightly Club Prize. According to at least one critic, Wadsworth’s work was a “...fit follower of Johansen’s great landscape.”[xxi] Although Windmill, Adrian, Haarlem, is presently unlocated, it was illustrated in the press and described by a critic:
“It is a typical Dutch scene - a river front, or a section of a canal, its dark water mottled with vibrant shadows in the foreground, the rallying point of interest the large square, gnomelike wings of the mill rising from a quaint old factory, which is set in the nest of bright-orange buildings.”[xxii]
The third major award at the Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists was for the best “group” of paintings by one artist (rules of the exhibit limited accepted entries by an artist to no more than ten works, Wadsworth was represented by nine). The award, a silver medal designed by Julia Bracken (1871-1942) sculptress and later wife of William Wendt, was voted on members of the Chicago Society of Artists. The selection was narrowed down to five artists: Adolph Shulz (1869-1963), Jules R. Mersfelder (1865-1937), Ralph Elmer Clarkson (1861-1942), Johansen and Wadsworth, who appeared to be the major contender. Critic James W. Pattison proclaimed: “All about the galleries we find rugged landscapes by Wadsworth, and they are in the greatest variety, not pretty, but furiously abandoned in bold handling.”[xxiii] Lena M. McCauley concurred: “[Wadsworth’s] nine paintings stand out from the general mass through force of original handling - yet on the whole they are neither conspicuous nor striking.”[xxiv] A third writer summarized: “Perhaps among all the exhibitors, Mr. Wadsworth has covered the widest range of subjects, and each fresh picture bearing his signature is a surprise… All are swiftly swept in with a broad brush that fairly drips paint.”[xxv] One might surmise that if the choice had been left to the critics, Wadsworth would have been a clear winner. The members however, chose John C. Johansen. It might be argued that the little-known Wadsworth had less chance pitted against Johansen, the well established painter and Art Institute of Chicago instructor who was also well connected to the Chicago elite through his portrait work. When the voting was completed, Pattison explained that Johansen had just the winning blend of artistic qualities in his work, or at least a blend that was not controversial like Wadsworth’s bold paintings. According to Pattison, Wadsworth’s paintings were “severely literal as regards truth of statement, seen with exactness and handled with remarkable force, and directness, but there is little suggestion of sentiment in treatment.”[xxvi]
In contrast, Johansen’s landscapes managed to have a sentimental quality while remaining fairly true to nature. Forced to lean to one side or the other, Johansen charted the more successful route. It is important to note, however, that ballots were cast six times before Johansen won a majority of the votes, the runner up was Wadsworth.[xxvii] Wadsworth had to be satisfied with his strong showing. Although some considered his colors too strong, his brushwork too bold, his compositions too daring and, most importantly, his subjects lacking poetry, advanced critics generally saw these as positive traits: “They are full of strong color, and possess the spirit of youth, and he converts in several of them the strictly ugly into the picturesque.”[xxviii]
A May 1904 article highlighted the activities of Chase’s class the previous year in Holland and featured one of Wadsworth’s paintings as an illustration;[xxix] details of Chase’s upcoming summer class to England were provided at the end of the article. The article also mentioned visits of special interest to the studios of famous artists, including John Singer Sargent, and tours of the National Gallery, where Chase maintained “...the characteristics of the various schools of painting - Spanish, Dutch, Italian, etc. ...can be compared...better than in any other gallery, without exception.”[xxx] Surely Wadsworth would have been interested in joining this summer class, but there is no record of him doing so. It appears he remained home during 1904, tending to more practical matters related to exhibiting his work.
During the 1904-1905 periods, he greatly extended the exhibition range for his paintings, a task which no doubt involved considerable effort and coordination. Aside from his usual participation in Chicago shows, he had paintings accepted in the annuals of: the Cincinnati Art Museum (1905); the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1904 and 1905); the St. Louis Art Museum American Annual (1904) and the Universal Exposition (Louisiana Purchase), St. Louis (1904). Both Wadsworth and Johansen won bronze medals at the renowned Universal Exposition. Wadsworth was also invited to serve on the jury for the Art Institute American Annual, October 20 - December 27, 1904.[xxxi] Obviously the responsibilities associated with the jury process began long before the show opened, presenting a time table that made going to England difficult if not impossible. In fact, it is likely Wadsworth completed few paintings at all in 1904, given that the limited number of works he showed at the Chicago and Vicinity exhibition of 1905, were all from previous travel in Holland and Pennsylvania.
In February 1905, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, a successful competing school to the Art Institute, featured Wadsworth’s works in a one man exhibition.[xxxii] In December 1902, they affiliated with the Chase School of Art, a move which was probably initiated by Lawton Parker, former director of the Chase school.[xxxiii]
When it came to choosing the location for his third summer class abroad in 1905, Chase did so without hesitation - Madrid! He had not been to the Spanish capital since 1896, and he was longing to revisit the Prado with its magnificent paintings. “I expect to revel in Velázquez this summer - not forgetting Greco, Goya and a few more,” Chase announced.[xxxiv] Among the “modern” Spanish artists whose studios he intended to visit with his students were Igancio Zuloaga y Zabaleta and Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida. The group to Spain was limited to fifty “scholars,” including several Chase students who went on to become American modernist painters: Morton Schamberg and Walter Pach (also members of the Holland class), Charles Sheeler and Arthur B. Carles (?-1952). Based on a photograph of the class, about two-thirds of the group were women. Among those present in the photograph are Frank Wadsworth seated in the front row on the floor and the ever present Mrs. Wadsworth seated directly behind him.[xxxv]
Although a Wadsworth journal has not been located, details of this trip and the excitement associated with it are provided in the diary of Charles Sheeler:
“The crescendo was prodigious; and we settled down to copy fragments mainly of Velázquez. Brilliancy of execution was still to the fore. No emphasis was placed upon characterization in the Velázquez portraits, none at all upon the organization of the picture.”[xxxvi]
Wadsworth was too far advanced in his career to be considered a student at this point, but he undoubtedly joined the feverish pitch, making copies, sketching from the model, and painting plein-air subjects. The American painter Irving Ramsay Wiles (1861-1948), Chase’s closest friend was in Madrid at the time and spent several weeks with the class, staying with them at the pension of Señora Carmona Dolores.[xxxvii] The group also traveled to nearby Toledo to see the magnificent works of El Greco. Of all the sights, the one which must have affected Wadsworth most with regard to his development as a painter was a visit to the home and studio of Sorolla in Madrid.[xxxviii] Unfortunately, Sorolla –who was the current “rave” in international art circles, was out of town that summer. The group was graciously received by his brother-in-law who gave them a tour of the place, brimming not only with Sorolla’s paintings, but with artwork of other modern masters in his collection. Even the studio space was dramatic, with Sorolla’s large canvases soaring to skylights in the second floor galleries. In his monumentally conceived paintings, Sorolla used daring diagonals, atypical vantage points and passages of near blinding light, to create on a grand scale what others, like Chase and Wadsworth, had been painting in a more modest size. Wadsworth saw Sorolla compositions similar in design and technique to what he had been painting, but blown up many, many times the size. Comparing Wadsworth’s most successful compositions done in Holland the summer of 1903, to those done in Spain the summer of 1905, such as Washing Place on River - Madrid - Spain, (location unknown) it is clear he was influenced by Sorolla’s paintings.[xxxix] But unlike the Spanish painter who specialized in bright, cheerful subjects, Wadsworth continued to focus on the mundane aspects of daily life, making his paintings interesting in the way he presented them and in his technique. From Chase he had learned early on: “...paint the commonplace in such a way as to make it distinguished.”[xl]
It is impossible to determine the ultimate affect Sorolla’s work would have had on Wadsworth’s development because on October 6, 1905, his life was tragically cut short, Frank Russell Wadsworth died in Spain. The cause was reported as “autumnal fever.” He had been ill for two months and by October Chase and the rest of the summer class students had long since returned home. Mrs. Wadsworth was faced with the terrible task of bringing her only son home to rest alongside his father in Rosehill Cemetery. Chase and his family were greatly bereaved and in his condolences, Chase noted he regarded Wadsworth: “...as a student of great talent and as one who had ‘arrived’ in his profession.”[xli] Both the local and national press mourned his passing. American Art News wrote of the sympathy extended by his fellow students in the Madrid class who had held him in the highest esteem.[xlii] In the Chicago papers he was hailed as a local son who had:
“already won an enviable reputation and was inspired with a desire to carry his art far beyond its achievement… His pictures at the Art Institute from year to year added luster to the collection of work by local painters… his death brings a serious loss to art progress in the West.”[xliii]
Of all the accolades accorded Wadsworth regarding his brief artistic career, the saddest must certainly be that of a life ended with the “promise of a brilliant future.”[xliv]
Ten days after Wadsworth’s death, the Chicago Society of Artists passed a resolution “expressing appreciation of his art labors and… sympathy to his family.”[xlv] Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Wadsworth contacted the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, William M. R. French, about making arrangements for a memorial exhibition of her son’s paintings.[xlvi] The show was scheduled to be held in conjunction with the annual exhibition of Chicago and Vicinity artists. French suggested a selection of twenty-five to thirty paintings to be chosen by the jury of the show. Among the jurors selecting the paintings were two of Chicago’s most important rising artists, Lawton Parker and Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952). An exhibition of eighteen paintings opened on October 30, 1906, the great majority of which were Spanish subjects.[xlvii] Also included were a few figure pieces, a Long Island scene, one of the Bristol, Pennsylvania, canal paintings and his controversial Dutch painting Wharf of Red Boats. The critics were most generous in their praise, one singling out for special mention his “gardens and river vistas, with their gay color and eager, buoyant spirit.”[xlviii] Lena M. McCauley, wrote extensively about Wadsworth’s Wharf of Red Boats, impressed by its “unusual composition and its bold handling of paint.”[xlix] She reminded her readers that there was nothing “pretty” in Wadsworth’s paintings but rather they were “artistic.” It amazed her that an artist could take such a daring composition and color scheme and yet achieve a happy balance:
“It is the most unusual thing in the world… that the color of the weathered boats should find an echo in the tiled roofs and that the blue of a beautiful sky should be repeated in the reflection of the wayside pool.”[l]
Works in the memorial exhibition were offered for sale, ranging from $300 to $500. Wharf of Red Boats, priced at $500, was purchased by the Municipal Art League as their fourth annual selection for a city collection. The choice was apt as critic McCauley recounted four years later:
“Then the ‘Wharf of Red Boats,’ a bold defiant piece of painting with color laid on heavily, and each line made to serve, dominated the exhibition. All other works seemed tame beside it and when the committee made its purchase it seemed right not only in an artistic but in a historic way that Mr. Wadsworth should be represented in the gallery. The painting has held its own well in the time since then and its originality keeps its value well to the foreground.”[li]
Undoubtedly the choice was made by the same jury of artists who had selected the show, men who could appreciate its artistic merits, for aside from McCauley, most critics were still baffled by the work. While one writer conceded the painting had “considerable strength,” was “rich in color” and was “broadly treated,” he still expressed reservations, describing it as being “by far the most conspicuous” painting in the exhibition.[lii]
For years after Wadsworth’s death, his mother did all she could do to insure her son’s position in the annals of American art history and to protect, for posterity, his very limited oeuvre. She continued to send his paintings to important national and international shows. His work was featured posthumously at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibition of 1906 and in the annual shows of 1907 at the: Carnegie Institute; National Academy of Design (his painting The Colonial Door, was owned by Chase) and Nebraska Art Association. In 1909, his work was shown at the annual of the Boston Art Club.[liii] For those works not sold or placed in public institutions, Mrs. Wadsworth made provisions in her will. The rest of her life, Mrs. Wadsworth maintained her close relationship with the Chase family. She continued to visit them during summer months at Shinnecock Hills, and no doubt grieved with them over the passing of Chase in 1916.
Mrs. Wadsworth’s last will and testament, dated December 30, 1918, listed Mrs. Chase and several daughters among her benefactors. Mrs. Chase was to receive portraits that Chase had painted of Frank Wadsworth (1896) and of Mrs. Wadsworth (1902).[liv] Dorothy Chase and Alice Chase Sullivan were each left one of Frank Wadsworth’s paintings. and Helen Chase was left Frank Wadsworth’s collection of Japanese prints. Still friendly with the Freer family, after all these years, remembering the friendship of the two Doctors and the artist Frederick Freer, she gave two of Freer’s works in her possession to his artist sister, Cora Freer (1852-1928). After specifying other personal items and money to be left to family and friends, she instructed her executor to turn the residual of the estate (except her son’s paintings) into liquid funds and to use these funds “after consulting with proper authorities on paintings” to purchase “the best painting (old or modern) that can be obtained at such price” to be presented to the Art Institute of Chicago as a memorial to her son.[lv] A nameplate noting the nature of this gift was to be affixed to the frame. She also designated that paintings by her son remaining in her possession at the time of her death be exhibited, loaned, donated or sold to art museums, clubs, schools, or individuals who expressed interest or were deemed worthy by the trustees of her estate.
Sarah Robinson Wadsworth died July 24, 1925, and the terms of her will were honored.[lvi] In less than a year, the Hephzibah Home and the Charlton Day Nursery in Oak Park, each were given a painting through the auspices of the Oak Park and River Forest Art League (both paintings no longer in their possession and locations unknown).[lvii] It was noted in the local press: “One who views these paintings would be interested even beyond their beauty if the history of the young artist who painted them were known.”[lviii] After recounting basic biographical information about Wadsworth, the writer concluded: “Great things had been predicted for the young man when his untimely death cut short at its very start, what would undoubtedly have been a brilliant career.”[lix] Only recently, with growing interest in regional artists, has Wadsworth’s noteworthy contribution to American painting been re-evaluated. Surely as more of his unlocated painting resurface, a fuller extent of his limited output as a mature painter can be more thoroughly considered and properly acknowledged.
[i]Photographs of these works are housed in the William Merritt Chase Archives, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York.
[ii]“The Chase Class in Holland,” The Sketch Book, May 1904, pp.303-304.
[iii]Walter Pach Diaries, Archives of American Art. Pach mentions thirty-one names of people who attended the class. He met up with Chase at Cafe Brinkman, Haarlem, and stayed at the Pension Mineron. On June 20, it was announced that James McNeill Whistler had died [a wreath in the name of Chase and the class was sent to the funeral in London].
[iv]Walter Pach Papers, Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C.
[v]Op. cit., The Sketch Book, May 1904, p.303.
[vi]“Chase Class in Holland/Summer of 1903,” copy of school brochure in possession of the author.
[vii]Katherine Metcalf Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, (New York: Hacker Art Books, 1975, reprint of 1917), p.207. Also mentions Whistler’s death, p. 207.
[viii]Op. cit., Roof, The Life and Art…, p.207.
[ix]Photograph in possession of author.
[x]“Art School’s Trip Abroad,” New York Times, 9/4/1904, p.5.
[xi]Op. cit., Vernon, Chicago Examiner, 1/29/1904.
[xii]William Vernon, “By William Vernon,” Chicago American, 1/31/1904, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 19, p.114. (This article could not be located from a review of the paper at the Chicago Public Library, it is likely part of this date was not microfilmed).
[xiii]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/6/1904, p.10.
[xiv]“Local Artists Show Many Fine Paintings,” Sunday Record-Herald, 1/29/1904, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 19, p.107.
[xv]Although after Wadsworth’s death it was fully recognized for its exceptional quality and purchased by the Municipal Art League
[xvi]Chicago ?, 2/4/1906, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 21, col. 2, p.147. (The source of the article is not listed in the scrapbooks other than by “Chicago ?”)
[xvii]“The American Exhibit At The Art Institute,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 11/13/1904, Sunday Magazine, p.5.
[xviii]Op. cit., Chicago Inter Ocean, 11/13/1904, Sunday Magazine, p.5.
[xix]See: Ronald G. Pisano, Summer Afternoons: Landscape Paintings by William Merritt Chase, (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1993), p.125, illustration of Chase’s painting Along the Canal (Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester).
[xx]New York Post, 11/12/1904 in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 20, col. 4, p.80.
[xxi]Op. cit., Vernon, Chicago Examiner, 1/29/1904.
[xxii]“Exhibits of Paintings,” Sunday Record-Herald, 1/31/1904, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 19.
[xxiii]James W. Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 1/30/1904, p.4.
[xxiv]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/30/1904, p.8.
[xxv]Op. cit., Sunday Record-Herald, 1/31/1904.
[xxvi]William W. Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 2/20/1904, p.4.
[xxvii]Op. cit., Pattison, Chicago Jorunal, 2/20/1904, p.4.
[xxviii]Sunday Record-Herald, 2/7/1904, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 19.
[xxix]Op. cit., The Sketch Book, May 1904, pp 303-304, Wadsworth’s painting Dutch Backyards illustrated p.304.
[xxx]Op. cit., The Sketch Book, May 1904, p. 304.
[xxxi]Wadsworth probably received this honor based on his successful showing at the Chicago and Vicinity exhibition held earlier in the year. Other members of the Chicago portion of the jury included School of the Art Institute professors Albert François Fleury (1848-1924), Charles Francis Browne (1859-1920), Pauline A. Dohn Rudolph (1865-1934) and Chicago artists Edgar Spier Cameron (1862-1944) and later Art Institute professor Wellington Jarard Reynolds (1866-1949). Wadsworth was by eight years the youngest juror of the group. Information taken from op. cit., Falk, The Annual Exhibition Record…, p.25.
[xxxii]Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 2/25/1905, p.8. Wadsworth was featured along with Academy professors Wellington Jarard Reynolds, John Warner Norton (1876-1934) and William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943).
[xxxiii]“Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/20/1902, col. 2, p.14.
[xxxiv]“Get Together Says Mr. Chase to Fellow Artists,” New York Times, 5/21/1905, p.3.
[xxxv]A copy of this photograph is in the author’s private archives. Her presence was also noted in a letter to G. L. Berg from William M. R. French, French Papers, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 11/4/1905.
[xxxvi]Op. cit., Rourke, Charles Sheeler…, p. 23.
[xxxvii]Op. cit., Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, p.219.
[xxxviii]Op. cit., Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, pp.215-20.
[xxxix]A photograph of this painting, once owned by William Merritt Chase, is in the collection of the William Merritt Chase Archives, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY.
[xl]W. H. Fox, “Chase on Still Life,” Brooklyn Museum Quarterly, January 1915, p.197.
[xli]“Death of Frank R. Wadsworth,” American Art News, Vol. 4, 10/28/1905, p. 2.
[xlii]Op. cit., American Art News, 10/28/1905, p. 2.
[xliii]Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/28/1905, p.9.
[xliv]Op. cit., American Art News, 10/28/1905, p.2.
[xlv]“Francis R. Wadsworth,” Chicago Chronicle, 11/19/1905, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 21, col. 2, p.106. (The article could not be located from a review of the paper in the Chicago Public Library. It is possible the date is either incorrect, or the obituaries were not microfilmed).
[xlvi]Letter to Mrs. Sarah F. Wadsworth from William M. R. French, French Letters, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 1/4/1906.
[xlvii]“Memorial Exhibition Of Works of Frank Russell Wadsworth,” [contained in the exhibition catalogue of the Chicago and Vicinity annual show ] (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1906), pp.33-34.
[xlviii]Chicago Examiner, 2/10/1906, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 21, p.152.
[xlix]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/10/1906, p.10.
[l]Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 2/10/1906, p.10.
[li]Lena M. McCauley, “Chicago’s Municipal Art Gallery,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, September 1910, pp.141-142.
[lii]Op. cit., Chicago ?, 2/4/1906, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks.
[liii] It is interesting his painting Life of Manzanaris, was exhibited posthumously the same year Chase sat on the jury, the only time he had ever done so for the Boston Art Club.
[liv]As mentioned earlier, a photograph of the portrait of Wadsworth in Chase’s studio appears in: op. cit., Pisano and Longwell, photo #141. The portrait was exhibited in a highly publicised January 1905 exhibit of loaned portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago, see: “Throngs Attend Portrait Exhibition At Institute,” Chicago Journal, 1/4/1905, p.5.
[lv]In the minutes of a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Art Institute of Chicago, 10/6/1932, it was noted that a painting, My Mother, by George Bellows, had been acquired for the museum honoring provisions and directions in Sarah Wadsworth’s will regarding funds to purchase an important painting as a memorial to her son. Bellows’ forceful rendition of his mother was a fitting memorial, not only to the memory of Frank Russell Wadsworth, but to his beloved mother Sarah as well. Minutes courtesy of Daniel Schulman, Art Institute of Chicago. The painting had been purchased for the museum after it won the Logan Medal at the Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture in 1923 and Mrs. Wadsworth’s funds were used to replenish those of the Friends of American Art, nine years hence.
[lvi]“His Memorial Own Painting,” Chicago American, 6/24/1932, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 59, p.115. (The article could not be located from the microfilmed copy of the paper at the Chicago Public Library). The article gives the date of death but, misinformation in that the funds were not used to purchase a painting by Wadsworth, rather a painting by Bellows.
[lvii]In 1927, another painting was given to the Municipal Art League entitled The Yellow Blanket, which later came into the collection of the Union League Club of Chicago and then was deacessioned to a private collection. Mention of the donation is made in “Municipal Art league Renews Its Activity,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 12/6/1927, p.16.
[lviii]“Procure Paintings. Oak Park Institutions Receive Paintings by Frank R. Wadsworth,” Oak Parker, 4/16/1926, Oak Park Art League scrapbooks, copy in the Illinois Historical Art Project library.
[lix]Op. cit., Oak Parker, 4/16/1926.