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Lawton S. Parker (1868 - 1954)


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Breakfast in the Garden, 1911.jpg

By Joel S. Dryer © Illinois Historical Art Project


Part 1

Lawton Parker was an unpretentious man, quiet at most times, always seeking to learn and listen. His penchant for educating himself and his never-failing memory of humble roots enabled him to reach a high level in art, character, and business. His friend William Wilson once described their friendship and thereby the man in a letter to Parker’s father by saying:


“Years ago in the old days at Shinnecock [Long Island], I was attracted to him by his wonderful personality, and as that friendship grew, I learned to honor and respect a man for whose beauty of nature, strength of conviction, energy and uprightness of character I have never met a better.” [[1]]


Hard working, energetic, opportunistic, and always contemplative, Parker spent the last half of his life living well from the fruits of his early labors. He ceased to exhibit paintings thirty years before his death and only the onslaught of the Second World War managed to extract him from an idyllic lifestyle as an expatriate. Writer Henry Kitchell Webster described what an encounter with Parker would be like on an ocean liner:


“There never was a man whose habit of life offered less pegs to hang eccentric little anecdotes on than his. You could cross the ocean in the same stateroom with him and never guess that he was a painter at all, or any other person of a temperamental sort… He does not talk art to you, nor gesture with his hands. Indeed it is quite possible that you might talk art to him, tell him all about it. He would listen in his quiet unassuming way, perfectly willing to learn from you, if there happened to be anything you could teach him. It is surprising how many people he can learn something from…” [[2]]


Born on August 7, 1868, in Fairfield, Lenawee County, Michigan, Lawton Silas “Gray” [[3]] Parker was the son of John Wesley and Sarah Ann Sawyer Parker. Both parents were born in Ohio, John in 1831 and Sarah in 1838. Lenawee County was a leader in Michigan agriculture and had a rapid population growth after its founding in 1824, until the late 1800s. Manufacturers in the area included those in rail car and wire fence production. [[4]] John and Sarah probably met in Ohio before moving to Iowa, where a daughter, Ida May, was born in 1860, prior to their move to Michigan. John enlisted in the First Company, Sharpshooters, Twenty-seventh Infantry, on February 29, 1864. The company was in possession of the new Spencer repeating rifle which required considerable skill in handling and was far superior to the muskets in general use. He left his wife behind, possibly with family, and saw heavy action throughout Virginia until the company joined the Army of the Potomac and was mustered out of service on July 26, 1865, John having risen to the rank of Sergeant. His survival was against the odds as close to thirty percent of his company died and thirty percent was wounded. [[5]]


The Parker family must have left Michigan shortly after the birth of young Lawton as there is no record of them at Fairfield in the 1870 census. Lawton was in Kearney, Nebraska, the Parker’s fourth residence, at the age of five, in 1873. [[6]] He was affectionately known by close friends and family as “Lottie.” [[7]] Family history recounts they settled on a farm (today it is the Arvon Marlatt farm) in Nebraska, which may have accounted for their earlier residences in Iowa and Michigan. [[8]] The land they settled had once been Fort Kearney, disbanded in 1871 [[9]], and the land was probably available on terms favorable to veterans. [[10]] John Parker prospered in Kearney, purchased land, and established himself as a sewing machine agent by 1880. [[11]]


Like most artists, young Lottie showed early promise in art when in 1882, he was awarded a prize for the best pencil drawing by the Buffalo County Agricultural Society at the annual fair in Shelton, Nebraska. [[12]] He is said to have been encouraged to art by his parents who gave him a box of watercolors at an early age. [[13]] Utilizing his talents, Lawton picked up odd jobs painting signs for area businesses as a source of income, something common for a small town boy or man with a talent for drawing. He was also said to have earned $75 painting the side of a barn in Kansas City because the prior artist had not accounted for the distortion of such a large work. [[14]]


In the 1882 Christmas edition a Presbyterian weekly newspaper published in Chicago, The Interior, offered a prize for the best picture depicting country life by a subscriber with no art training; rule 3 stated: “The drawing must be the work of the person competing, a free hand drawing, without the aid of a copy, tracing tools, or any suggestions from an artist friend.” [[15]] The judges, Cyrus H. McCormick, Jr., a noteworthy and very wealthy Chicagoan, and art professor Paul Brown (1824-1893) of Chicago, chose Parker’s Kearney’s Milkmaid, [[16]] from over a thousand drawings submitted. [[17]] Shortly after receiving the prize, “a magnificently printed book” entitled The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, Parker was sent to Omaha, Nebraska to study with artist James Knox O’Neil (1847-1922), who had a successful private school where he taught in all mediums including oil, crayon, watercolor and pastels. [[18]]


An article very early in the life of Parker had the prescience to predict the success which would come later:


“There is no doubt but that Master Lawton possess a large degree an artist’s talent and will some day be known throughout the country as one of the masters of the profession he has thus far excelled in.” [[19]]


A letter from Frank Gray, announcing the award to Parker’s father, encourages him to send the boy to Chicago where Professor Brown had offered free tuition in his private studio. Brown also was active in the Chicago Academy of Design and would help secure a position for Parker there. [[20]] Gray and his father William Cunningham Gray began a campaign among his subscribers to fund the expenses and tuition Parker would incur in Chicago, eventually transferring the young pupil to the School of the Art Institute under the tutelage of John Henry Vanderpoel (1857-1911). [[21]] Certainly the Grays probably paid part of Parker’s tuition and likely all of it if his solicitation for help from his subscribers was not successful. [[22]] Since Parker was from a poor family and had little prospect of artistic encouragement at home, Gray also offered to supply room and board. Parker gratefully accepted the help and remained at the Gray home for several years before. [[23]] It is interesting to read Gray’s own words of the coming of Lawton Parker:


“I detected Lawton’s gifts as an artist immediately I set my eyes on his picture. I found out that he was the son of a poor soldier and had no education of any kind. I knew that with proper instruction he would become a great painter someday...” [[24]]


We surmise Parker must have studied with Professor Brown and at the then artist run Chicago Academy of Design for about two years before he entered the School of the Art Institute of Chicago beginning in October 1886. [[25]] At the close of the first term, he won the first prize in the under class for Nude Life. [[26]] He continued at the Institute’s school, except during summer months, through May 1888. Given a position as graduate assistant at the school, his abilities were confirmed at the end of the school term. He was awarded the first prize Silver Medal, for a group consisting of: full-length costumed figure; nude figure; three oil heads; one other head and anatomical study, a total of eight works. [[27]] By the end of his education at the Institute, one newspaper commented on his talent by saying: “The work of the students is particularly good this year... Mr. Parker’s work in the life class shows a rising young genius, to which is evidently added that more rare quality - application.” [[28]] Parker graduated from the Art Institute in June 1888, with highest honors. [[29]]


He returned home to Kearney, to visit friends, on his way to Edgewater, Washington Territory, where his parents had moved, once again. [[30]] Parker left for Paris about September or October, to complete his training, Frank Gray having taken credit for “sending him to Paris.” [[31]] It was around this time Parker showed gratitude to his supporter by using the middle name of “Gray” in addition to Silas. He entered the atelier of Jean Leon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in October. During the summer of 1889, Parker took advantage of his locale to travel in the countryside and sketch from nature. [[32]] This quite possibly could have been his first experience with plein-air painting. Upon his return to Paris, he began study in with Jean Paul Laurens; expanded his studies further by enrolling in the popular Académie Julian to study with Tony Robert-Fleury and William Adolphe Bouguereau and reentered the atelier of Gérôme. [[33]]


Joseph Emerson, professor of ancient languages at Beloit College, was visiting Paris in 1890. He had commented upon hearing the great master Gérôme speak of Parker as not only his strongest pupil, but of the entire Ecole. [[34]] Parker developed a strong rapport with Gérôme and the two developed a sort of friendship; something which would prove valuable to Parker in both his education and his future acceptances at annual Salon Société des Artistes Français. The year of the 1890 Société des Artistes Français Salon (known hereafter as the Salon Société des Artistes Français), Parker attended the afternoon session of varnishing day with Professor Emerson.


Varnishing day was a great event, and most of the important persons in art, literature and society were in attendance. [[35]] Emerson recounted in a letter that he was the guest of Parker at the Palais d’Industrie, where the show was hung; [[36]] this began a relationship between the two which would later culminate in professional position for the artist. Emerson viewed the portrait of Homer Norris a friend of Parker’s who was studying music in Paris, and a church music director in Beloit. [[37]] The painting had been accepted with the distinct honor, especially for an American, of being hung on the line, no doubt due the influence of Gérôme. [[38]] Emerson commented on the honor for this artist of only twenty-one by saying,


“This is the most distinguished honor that can be bestowed by the hanging committee after a picture has run the gauntlet of criticism by the judges - who decides what paintings shall be accepted, judges composed of the best artists of the nation.” [[39]]


When Parker left France after the autumn of 1890 [[40]] to return to Chicago (Oak Park), he accepted a position as an illustrator at the religious publication Interior, now published by his mentor W. C. Gray’s son, Frank Gray. [[41]] Gérôme sent Parker back to the United States with one of his palettes, “primed by the great artist himself and presented to his favorite pupil.” Parker presented the palette to the Art Institute, rather than keeping it for himself. [[42]] He busied himself with exhibition activities showing a portrait of Dr. Gray he had been working on for some time [[43]]; at the 3rd annual exhibition of the Chicago Society of Artists, where he had recently been elected as an artist member. [[44]]


In December 1891, Parker accepted a position to teach at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts (now Washington University), to replace the ill Professor Douglas Patrick. [[45]] While he certainly would have come to their attention through the acceptance of his work at the 1891, American Annual exhibit in St. Louis, there was probably a closer connection. Director of the St. Louis School Halsey Ives was a “warm personal friend” of Art Institute Director William M. R. French. It is more than likely that when St. Louis was in need of an instructor French made the recommendation of Parker. [[46]] With previous experience as a graduate assistant at the School of the Art Institute in 1888, the accolades which no doubt followed him from abroad, his recent successful showing at the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute where one of his works was called the “best of the year”, [[47]] exhibition with the prestigious Chicago Society of artists that year and his proximity to St. Louis from Chicago, he would have been an ideal stand-in replacement.


After the school year finished, about June 1892, Parker must have returned to Chicago for the summer. [[48]] He vacationed with the Gray family in Island Lake, Wisconsin where they owned property with the McCormick’s. There Parker painted a portrait of W. C. Gray that was hung a year later in the gallery of notable Midwesterners at the World’s Columbian Exposition. [[49]] He had remained active with the Chicago Society of Artists, exhibiting their 1892 annual show, and probably had other portrait commissions and newspaper illustration work awaiting him upon his arrival due to connections with Gray.


Parker returned to St. Louis in the fall as Director of the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, stepping in for Ives who was then busy with the World’s Fair in Chicago as director. [[50]] Preferring, however, to be located closer to Chicago, his previous association with Joseph Emerson resulted in a position to create a department of art at the then Christian oriented Beloit College. [[51]] Beginning in January 1893, he taught Friday evenings and Saturdays. [[52]] This allowed him to spend the remainder of his time concentrating on added income from newspaper illustration and portrait commissions. He received a commission to paint Howard University President, Dr. W. W. Patton, and so succeeded, received orders to make four copies for the sons of Doctor Patton. [[53]] Early on, Joseph Emerson commented, “Everybody seems very much pleased with Mr. Parker and he to like his pupils and his work.” [[54]] Parker had introduced the French method of teaching drawing from the live model in addition to the standard drawing from casts. Such methods predated his introduction of the teaching technique at the Art Institute of Chicago by a decade. [[55]]


The World’s Columbian Exposition opened to the public on May 1, 1893. As was the practice at earlier Expositions in Paris, art schools from around the country organized exhibits to be shown in their state or city section, separate and apart from the massive Fine Arts exhibit. William M. R. French commented three years later that Parker’s works “included nearly all the striking pictures in the gallery devoted to the St. Louis exhibit.” [[56]]


Classes in Beloit were opened again on September 22, 1893 but lasted for Parker only until mid October when he left because the college could not pay him enough, if at all, due to the worsening economic depression. Accounts vary on the number of students in the classes, but Parker had between twenty and twenty-five, half of whom were women, and admission was only 50 cents. [[57]] Parker left mid-term for New York City to again further and broaden his education and obviously to seek a more encouraging financial arrangement.


The Metropolitan Museum art school determined to open a graduate atelier under the direction of famed artist John LaFarge (1835-1910), and Parker enrolled to take full advantage of this opportunity. [[58]] The first class organized under LaFarge was for advanced students, those artists who were already practicing in the field and sought to utilize the combination of LaFarge’s insights with the museum’s collections. [[59]] H. Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) was also at the museum school although it isn’t clear if Parker worked with him at the Museum or the Art Students League where he had also enrolled that October. [[60]] Continuing with Mowbray, he entered the class of George de Forest Brush (1855-1941) in May 1894 at the Art Students League. Still maintaining his ties to Chicago, and possibly shuttling back and forth, he won a prize at the annual Chicago Society of Artists Black & White exhibition in 1894. [[61]]


From October 1894, he was taking classes from Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), Mowbray and Brush. For a period of four months in late 1894 and early 1895, he was taking both day and evening classes, an arduous schedule. The Fall term 1895, he again entered Mowbray’s class and finally, in November 1895, he began studying with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), which lasted until January 1896. [[62]]


About January, a group of advanced students had become dissatisfied with the League’s program of instruction, preferring instead an atelier system more based upon the Académie Julian; Parker would have been the likely instigator of this dissatisfaction given his earlier French instruction and proclivity for teaching the French atelier system to his own students. Included in this group besides Parker, were, Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930), Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952), Eugene Paul Ullman (1877-1953) and Walter Appleton Clark (1876-1906). They, but primarily Parker, convinced Chase to form the Chase School of Art, with Parker as the first director and co-founder. [[63]] Four criticisms were given weekly including two by Parker and two by Chase. [[64]] Parker was benefiting from his earlier experience as an instructor and art department head in Beloit and St. Louis. Unique in the United States, there were no entrance examinations, and no drawing from the antique, only from life. “If, after a month’s trial the pupil is found deficient, he is kindly apprised of the fact...” Each month Chase arranged to have the best studies from the Académie Julian sent for comparison. [[65]] The school was immediately successful, attracting over one hundred students at years end, and generating a profit. [[66]] Miller, Hawthorne and Clark went on to illustrious teaching careers.


In October 1896, Parker was named the winner of the John Armstrong Chaloner scholarship for study in Europe. [[67]] At the time, arguably the two most influential teachers the School of the Art Institute had ever seen, Lorado Taft and John H. Vanderpoel, along with director William French, maintained Parker would soon “become one of this countries [sic] foremost painters.” [[68]] French further commented, “He is a genius.” It was an impressive prize. Students were judged on drawing from nude life, painting a head from life and composition. Twenty-seven competitors in all were subjected to a jury which consisted of: Henry G. Marquand, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Thomas Woods, president of the National Academy of Design; John LaFarge, president and Augustus St. Gaudens (1848-1907), Edwin Howland Blashfield (1848-1936) and George DeForrest Brush of the Society of American Artists; George W. Breck (1863-1920), president and Walter Shirlaw (1838-1909), Charles Yardley Turner (1850-1919) and James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917) of the Art Students’ League and John George Brown (1831-1913), president of the American Watercolor Society. The jury concluded unanimously on the choice of Parker. [[69]]


Parker was in Chicago around the winter holidays and then probably left for Paris immediately. [[70]] He returned to the retrieve his parents and nephew, Claude Freeman, to stay in Paris with him while he studied; they arrived on March 2, 1897. [[71]] Correspondence shows Parker was still active with the Chase school. Earlier, acting in capacity as director of the school, Parker contacted the Cincinnati Academy of Art and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, about a fee for sending works to their schools from the concours winners at the Académie Julian. This “scheme” was to earn fifty dollars (later reduced to twenty-five) per month. It appears initially it was put into action as the press reported “energetic” Parker had secured drawings for the School of the Art Institute from the Chase school and “some of the Paris academies.” [[72]] It would have certainly been a financially rewarding enterprise, with eight months, two schools, and limited expenses. Parker had expressed to the Cincinnati school he and Chase were attempting to eliminate the need for students to travel “abroad” to study. They also hoped to include regular studies by Dagnan-Bouveret, Bastien-Lapage and others. [[73]]


Records of the Académie Julian show him re-entering as a student beginning in 1896. There he studied with Jean Paul Laurens and Jean-Joseph Benjamin- Constant. [[74]] Seeking to compare his work to others immediately, he entered the Salon of 1897, and was accepted with a portrait of a young girl, apparently “hung on the line”, or line of sight, the most important location in an exhibition where works were hung from the ceiling down. [[75]] Parker had also reentered the atelier of his former mentor Gérôme, on of his strongest supporters, at the Ecole. By 1898, the indefatigable worker was also enrolled in the evening classes of the Académie Colarossi. [[76]]


The period of 1898 to 1899, must have seemed a whirlwind to the fast-rising Parker. In 1898, he won Prix d’Atelier at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, [[77]] two first portraiture prizes at the Académie Julian, [[78]] and their special medal for general excellence, [[79]] and a bronze medal at the Académie Colarossi. [[80]] The following year he won first and second prizes at the Julian concours [[81]] and the Senator William A. Clark second prize at the American Art Association of Paris. [[82]] In 1897 he had shown in the  Salon Société des Artistes Français and once again in 1898. [[83]] In January 1899, he exhibited at the annual exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the catalogue gives him a Chicago address, which means, despite his stays in New York and Paris he was probably calling Chicago his home. Later that year, he was asked by Paul-Albert Louis Besnard, to assist in the decoration of Cazin Hospital at Berck, France. [[84]] During periods when he was not enrolled in school, he traveled. Parker visited Etaples in 1897, [[85]] Spain in 1898 and Monteuil in 1899. [[86]] The Parker family spent the entire summer at Ètaples. They rented an apartment with a vegetable garden and a woman to clean and cook. Lawton set out to work almost every day, traveling to nearby sights and small towns. [[87]]


In April 1899, he entered James McNeill Whistler’s short-lived Académie Carmen with Edward Dufner (1871-1957). [[88]] The Académie was named after Whistler’s longtime model Carmen Rossi and located at 6 Passage Stanislas. Parker’s artist friends Alson Skinner Clark [[89]] (1876-1949) and Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) were also enrolled. [[90]] A fellow Chicago artist Mrs. Blanche D. Cole had this to say about Whistler and his instruction:


“He comes to criticize every day and his criticisms are like himself and his work – original, subtle, and hard to understand. He is small, slight, and as neat as a pin. He is 65 years of age, has a fine face and a sweet voice, and is a representative gentleman of the old school. He is nervous, terribly nervous, and his hands are never quiet. He suggests rather than says things, as in his pictures, but he makes you feel the thought he wishes to convey.” [[91]]


It was probably during this period when Parker was thinking most about building a successful business venture in the way of a school of Art. He had discussed the success of the Académie Julian with its founder and wanted to know the difference between the successful Académie and the government Ecole. Julian made clear the need for one man rule in a successful school. [[92]] He even sought Master Whistler, prior to leaving Paris, for pointers on how to conduct his classes in New York. [[93]]


Ever enterprising, he began acting as a paintings dealer by at least 1899, acting as an agent for Americans coming to France to purchase works and artists desiring to find clients. [[94]] He also engaged in club activities joining with the American Artists’ Association of Paris and exhibiting there in 1899, [[95]] and had resumed teaching privately.


In 1899, most likely in the fall, Parker returned to America as president of the New York School of Art, formerly known as the Chase School. [[96]] The school had become immensely popular in just a short time (it would soon grow to over 1,200 students) [[97]] as it bypassed the academic regimen and offered students study from the live model, limited class sizes and long waiting lists. [[98]] Back in Paris again by November 1900, where he would remain until 1902 in the Montparnasse section of Paris, [[99]] he found the opportunity to open the Parker Academy which existed about three years in Paris. [[100]] One of the great benefits of his studio locale at 9 Impasse du Maine, which he moved to in 1898, [[101]] was his close proximity to fellow artists, among them many Americans, some who had studied at the Art Institute such as Frieseke. [[102]] It was also a base for those American artists friendly with Parker upon arrival in Paris. [[103]] This area was an enclave of sorts with a small courtyard completely surrounded by living and working studios. Created in 1812 the Impasse du Maine was previously home to noted Académie Julian professor Jean-Paul Laurens, painter Jules Bastien-Lepage and sculptors Jules Dalou. [[104]] Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle was resident at the same time Parker was there.


 [[1]]Letter to John Wesley Parker from William Wilson, Paris, 11/26/1901, p.2, IHAP Library.

 [[2]]Henry Kitchell Webster, “Lawton Parker,” Collier’s, Vol. 52, 1/13/1914, p.23.

 [[3]]It will become evident later in the essay where the name Gray was taken from.

 [[4]]“Lenawee County, Michigan,” Internet page,

 [[5]]Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers In The Civil War 1861-1865, “Twenty-seventh Infantry” and “Michigan Volunteers,” Vol. 27, (Lansing: Michigan Legislature, 1915), pp.1-3, 102.

 [[6]]Auld Ingle and Maud Marston Burrows, Lawton Parker, Artist, typescript scrapbook of transcriptions of newspaper articles, “Kearney’s Artist, Lawton Parker in Kearney,” p.14. Scrapbook courtesy of Kirk R. Edgar, private papers. The town was incorporated December 3, 1873.

 [[7]] Numerous letters to and from Parker refer to this nickname.

 [[8]]Lawton Parker Freeman, “Remembering Uncle Lawton,” typescript, copyright 1995, Lawton Parker Freeman, p.1. [Hereinafter referred to as Freeman essay]. See also: Margaret Stines Nielsen, “The Arts In Early Kearney,” Buffalo Tales, Buffalo County Historical Society, Vol. 8, No. 8, September 1985, pp.4-5.

 [[9]] The newspaper article: “Parker Wins Chandler [Chaloner] Paris Prize,” Chicago Tribune, 10/27/1896, p.9, incorrectly states that John Parker was attached to a still active fort.

 [[10]]Parker was noted by sculptress and close friend Nancy Cox-McCormack to be one eighth Native American. If true this may have accounted for some ties to the western territory. Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, Nancy Cox-McCormack papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Box No. 1, Spring 1951, p.36.

 [[11]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.2.

 [[12]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.2. See also clipping “Lawton S. Parker, 1st, general penmanship and pencil drawing, 2nd, pencil drawing,” Lawton Parker newspaper clipping and letter diary, IHAP Library, p.2. [Parker diary].

 [[13]] Rochester Democrat, “First Prize In Salon Société des Artistes Français,” 8/19/1913, p.6. Further evidence of his father’s encouragement is found in “Our Young Folks. The Prize Drawings,” The Interior, Vol. 14, No. 669, 2/22/1883, p.7, which quotes a letter from Parker’s father saying: “I am very anxious to get my boy to an art school. But what can a poor old broken down soldier do without money or health? I suppose I will have to wait and let the poor boy fight his own way up. I feel confident he will make it in time, for he is a good boy and is trying hard to make something of himself.” My thanks to Diana Sanderson of the Presbyterian Church Department of History, Montreat, North Carolina, for assistance in locating this article.

 [[14]] Op. cit., Webster, Collier’s, 1/13/1914.

 [[15]] Op. cit., The Interior, 2/22/1883, p.7.

 [[16]] Op. cit., The Interior, 2/22/1883, p.7, which also ran illustrations of the runners up and winner. See also: “Kearney’s Young Artist,” New Era-Standard, Typescript article and undated clipping, Kearney, Nebraska, IHAP Library, 2/17/1883 and “Dr. W. C. Gray Happy. His Protégé, Lawton Parker, Wins Chandler [Chaloner] Paris Scholarship,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9. William Cunningham Gray was publisher of the Interior. McCormick was had purchased the weekly almost ten years earlier having been convinced of its prospects by Gray. Information courtesy of Mark Hammons and his “Biographical Notes: William Cunningham Gray (1830-1901),” 1985.

 [[17]]Miss Laura McProud (Louella B. Mendenhall), “Lawton Silas Parker,” Souvenir of the Louisiana Purchase: American Students’ Census Paris, 1903, (Privately published, Laura McProud, 1904), p.173.

 [[18]] Op cit., New Era Standard, 2/17/1883. His first name and middle initial are found in an unidentified clipping, “Fine Work,” Lawton Parker diary, p.8, a copy is in the IHAP Library. O’Neil was well known among artists and patrons in Omaha. For a brief story on the artist see: Elizabeth Flynn, “Californian Reports on Artist-Father,” Omaha Evening World-Herald, 3/6/1963, p.14 and John Lethem, Historical and Descriptive Review of Omaha, (Omaha: Jno. Lethem, 1892), pp.164-165.

 [[19]] Op cit., New Era Standard, 2/17/1883.

 [[20]] Letter to J. W. Parker from Frank S. Gray, Parker diary, no date, February 1883, pp.9-10. The Chicago Academy of Design had been taken over by businessmen and converted to the Art Institute of Chicago by 1882, however, the artists of the old Academy still maintained a small school.

 [[21]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9. The details of these events come in part from op. cit., The Interior, 2/22/1883, p.7.

 [[22]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9.

 [[23]]Thanks to Mark Hammons for his essay “Biographical Notes: William Gray Purcell (1880-1965),” 1985.

 [[24]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9.

 [[25]] Brown drew a scene in Parker’s memento book signed “Chicago, Ill 1884,” IHAP Library, p.6. From this we know Gray was successful in bringing Parker to Chicago as early as 1884. A note in the memento book, signed “Mrs. George Bancroft, Evanston, Ill. April 13th 1884,” indicates he stayed at the Bancroft home and was there the better part of a school term, thereby indicating he arrived in the Fall 1883, see p.7.

 [[26]]“At the Art Institute,” unknown newspaper clipping, date surmised by other student prizes, June 1887, Parker diary, p.10.

 [[27]]“The Ideal From Mud,” Chicago Times, 6/23/1888 in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbooks (hereinafter AIC Scrapbooks), Vol. 4, col.3, p.60. In speaking to the class at the end of the term “Mr. French closed his remarks with a very handsome tribute to both the character and promising talent of the winner of the first prize, Lawton S. Parker.” Also, “Art Institute Prizes,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 6/24/1888, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 4, col. 3, p.61. “Mr. Parker’s work in the life class shows a rising young genius, to which is evidently added that more rare quality – application.”

 [[28]]“Art Institute Prizes,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 6/24/1888, p.17.

 [[29]] Printed flyer, The Art Institute of Chicago, “School Notice,” “Chicago, Sept. 20, 1902,” signed by W. M. R. French, director, Ryerson Library Archives, Art Institute of Chicago, on file at IHAP Library. The notice says in the second paragraph, “Mr. Parker was graduated with the highest honors at the Art Institute in 1888...”

 [[30]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9; op. cit., Ingle and Burrows, “Going To Paris,” p.2; and Handwritten letter to William French from Lawton Parker, Paris, 10/25/1889, Ryerson Library archives, Art Institute of Chicago. An article in the Parker diary, “Room For Settlers,” p.11, describes how the land in Washington was available at $1.25 per acre through the government and that “once cleared will raise almost anything that is planted on it.” It was certainly such land which attracted the senior Parker West.

 [[31]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9.

 [[32]] Op. cit., letter to French from Lawton Parker, Paris, 10/25/1889.

 [[33]] Catherine Fehrer, The Julian Academy Paris 1868-1939, (New York: Shepherd Gallery, Spring 1989), n.p.

 [[34]] Letter-diary of Joseph Emerson, 4/22/1890, p.287, Beloit College archives. Emerson dates Parker’s arrival in this letter by stating he had been there “only” nineteen months. See also: H. B. E., “Prof. Lawton S. Gray Parker,” The Round Table, 2/15/1893, pp.132-135.

 [[35]] Op. cit., The Round Table, 2/15/1893, p.134.

 [[36]] Op. cit., Emerson letter, 4/22/1890, p.287.

 [[37]] The circumstances of how exactly Emerson came to know Parker have several possibilities. In the Round Table, article, Emerson was invited to visit the Ecole des Beaux-arts while Gérôme was criticizing and heard of Parker’s great talent. Norris, however, was a music director in Emerson’s church, such fact we know from his letter of 4/22/1890. In the Round Table article, it states Norris was a friend of Parker’s.

 [[38]] See also: Letter to his daughter Clara from Joseph Emerson, 12/21/1892, Beloit College archives.

 [[39]] Op. cit., The Round Table, 2/15/1893, p.134.

 [[40]]“Art Notes,” The Graphic, 3/14/1891, p.174. The article noted he remained until “last autumn” and was working at the time of the article on a portrait of Dr. Gray, his supporter.

 [[41]]James Spencer Dickerson, “Progress in Art,” The Interior, Vol. 23, No. 1132, 2/4/1892, pp.8-9. Oak Park was the Home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whom Parker may have met there. Wright would later create an interior space for Parker, discussed later. My thanks to Diana Sanderson of the Presbyterian Church Department of History, Montreat, North Carolina, for assistance in locating this article. It is certain Parker resided in Oak Park for a time (Art Institute of Chicago exhibition records) and more than likely Parker lived with the wealthy Gray family, who had moved there in 1872 and had earlier provided him room and board; Gray was like a father to Parker as witnessed by the adoption of the Gray name into Parker’s own middle name. W. C. Gray’s daughter married wealthy Charles Purcell and their son William Gray Purcell became a famous architect of the Prairie School design.

 [[42]] Op. cit., The Round Table, 2/15/1893, p.134. It is not clear exactly in which month Parker left. We know he was working in the atelier of Benjamin-Constant, with whom he was quite friendly, sometime after July 1891, from Alphaeus P. Cole, “An Adolescent in Paris: The Adventure of Being An Art Student Abroad in the Late 19th Century,” The American Art Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2, November 1976, pp.111-113. Cole was “going on” sixteen when he entered the Académie Julian, which is sometime after his fifteenth birthday on 7/12/1876. Most likely it would obviously have been the fall 1891 when Parker was in the atelier, before returning to Chicago.

 [[43]]Op. cit., The Graphic, 3/14/1891, p.174.

 [[44]]“The Fine Arts,” Chicago Tribune, 2/8/1891, p.10. “Art and Artists,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Vol. XX, No. 19, 4/12/1891, Part 1, p.3.

 [[45]] “The Fine Arts,” Chicago Tribune, 12/20/1891, p.37.

 [[46]] “Chicago Art School,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 5/10/1891 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 5, col. 2, p.46.

 [[47]] “Palette And Brush. The Fourth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings,” Daily Inter Ocean, 10/27/1891, p.5: “Lawton S. Gray Parker, a gifted young man of Oak Park, Ill., who was formerly a student at the Art Institute, exhibits a portrait of Miss Allen (No. 303), daughter of James Lane Allen, which is worthy of praise and has received favorable notice from many. Some have even gone into raptures over it and bestowed extravagant panegyrics by declaring it the best thing of the year.”

 [[48]] An exhibition catalogue from Chicago incorrectly listed his address as Denver, Colorado, see: “List of ...Members: Parker, Lawton. T. [S.] G.,” Fourth Annual Exhibition of the Chicago Society of Artists, (Chicago: Chicago Society of Artists, 4/25/1892). In 1893, he had a studio at 304 Wabash in Chicago, see: “List of Exhibitors: L. S. G. Parker,” Fifth Annual Exhibition, (Chicago: Chicago Society of Artists, 1893).

 [[49]]Op. cit., Hammons, “Biographical Notes: William Gray Purcell (1880-1965),” 1985.

 [[50]] Information courtesy of the St. Louis Art Museum.

 [[51]] Op. cit., The Round Table, 2/15/1893, p.135. The article states he preferred to “establish” himself in Chicago.

 [[52]]Heather Lee Schroeder, “Helen Brace Emerson and the Art Department,” Beloit College, 2000.

 [[53]] Op. cit., The Round Table, 2/15/1893, p.135.

 [[54]] Letter to his daughter Clara from Joseph Emerson, 1/14/1893, Beloit College archives.

 [[55]] Letter to his daughter Clara from Joseph Emerson, 4/12/1893, Beloit College archives.

 [[56]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9. French added: “Most of the meritorious pictures exhibited in the St. Louis department in the art building at the world’s fair were from him or his pupils.”

 [[57]] Op. cit. Emerson letter, 4/12/1893, and Beloit Free Press, 9/21/1893, below not related heading, “What Would They Have Done,” Beloit College archives. Op. cit., Schroeder, “Helen Brace Emerson and the Art Department,” 2000. Mrs. Emerson was wealthy and had married Professor Emerson in 1883. “History of the Wright Museum of Art,” Beloit College.

 [[58]] “Parker Wins Chandler [Chaloner] Paris Prize,” Chicago Tribune, 10/27/1896, p.9.

 [[59]]“The Art Museum’s New Field,” Chicago Tribune, 12/29/1892, p.14.

 [[60]]Mowbray was teaching at the Museum in 1892-1893 as the Metropolitan was re-evaluating their classes for the more senior students. It is currently a matter of assumption that he was with Mowbray here and not at the Art Student’s League as records from the Museum do not list individual students. James Moske of the libraries of the museum confirmed through a series of emails in August 2014 there were students mentioned being from Chicago during this time.

 [[61]] “Portraits By Master,” Chicago Times-Herald, 12/27/1896, Part 3, p.33.

 [[62]] “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902, AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 17, p.66. Issues of the Sunday edition were not microfilmed by the Chicago Public Library and no other sources have been located for the Sunday editions. There are several sources for Monday through Saturday editions and such sources often list Sunday editions as well, but in all cases, holdings are exceptionally scattered containing only a few dates. The article gives a slightly incorrect set of dates which has been corrected through student records of the Art Students League.

 [[63]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 10/27/1896, p.9; Lolan C. Read, Jr., “The New York School of Art,” The Sketch Book, Vol. 3, No. 8, April 1904, p.219, and Chase School of Art, Advertising pamphlet, (New York: Chase School of Art, 1896), Cincinnati Art Museum Library. Chase had invited some top artists to judge the regular school concours including Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John La Farge, J. Carroll Beckwith and Robert Blum. Hawthorne acted as Secretary and Treasurer. “Dear Arts,” Arts For America, Vol. 6, No. 3, November 1896, p.95, “The Chase School, founded by Mr. Chase, assisted by Mr. Lawton Parker, the winner of the Chan[d]ler Prize, is somewhat unique and exceedingly popular.” The article goes on to quote Parker as saying the school has the strongest line of students ever before assembled in New York. In op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9, the article says of Parker, “He next became managing director of the Chase School of Art.” In Parker’s letter of 2/11/1897, to Mr. A. T. Goshorn of the Art Academy of Cincinnati on Chase School of Art letterhead, Parker’s signature appears above the title of Director. See also: Chase School of Art. New York. Season 1896-1897, advertising pamphlet, Cincinnati Museum of Art archives, 1896, wherein Lawton Parker is listed as “Director.” In William H. Ingram, editor, “Parker, Lawton Silas,” Who’s Who In Paris Anglo-American Colony, (Paris: The American Register, Count Louis Hamon, 1905), p.68, Parker is stated to have founded the school. Parker was known for his business acumen and it is not unlikely he did found the school after convincing Chase to lend his name as both whole or part owner and teacher. See also: Miss Laura McProud (Louella B. Mendenhall), “Lawton Silas Parker,” Souvenir of the Louisiana Purchase: American Students' Census Paris, 1903, (Privately published, Laura McProud, 1904), p.173. The school, years after Parker ceased to be affiliated, went into receivership in 1909. “Receiver For School of Art,” New York Times, 8/26/1909, p.14.

 [[64]] Op. cit., Arts For America, November 1896, p.95.

 [[65]] Op. cit., Arts For America, November 1896, pp.95-96.

 [[66]] Op. cit., Read, The Sketch Book, April 1904, p.219.

 [[67]]Op. cit., Who’s Who In Paris Anglo-American Colony. Proposed in 1890/1891 as the “Paris Prize Fund,” the award jury consisted of well-known French painters including Parker’s master at the Ecole, Gérôme. The recipient was granted $5,000 ($900 per year) and entitled the holder to study five years in any part of Europe he chose. Better known as the Chaloner Prize it was formed by John Armstrong Chaloner in New York City. Chaloner canvassed local art patrons for donations and combined with his own contributions formed the prize to support art study in Paris. By 1917, however, only two grants had been made, one of those to Parker. In 1917 the fund was organized into a foundation, with Parker, Charles A. Platt, and William Rand, Jr. comprising the board of trustees. The prize was given through 1973 where after the foundation was dissolved. Records may be found at the Archives of American Art. The prize is described in some detail in “Art Notes,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Vol. XX, No. 61, 5/24/1891, Part 1, p.6, and again further in “Art and Artists: Art Notes,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Vol. XX, No. 75, 6/7/1891, Part 3, p.18. See also, “Won The Key To Trilbyland,” in AIC Scrapbooks, no source, 1896, vol. 8, p.2. The prize is sometimes mistakenly attributed to the Art Students League of New York. However, it was open to all students at every school, almost entirely from New York City. See also, op. cit., Sunday Times-Herald, 12/27/1896, Part 3, p.33. The prize was also frequently misattributed to “Chandler,” not Chaloner. Chaloner was born to a wealthy New York family. At the time his fortune was $4 million. The eccentric Chaloner was committed in 1897 to an insane asylum, from which he escaped in 1900, to fight the rest of his life to remain free and legally sane. Information courtesy of Anne Holub, “Spirit Walk spooks students, community, The Cavalier Daily, 10/31/1996, and accessed 6/11/2013.

 [[68]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 10/26/1896, p.9.

 [[69]] Op. cit., “Won The Key To Trilbyland.” Details of the prize prior to the competition are found in Isabel McDougall, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/9/1897, p.10.

 [[70]] Isabel McDougall, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/9/1897, p.10.

 [[71]] Diary of Claude Freeman, 1897, property of Virginia Freeman Bottorff, as quoted in op. cit., Freeman essay, p.4. It appears Parker supported his family on the generous Chaloner scholarship along with his father’s pension. Freeman essay, p.5.

 [[72]]Isabel McDougall, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/27/1897, p.10.

 [[73]] Letters from Parker to A. T. Goshorn, Cincinnati Art Museum Archives, 2/11/1897, 2/17/1897 and 5/10/1897.

 [[74]] Op. cit., Fehrer, The Julian Academy, Paris 1868 - 1939, 1989, n.p.

 [[75]] It has been said he had only one day to prepare and four days to paint the work, op. cit., McProud, Souvenir of the Louisiana Purchase, 1904, p.174. McProud was also the author who commented the work was hung on the line.

 [[76]]Op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902.

 [[77]]Op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902.

 [[78]] “The Art Academy At The Julian Concour,” Arts For America, Vol. 7, No. 8, April 1898, p.483; op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902, and Who’s Who In Paris Anglo-American Colony. These two honors were supposed to have given him Hors Concours in the Salon Société des Artistes Français. Parker continued to study under Constant and Laurens in an effort to hone his talents. His presence was noticed by a then young Alphaeus P. Cole (1876-1988): “I must not neglect to say here that our class had in it a few men already well-known artists; old timers who came back to paint from the model for some reason or other, such as Lawton S. Parker from Chicago, with whom the master was quite friendly.” This quote taken from “An Adolescent in Paris: The Adventure of Being an Art Student Abroad in the Late Nineteenth Century,” American Art Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2, November 1976, p.112-113.

 [[79]]Op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902.

 [[80]]Op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902.

 [[81]] John Parker Diary, 1/25/1899 and 1/29/1899. The latter prize carried an award of one hundred Francs.

 [[82]] “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 2/19/1899, Part 4, p.35. The jury consisted of Jean Paul Laurens, Charles Emile Carolus-Duran, Cazin, Dagnan Bouvert and Augustus St. Gaudens. First prize was 1,000 Francs; the second prize was 600 Francs. The Clark prize was a life size portrait of a Miss Gluckner, op. cit., McProud, Souvenir of the Louisiana Purchase, 1904, p.174.

 [[83]]Catalogue Illustré du Salon de 1897 [and] 1898, (Paris: Librarie D’Art). In 1897 he showed a portrait, #1298 in the catalogue and in 1898 another portrait #1572 in the catalogue as well as The Water Fairy (location unknown), #1573 in the catalogue.

 [[84]] George Breed Zug, “The Art Of Lawton Parker,” International Studio, Vol. 57, December 1916, p.37. He was noticed by Besnard at the Ecole when he won the Prix d’Atelier. Mention of this invitation is made in John Parker Diary, 6/11/1899. A later entry, 8/24/1899, makes mention of Parker helping Besnard decorate a church. Besnard exhibited the [six] cartoons for the Hospital work at his one-man exhibition in Chicago opening April 25, 1913, in the Art Institute.

 [[85]] John Parker Diary, 5/23/1899.

 [[86]] John Parker Diary, 9/24/1899, Notes.

 [[87]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, pp.5-6.

 [[88]] John Parker Diary, 4/3/1899.

 [[89]] According to the unpublished biography of Clark by his wife Medora, Parker coordinated the trip for Clark and two other artists and met them at the train upon their arrival to help them get settled in Paris. While not so stated, this most likely was during the spring or summer of 1899. Gean Stern, Alson S. Clark, (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing Company, 1983), p11. Clark’s experiences in Whistler’s school are told on p.12.

 [[90]]Op. cit., Stern, Alson S. Clark, 1983, p.12. Clark did not enroll until “late in 1900.” Parker was also apparently friends with Alfred H. Maruer (1868-1932) who showed Parker as a referring artist when Maruer entered the Académie Julian in 1897. Maruer really had no Chicago connections to speak of and perhaps the two met through the American Art Association in Paris as suggested in Stacey B. Epstein, Alfred H. Maurer: Aestheticism to Modernism, (NY: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 11/30/1999), p.13.

 [[91]]“Art,” Sunday Chicago Tribune, 12/3/1899, p.34.

 [[92]] Isabel McDougall, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 2/24/1907 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 22, col. 3, p.130.

 [[93]] John Parker Diary, February 6, 20 and 24, 1899 and 3/18/1899. In a diary entry dated 6/28/1899, mention is made that Parker visited Whistler in his studio for “pointers for the benefit of his future schoolwork in NY.”

 [[94]] John Parker Diary, 8/15/1899 and Notes after 8/27/1899. Parker had by this time received commissions of 500 Francs for his efforts.

 [[95]] John Parker Diary, 1/21/1899. Some sources claim, incorrectly, he was a founder of this organization. In May 1890, Mr. A. A. Anderson, opened the clubhouse to artists then resident in Paris of American origin. See: E. H. Wuerpel, “American Artists’ Association Paris,” Cosmopolitan Magazine, 2/20/1896, p.402.

 [[96]] “Dr. Lawton S. Parker,” Annual Report of the Artists’ Guild, (Chicago: The Artists’ Guild, 1917), p.33, Chicago Historical Society; op. cit., “Lawton S. Parker’s Remarkable Career,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/26/1902, and Who’s Who In Paris Anglo-American Colony: “...when its name was changed to the New York School of Art [from the Chase School], was elected its first President.” The name was changed to reflect the broader scope of the student body.

 [[97]] Op. cit., Read, The Sketch Book, April 1904, p.220.

 [[98]] Op. cit., Read, The Sketch Book, April 1904, p.219.

 [[99]] Parker’s address is verified in Catalogue of the Fifteenth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 10/28/1902), p.49. Number 16 was the one-time home of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. In 1910 painter Marc Chagall had moved to the avenue.

 [[100]] “Lawton S. Parker…,” The Sketch Book, Vol. 3, No. 1, September 1903, p.28; op. cit., Printed flyer, The Art Institute of Chicago, “School Notice,” “Chicago, Sept. 20, 1902,” The school continued under Charles Cottet and Lucien Simone during his absence; op. cit., Who’s Who In Paris Anglo-American Colony, it states the school was established in the Quartier Montparnasse “which has since been remarkably successful,” and “Notes On Current Art,” Chicago Chronicle, 5/10/1901, p.8: “He recently opened a class in painting and drawing in Paris and now he has reorganized and enlarged the class, which is to be supervised by Simon and Cottet.” In 1903, the classes were taken over by George Aid. William Vernon, “News of Chicago Art and Artists,” Chicago American, 2/14/1904, pp.8, 14. There is implication the school continued into 1906 with the comment, “He has a famous school in Paris...” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 3/18/1906 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 22, col. 4, p.4.

 [[101]]Op. cit., Catalogue Illustré du Salon, (Paris: Librarie D’Art, 1897 and 1898). In 1897 his address was listed as rue de Grenelle 145.

 [[102]]Several friends who were in Paris to study stayed with Parker before finding permanent quarters including George C. Aid. Michael J. McCue, Paris & Tryon: George C. Aid and His Artistic Circles in France and North Carolina, (Columbus, NC: Condar Press, 2003), p.11.

 [[103]] Mary Louise Kane, A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, (New York: Jordan-Volpe Gallery, 1997). Kane takes her information from Académie Julian records as to Miller’s address at #9 as well as Parker being the recommending teacher for Miller’s enrollment. Miller had studied with Parker in St. Louis.

 [[104]] John Milner, The Studios Of Paris. The Capital of Art in the late Nineteenth Century, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), p.222.

Part 2

Parker’s fame was rising on both sides of the Atlantic. He had won Honorable Mention at the Salon Société des Artistes Français in 1900 [[1]] and exhibited there again in 1901. [[2]] Then in 1902, he was celebrated with a Third Class Medal at the Salon. [[3]] With these two prizes, an opinion which was highly respected by the director of the Art Institute and his successes in teaching firmly established, it was time for a triumphant return to Chicago. [[4]] A photograph of him and his prize winning picture appeared in the press, a kind of announcement of his coming. [[5]]


Parker returned to Kearny the in summer 1902, to visit his father and mother who had moved there upon their return from France in 1900. [[6]] Honored by the locals as a famous painter, the small town presented him with a gold handled cane and showered him with affectionate speeches by the dignitaries. [[7]] The award was probably also a memento of gratitude for in 1900 he had helped the Haydon Art Club (later renamed the Nebraska Art Association) with a selection of works from the Paris Universal Exhibition of art. [[8]] He was also helping Nebraska local art patron Frank M. Hall assemble a formidable art collection. [[9]]


Parker then headed for Chicago to teach at his alma mater during the 1902-1903 school term. Critic William Vernon said one of his reasons for returning was to paint portrait commissions and that he “has set up his easel at Oak Park.” [[10]] Faculty records indicate he taught from October 1902 until January 1903, two days per week. [[11]] It is very possible his hiring was in response to the increasing competition from other art schools in Chicago. [[12]] The Smith art academy had already adopted the French method of atelier teaching and by 1902, had gained considerable strength especially from its affiliation with the Académie Julian in Paris. The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, founded in October 1902, by Carl Newland Werntz (1874-1944), had enticed Oliver Dennett Grover (1860-1927), a locally famous painter and former Art Institute teacher, back into the teaching ranks; took John Warner Norton (1876-1934) from the Institute and offered Ralph Elmer Clarkson (1861-1942) a position when the Institute could not find an opening for him.


Just a month earlier, in a letter published by Chicago’s Brush and Pencil, Parker mounted an attack on the current methods of teaching art in America:


“Titian painted one of his masterpieces at the age of nineteen... Does any one suppose that he spent three or four years drawing after our methods? or that he was obliged to learn how to draw with the ‘point’ or by any other system?... What chance have we for producing a Titian under our ‘systems’? …Today art education is a sort of corporation arrangement. The student, instead of being apprenticed to a master, usually has his education mapped out by the layman, and the artist instructor is only a hired servant in some large institution... The principal advantage in Europe is the privilege of coming into close relationship with the old masters... The American school... has been shaped in its growth by the methods of a financially successful institution... on the mistaken idea that a financial success means an artistic success... But to perfect our schools, more effort should be made to send our instructors abroad.” [[13]]


Those running the Art Institute were concerned they were falling behind in the latest methods, and Parker would be their answer for experimenting with an updated program. Director French said of Parker’s coming:


“Our object is to keep the school fully up to date in ideas of the art world. We are all growing old, and I, as the oldest of the lot, am especially anxious lest we fall too much into routine. None of our advanced teachers have had the opportunity of studying in the foreign schools, or even visiting foreign countries, for quite a good many years, and under our system our younger men upon their return... get no chance at the life students at all. Parker has some ideas and is certainly as well informed as any man living with regard to the Paris school and their relations to the American schools.” [[14]]


Parker had ample experience with the new method at his position with the New York School of Art and his presence was felt throughout the school immediately. [[15]] At the end of December, director French wanted to institute some of the same changes with other teachers into the evening school curriculum as well. [[16]] The winner of the apparently first concours was announced in the papers to much fanfare and an illustration. The critic noted “There are some objections, of course, to the French concours.” But the indication was of a popular method, “His classroom the last three weeks has been packed with students…” [[17]]


Parker’s own class was very popular with the advanced life students. When the students learned his tenure was only intended to be temporary, they demanded of French he employ their master longer. [[18]] The press announced a letter had been sent to all students announcing far reaching changes for the winter term. Parker was to stay and revamp the Art Institute’s teaching methods along his idea of the French atelier system, similar to the successful methods at the New York School of Art. [[19]] This French system to which Parker subscribed was completely different from the mode of teaching in most American schools. Rather than being channeled through a series of classes and professors, the student chose his own teacher monthly. At the end of each month was held a concours to determine which student work was the best of the month. The professor then allowed the students to choose their sitting position for the next month in order of rank in the concours. If a student didn’t like his professor or didn’t care for his judgements, he could easily change to another atelier.


However, after only one month of changes, Parker resigned his teaching post on January 28, 1903. [[20]] He had introduced ideas that were supported by French but apparently weren’t exactly in accord with everyone’s wishes. Probably the most extreme change was the recommendation of elimination of diplomas in favor of prizes, medals and scholarships. One newspaper account stated, “Lawton S. Parker, a Paris artist, is largely responsible for the sweeping changes planned.” The article carried Parker’s opinion, speaking out against the practice of art students “loafing” in accord with “fascinating bohemianism [sic].” He felt a system of prizes and medals would give the students “something to work for.” [[21]]


How the politics were played is not exactly known. French had in the past been on both sides of an issue and couldn’t be depended upon for support. Parker generally upset others with his “radical ideas.” After Howard Pyle (1853-1911) criticized the methods of the school later that year it was published that:


“This artist [Parker], who had won fame in Paris, was too radical in his methods for the Chicago Art Institute’s directors. His ‘French ideas’ - insistence on perfection of technique at the same time the individuality of each pupil was given free play - did not find favor at the institute and he ceased his duties as ‘nonresident instructor’.” [[22]]


His resignation was accepted on Friday, January 30, and only two weeks later it was reported the system he had instituted was running smoothly to everyone’s delight and enrollment had increased. [[23]]


Parker immediately began a position with the competing Chicago Academy of Fine Arts on Monday, February 2, 1903. [[24]] In December 1902, the Academy had become affiliated with the New York School of Art which could well have been precipitated by Parker, who may have sensed trouble in the offing at the Art Institute. [[25]] Parker instituted his French atelier method immediately and added a new Saturday afternoon nude life sketch class. Weekend classes proved popular for the students whose jobs kept them busy during the week. [[26]] It was reported there was “perfect” harmony between the two competing schools, but that the Academy was proceeding “along experimental lines of modern methods.” [[27]] A few students left the Institute to join him at the Academy, without any urging from Parker. One of those was Wisconsin artist Merton Grenhagen (1878-1941). In an article some four decades later Grenhagen gives a hearty explanation of how much interest Parker would take in his students.


“The ‘greenhorn from Wisconsin’… was permitted to join Parker’s class, persuaded to take up oil painting, and as a result of Parker’s methods made rapid progress. He followed Parker to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where his study of a girl… was selected as the best of the group. Parker insisted that he go to Paris and submit the study to the jurists of the salon. On a scholarship he spent a year in Paris… under J. P. Laurens.” [[28]]


His students who remained at the Institute were spread among the other professors. [[29]] He had strong success at as a teacher; one account had twelve of his students paintings admitted to the Salon Société des Artistes Français. [[30]] Having already established his career as a portrait painter for many of Chicago’s elite, he attracted society women as pupils, who were, due to the success of his students, “eager on that account to make progress in their work.” [[31]] The newspapers were filled with interesting accounts of the progress of Parker’s new methods and classes. [[32]] That winter term, Parker served on his first jury, a purchase prize competition for the Young Fortnightly. Selected from works at the annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists, their prize was highly sought after as it entitled the recipient to $200, and a place in their fine collection. [[33]]


As classes ended in June, Parker stayed in Chicago to complete portrait commissions for some of the local society women. He discussed commissions of Mrs. Shrive Badger and Mrs. William Emory in the press; [[34]] and he was again at work on the [very important] commission of Art Institute trustee and respected Chicago collector, Martin Ryerson. [[35]] When later asked how he began his portrait sittings he said, “By making thirty or forty studies in pencil and colour.” [[36]]


Like most successful painters, portrait commissions were an important source of income. The Ryerson portrait was later featured in an article, which was a conversation by Parker and the writer. “The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful portrait is that one renders character and the other is a mere map of features,” Parker said. He went on to explain the details of his portrait painting methods. “It is a study of character as well as externals.” “I prefer that my sitter should not steadily pose. As he moves, talks, walks about, I can grasp here and there a characteristic point and make a note of it. Then out of a multitude of notes I select what seems best for my purpose and build up my portrait.” “Yes,” he says, “I prefer working in my sitters’ own homes. There they get over the stiff feeling of sitting for a likeness. And I prefer their own environment. I like the background to be the habitual background of their daily lives. I like to paint each person at his accustomed desk, or handling his favorite books, or seated in her own special chair. It is certainly more interesting than a ‘property’ chair, the same for all sitters, such as a photographer uses. “Light?” he answered another question: “Why should I want the strong studio light? People’s friends are not used to seeing them under the bold lights and shadows of a skylight, but in the quieter, more diffused illumination of a room.”


He continued, “I have found it safest to paint first in tempera, and then lightly glaze with oils. Certainly, other portrait painters do the same; nearly all of them.” “Yes indeed, there are many preliminaries. For instance, I made careful drawings in red chalk of the heads and of the hands in different positions. There is so much character in a hand. I made two separate paintings of the dog, for the lady’s portrait. I believe I did three different chairs. Then there is the important preparation of the canvas. Indeed, the hardest part of the work is done before I begin to paint. There are so many things to think of. See, I have placed the gentleman close to the window. He gets its direct effect, because, to my thinking, a bold even harsh light is suitable to a man. But the lady is somewhat removed, so that the sharpest note will be on her gown, while higher up there will be a softening and diffusing of light that befits the gentler subject.”


When asked what is required of a portrait painter Parker concluded “First and last, study of character, but also the workman’s knowledge of his tools, acquaintance with the chemical action of his paints.” [[37]]


Traveling as frequently as he did between school terms, he commented, “As much as I like Chicago, I am not prepared to settle down just yet, though I have promised to return here next December. Art conditions in the West are far from discouraging.” [[38]] Students remarked he was a “first rate teacher,” critic Edward Holden said he was an “important factor in art instruction.” [[39]] Parker went to France for the summer where he found pleasant weather just off the Brittany coast in Pont-Aven, [[40]] and visited Holland. [[41]] We know from the diary and unpublished book by Medora Clark that Parker, Alson Clark, Frieseke and Guy Rose traveled through Brittany that summer as well. [[42]] Parker took time to visit other Chicagoans in the area including the wealthy Mrs. E. J. Martyn who had come to Brittany for the art instruction and encouragement of her daughter Hazel. [[43]]


Upon his return from France in December 1903, [[44]] he was given a reception at an Academy housewarming. They had recently moved to new quarters and taken 14,000 square feet to have enough space to meet demand of new incoming students. [[45]] During the winter term he again gave criticisms to the advanced students. [[46]] Always in demand for a comment on art education, Parker was quoted as saying, “One of the essential things in an artist is the ability to make a pleasing arrangement.” While stating the obvious, he was trying to comment on the importance of both composition and technique. [[47]]


In January, the annual exhibition of Chicago artists opened at the Art Institute. Parker had returned to Chicago to complete his important portrait of Martin Ryerson [[48]] for the University of Chicago. The piece was lent to the exhibition by trustee Charles Hutchinson. Critic Lena McCauley, said the piece “dominated” the main gallery, with its “place of honor” on the West wall. [[49]] Director French considered lending a photograph of it to the magazine World To-Day to illustrate an article by Will Low on the Art Institute. [[50]]


Parker’s spent a disappointingly short time in Chicago as he was called to New York to take charge of Francis Luis Mora’s (1874-1940) class at the New York School of Art. Mora was in St. Louis working on the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (properly known as the Universal Exposition). [[51]] There appears to have been some misunderstanding as the students at the Academy in Chicago thought he was to open a class throughout the Winter and Spring, as intimated in an earlier November advertisement. [[52]] It is probable he stood to earn quite a bit more teaching at the well established New York school than at the newly formed Academy. This time, the newspapers reported, it was the Paris students who anxiously awaited “the coming of Lawton Parker.” Alluding to the success of his school in Paris, he was in an enviable position of triangulating his teaching between three schools and regular portrait commissions. As the critic said, “And yet some say artists have no business qualification.” [[53]] This prescient comment by Vernon, was a small item on the future of Lawton Parker and his business acumen and later accumulation of money and a life of leisure.


The Universal Exposition, which opened on April 30 in St. Louis, brought Parker a Silver medal, along with his American friends in Paris, Frederick Frieseke, Richard E. Miller (1875-1943), George Charles Aid (1872-1938), Henry Salem Hubbell (1870-1949) and Alfred Henry Maurer (1868-1932). Three of Parker’s works were accepted including his portrait of Ryerson, lent by the University of Chicago. As had become his custom, he left that summer for Paris, [[54]] and then traveled a bit from there, arriving in Venice where he met up with Alson Skinner Clark, before returning to Paris. [[55]] The Clarks apartment became a sort of meeting place for several American artists including Parker, Frederick Frieseke, Will Howe Foote (1874-1965) and Eugene Ullman. [[56]]


By at least February 1905, Parker was again a regular teacher at the Academy in Chicago. [[57]] He had returned to both teach and complete the increasing flow of portrait commissions. [[58]] One might make the analogy that he was becoming Chicago’s John Singer Sargent. We surmise he was in Spain during the summer 1905, although his activities there, other than the probable study of works by the great Spanish painter Velázquez, are unknown. [[59]] He was back in Chicago by August 1905 to “execute commissions for portraits,” although he hadn’t yet located a studio. [[60]]


In the fall, while working in Chicago, he received another major prize. A Gold Medal at the International Exposition in Munich was awarded his painting Une Anglaise or An English Girl. [[61]] It had been chosen for the Munich show from among those exhibited at the 1905 Salon Société des Artistes Français where it had been hung in the Gallery of Honor. [[62]] The image explored in this painting is of a well dressed woman peering in the mirror. [[63]] Her face is not shown to the viewer except through reflection in the mirror. Author Jean Stern points out the use of this motif by Alson Clark in 1905 with his wife Medora, as the model. Later in 1906, Medora posed of Parker on “several occasions.” A comparison of Parker’s work with Clark’s Les Colliers shows clearly Medora is not the model for the prize-winning picture. [[64]] Parker gained a significant amount of coverage from this one painting. [[65]] The painting traveled to numerous venues and was shown as late as September 1919 at the annual American show in the St. Louis Art Museum. Parker obviously enjoyed the fourteen-year run of publicity the painting must have garnered. [[66]]


Parker was connected well enough in Paris to have the influence of French Minister of Art, Andre Saglio in persuading the Art Institute to allow him control of installation of the exhibition by contemporary French artists. [[67]] It is more than likely that Parker was the one who selected the works in Paris for the exhibition. [[68]] The show received favorable reviews in the press, but possibly due to Parker’s influence, director French was less than enthusiastic in his letter to Saglio. [[69]] Already at odds with Parker and his large influence with the trustees of the museum, the feud between the two influential men would continue to intensify until French’s death in 1914. It is an important indication of Parker’s influence that his introduction of French atelier teaching methods had a large, and almost complete influence upon the Art Institute. [[70]] In this respect, like it or not, Parker’s influence upon the school which William French guided, would be long lasting. [[71]]


The final written confirmation of the severing of relations between French and Parker came as Parker was seeking another teaching position at the school:


“I ought, perhaps, in honesty to say that I am not willing, for the present, to have you connected with our school. Whether the troubles we had before were intentional on your part or unintentional, there would be risk of their recurrence, and that risk I think I should be foolish to incur. I would never be guilty of endeavoring to injure you in any way, but it appears to me too much to ask that you should be engaged as a teacher in the school again.” [[72]]


We do not know exactly what these “troubles” were. There was never a mention in the Press and a thorough search of French’s correspondence added no light. French believed Parker was pushing to be named general director of the Art Institute and would use his teaching position to achieve this in lock step fashion. [[73]] French had been on the job for some thirty years and likely would have retained other responsibilities. This clearly put the two at direct odds with each other. They had enjoyed a cordial and active relationship dating back to 1888. A position as head of the country’s largest school and an important museum would certainly secured Parker his much sought-after permanent residence in Chicago.


Following this refusal, he opened a special portraiture class in spring 1906, at the Academy. [[74]] His importance to that school was such that his name was listed first in its advertisements among the fifteen other teachers. [[75]] As was his norm, he left for the summer, this time for Spain, then most likely back to Paris. [[76]]


Several contemporary sources have put Parker’s appearance in Giverny sometime between 1902 and the summer 1906. [[77]] It seems probable that the latest date is the earliest he arrived as it would be fours years after 1906, when he first exhibited works showing the new light motif. It is more likely he arrived in Giverny somewhere between 1908 and 1910. Also, he was in Spain during the summer 1906. “Giverny is a quaint little peasant village an hour out of Paris. The houses are all on one road, with a great hill, very decoratively laid out in small fields, banking one side of the road, and the beautiful country of Eure, through which flows the Seine, on the other.” [[78]] The Giverny experience must have made Parker think long and hard. Never one given to rash acts, always thoughtful and concerned about the business implications of his work, he must have experimented and experimented further, until he felt safe in exhibiting canvases with this new color palette. This brand of American Impressionism, painting in the out-of-doors in bright Plein-air sunlight, was far, far removed from his primarily portrait work with models indoors under indirect light.


Back in Chicago again by fall 1906, Parker was hard at work on portrait commissions in new quarters at the Tree Studios. [[79]] “The difference between a successful and unsuccessful portrait is that one renders character and the other is a mere map of features...,” expounded Parker. He continued that by painting his subjects in their own home, not holding any specific pose, he could grasp characteristics which he could then blend into a portrait. [[80]] The natural light of their home was where their friends were accustomed to seeing them, not in the “strong studio light.” Parker described the intricate process of painting all canvases first in shades gray before the portrait was begun, and grounding paints so female skin would be fine and painting thin pigment diluted to a glaze. He found it “safest to paint first in tempera then lightly glaze with oils,” all to prevent the dulling of colors over time. This method was his solution to premier coup, or the French method which tends to darken, of painting directly upon the white canvas. In summary, the artist had to both be a keen observer of character and wise to the use of his tools and chemicals and paints. [[81]] One would think Whistler had a strong effect upon Lawton Parker. Portrait commissions continued to come, and he seemed to have developed a penchant for “university men.” [[82]]


When William French wrote to Parker about whether The English Girl should be in competition for awards at the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago January 1907, he was as detached as possible. [[83]] French was trying to imply Parker had asked the painting not to be considered for prize competition, which seems unlikely. The painting garnered a significant amount of press coverage when it was give a “place of honor” in the largest gallery. [[84]] One article noted it was “Among the works most discussed by the jurors…” [[85]] Another noted at $2,000, it was the highest priced work in the exhibition. [[86]] In an evening of burlesque by students of the Art Institute to raise funds for a Mardi Gras float, a caricature of the painting was “knocked down for 25 cents.” [[87]] Despite the request by Parker regarding competition, the Chicago Society of Artists voted the painting its highest honor. Parker was the fourth artist awarded the annual silver medal by the organization which was in control of the most important art activities in Chicago. [[88]]


Another notable portrait was recognized in the newspapers. Most likely written by regular art critic Lena M. McCauley, the subject was a successful interpretation of Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson. Parker’s earlier portrait of Mr. Ryerson was shown at the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists show in 1904 and Salon Société des Artistes Français in 1905. At the Fall 1907 exhibition of American artists, he won the Martin B. Cahn prize for the best work by a Chicagoan for his portrait of Mr. Ryerson. [[89]] The husband-and-wife piece was the result of his integration of Mrs. Ryerson with her husband, a subject Parker knew extremely well. His familiarity with the subjects must have been the impetus for a fine work. Seen at Thurber Gallery, McCauley said of the piece it, “…exhibit [s] the maturity of Mr. Parker’s art.” She used phrases such as “strength” and “dignity” to describe the likeness with “an element of repose and beauty.” [[90]]


It was clear Parker was now planing to continue shuttling between Paris and Chicago now that a permanent position was not available in his favored city. To benefit this arrangement, he proposed the Franco-American Art Committee. The purpose of the committee was to promote the exhibition and sale of French artists’ works in the United States. Parker had his taste of the possible success the prior year at the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture where his French selections were accorded a small gallery. The Art Institute trustees had been aggressive and avid collectors of French art, something which is reflected today in the strength of the museum collection. Other members of the committee included Art Institute of Chicago trustee and chairman Charles L. Hutchinson, trustee Stanley McCormick of the powerful McCormick family in Chicago and wealthy industrialist and retired businessman painter Frederic Clay Bartlett. [[91]] It is unclear why Parker pushed the formation and promotion of the organization, ever the businessman, it is possible he saw an opportunity to represent sales in this country. [[92]]


In October 1907, Parker reportedly left Chicago for Philadelphia ostensibly to join William Merritt Chase for the winter. [[93]] However, it is likely the reporter was slightly misinformed as Chase was in New York and only commuted to Philadelphia once a week to teach at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. By November, it is confirmed he was in New York, and Newton H. Carpenter of the Art Institute was questioning his residency. Carpenter quoted “some of the artists” who said, “you told them you were leaving the city for good.” [[94]] But a newspaper account said, “Mr. Parker himself, however, declares he is a Chicago man… He, however, considered this his headquarters and home, and even now that he is engaged in teaching with Chase in New York, retains a studio here, and expects to return.” [[95]] He finished his portrait of then deceased Nelson Morris from studies made earlier in the Spring. One critic commented, “Even the hands are expressive.” [[96]]


Parker’s address for the next few years was Paris at 7 Passage Stanislas, oddly enough next to the site of Whistler’s Académie Carmen where he had studied in 1898, at #6. However, he must have been in Chicago to paint the portrait of Norman Waite Harris, which was exhibited in the Fall 1908, Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture. [[97]] The painting had previously been shown at the Salon Société des Artistes Français. Mr. Harris was a wealthy Chicago banker and the founder of the prize after his name which carried a $500 award at the American show. The papers reported the piece was given [Parker’s usual] place of honor in the center of the wall. [[98]] Early the next year he was back in Chicago, most likely to work on more portrait commissions. [[99]]


An investment in artist studios on the fourth floor of the Beil & Hermant building, 19-21 E. Pearson, encouraged Parker to spend more time in Chicago and less time in Paris. As early as 1902, there had been an overriding demand for more apartment/studios in the city. [[100]] Carl Beil and Leon Hermant were architectural sculptors who occupied at least the first floor of the building and leased the top fourth floor to Parker. Beil was exceptionally well known as he had been the superintendent of sculpture for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. “The building is attractive... the upper floor enjoys an unobstructed north light.” [[101]]


Parker must have thoroughly impressed by then famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They no doubt met as early as 1895 when Wright built his Oak Park studio on the same block where Charles A. Purcell lived, son-in-law of W. C. Gray, not far from the Gray’s own residence. [[102]] Wright rarely (a handful) executed interior spaces, and then only for wealthy clients. Wright and Parker probably came into close contact through many avenues, including Wright’s 1907 interior commission for Browne’s bookstore, in the Fine Arts Building. Parker had shared a studio in the building with Browne’s brother, Chicago painter Charles Francis Browne, earlier in 1902 and had also spent considerable time there conducting classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. [[103]] The earliest plans are dated May 24, 1908. Subsequent plans show a sophisticated two-level studio and living space with much of the beauty of Wright’s Prairie School architecture. [[104]]


Parker took one of the upper studios and gave the other to Wellington Jarard Reynolds (1866-1949), who only stayed one year. [[105]] Remaining units were rented to other artists. The units consisted both of a studio and living quarters, like the popular Tree Studio Building nearby which housed a thriving artist colony. [[106]]


“Mr. Parker lives in an interesting and unusual studio in Pearson street. The interior is most ingeniously divided and subdivided so that Mr. Parker has a collection of seven or eight different rooms or cells clustering about his fair sized studio. [[107]]


He attracted wealthy society women, who were painters and his private students, to rent space, including Mrs. John Alden Carpenter [Rue Winterbotham] [[108]] (c.1880-1931), [[109]] Mrs. Cecil Clark Davis (1877-1955), [[110]] Mrs. (Marshall) Virginia Keep Clark (1878-1962), and Mrs. (Arthur) Emily Maria Borie Ryerson (1863-1939). [[111]] Others who took space in the studio building were music critic James Whittaker, Mrs. George Kretzinger and her artist daughter Clara (1883-after 1940), painter Martha Susan Baker (1871-1911 ), Poetry Magazine staff member Eunice Tietjens (1884-1944), artist Raymond Jonson (1891-1981), [[112]] artist Grace Hickox [Harrison] (dates unknown), [[113]] sculptress Nancy Cox McCormack [Cushman] (1885-1967), [[114]] Art Institute professor and friend from Giverny Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952) [[115]] and head of decorative design at the Art Institute, Louis J. Millet (1856-1923).


Buher and Parker had been friends for many years from Chicago. Buehr rented from Parker in Giverny and the two of them painted the same models and in one known instance, Le dejeuner sur l’herbe, by Buehr and Midsummer Idyll by Parker, painted almost identical pictures of a woman seated at picnic in the grass with her tea set and parasol. [[116]]


The proximity gave these society women ample access to Parker’s instruction. [[117]] Mrs. (Robert) Grace Farwell McGann (1868-1949) was also under Parker’s tutelage. Among the wealthiest Chicagoans she and her family lived in the former Farwell mansion at 120 E. Pearson, just down the street, where they used the old ballroom as a studio. [[118]] An apt description of such increasingly common studios was mentioned in comment on a new studio Mrs. McGann was planning to build:


“The principal feature is the lofty studio with the balcony at one end. The work shop (to give it a homely, practical name) is generally high enough to permit two stories of small rooms to be built back of it for the apparatus of living, the studio being large enough to serve, if necessary, as a living room and dining room…These east and west streets are necessary in order to insure the required north light for the ateliers.” [[119]]


Throughout 1910, Parker’s usual portraits of important persons were shown, including one of Mrs. Norman Waite Harris, whose husband he had painted two years earlier. [[120]] Heretofore, this was all he had exhibited; paintings of persons in various stages of quiet meditation, in regal poses or among their favorite possessions at home. The study of Mrs. Harris had been called “one of the best portraits exhibited…of unusual quality.” [[121]] January, though, brought the first hint of change in Parker’s public exhibition. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he showed A Modern Eve and Four Leaf Clover; titles evocative of outdoor painting. A March commentary by critic Lena M. McCauley announced the coming of a change in his work. While his portrait of Mrs. Norman W. Harris was to be “accepted as the fulfillment of the artist’s promise in portraiture of former years,” the palette was “not so somber as that of the portrait of Mr. Harris painted earlier.” This and a painting of Miss Potter, “show the advance that Mr. Parker has made in recent times toward a more fluent expression.” [[122]] The Sunday Record-Herald carried a short note saying Parker was back in town in his new studio building with decorations designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. [[123]] He had been working the past summer on Plein-air nudes to create a series of outdoor portraits. [[124]]


 [[1]] Rowland Sheldon, “Two American Artists Distinguished Abroad: Lawton Parker and C. Arnold Slade,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 30, May 1914, illustration p.243. This painting, My Model, was completed in only one week. Henry Kitchell Webster said Parker had prepared a painting for the Paris world’s fair of 1900 but a broken stove pipe spewed soot on the work, realizing he had time to enter the regular Salon Société des Artistes Français, he readied the painting which won him the award. See: op. cit., Webster, Collier’s, 1/31/1914, p.23.

 [[2]] He showed L'age d'or #1562.

 [[3]] Op. cit., Sheldon, Fine Arts Journal, illustration p.244. This prize was for his painting Mrs. Leonard Woods, of Pittsburgh. “Salon Medals To Americans,” Chicago Tribune, 6/1/1902, p.13.

 [[4]] Letter from William M. R. French to Caroline D. Wade 9/25/1900, p.4, and letter from French to Parker, 11/2/1900, p.6, French letter archives, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago. (Letters which are hereinafter referred to French letter archives, are on microfilm.) These letters indicate French, director of the Art Institute, had begun to depend upon Parker for his input and taste. The latter letter was an indication Parker had helped secure paintings from Americans in Paris for the annual American show at the Art Institute. Parker was active that year in securing fifty-five works from France for the annual Nebraska Art Association exhibition. Theses paintings were combined with about thirty-five from the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute, and formed the nucleus of the Nebraska show, see: “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/8/1900, p.8.

 [[5]] William Vernon, “Paintings of Lawton Parker, an Old Chicagoan, Will Attract Attention - Has Followed Art 22 Years,” Chicago American, 10/18/1902, p.3. The painting illustrated was not, however, the proper work. His Portrait of Mrs. W, (Mrs. Leonard Woods) was illustrated in an article by James Ford Buell concerning the annual showing by American artists at the Art Institute of Chicago: “Chicago’s Fifteenth Annual Art Exhibition,” Brush and Pencil, Vol. 11, No. 4, January 1903, p.307. Buell stated Parker’s canvas was direct, without “trick of brush work.” He felt because it wasn’t painted with exhibition in mind, it represented a truer form of portraiture, see pp.301-302. The work had previously been exhibited at the Art Institute in the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, and was illustrated in Edmund Buckley, “Art,” World To-Day, Vol. 3, December 1902, p.2156, as a worthy opponent of the Harris prize winning painting by Walter McEwen.

 [[6]] Parker’s father had taken ill and died later that year. Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.6.

 [[7]] “Lawton Parker Artist,” Compiled and printed for Lawton and Mrs. Parker by Maud Marston Burrows, Kearney, Nebraska, 1931, original typescript document courtesy of Kirk Edgar, Los Angeles. Transcription of newspaper article: L. B. Cunningham, Editor, “Lawton Parker Reception,” Kearney, Nebraska, 8/20/1902, p.15.

 [[8]] Fred N. Wells, The Nebraska Art Association A History 1888-1971, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1972), pp.11-12.

 [[9]] Norman A. Geske, Art and Artists in Nebraska, (Lincoln: Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, 2/11-3/28/1982), pp.27,46. The Hall collection was left to the University of Nebraska, which is now in the Sheldon along with the collection of the Nebraska Art Association. Information relating to this connection is courtesy of Janet G. Smith. It is possible Geske relied on information compiled in op. cit., Wells, The Nebraska Art Association A History 1888-1971, p.19, that specifically states Hall depended upon Parker’s advice.

 [[10]] “Chicago Flower Painter Wins Recognition in the French City. Artists Are Coming Back to Town,” Chicago American, 9/22/1902, p.3.

 [[11]] Microfilm contract, Ryerson Library archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

 [[12]] Art critic William Vernon had commented on the competition between the three Chicago art schools in “Professor George Ford Morris Promises a Treat to Pupils That Attend Classes in the Fine Arts Building This Winter,” Chicago American, 10/19/1902, Section 1, p.2.

 [[13]] Letter dated Paris, September 1, 1902, Brush and Pencil, Vol. 2, No. 1, October 1902, pp.11-16.

 [[14]] Letter to Caroline D. Wade from French, French letter archives, 7/16/1902, p.675.

 [[15]] The school in New York was founded on the same principles. A student entered life drawing immediately and his work was judged at monthly concours which carried prizes. Spencer H. Coon, “The Work Of William M. Chase As Artists And Teacher,” Metropolitan Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4, May 1897, p.310.

 [[16]] Letter to Charles E. Boutwood from French, French letter archives, 10/30/1902, p.231.

 [[17]] Edward G. Holden, “In The Field of Art: Concours at Institute,” Chicago Tribune, 12/21/1902, Section 6, p.50.

 [[18]] “Rewards To Keep Art From Loafing,” Daily Inter Ocean, 1/1/1903, Part 1, p.11. That the students had already begun agitating for his continuation is found in Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/15/1902, p.14. In the same article, McCauley found his entry in the annual exhibition of American artists “one of the striking pictures of the exhibition.”

 [[19]] The system was thoroughly described in op. cit., Daily Inter Ocean, 1/1/1903, Part 1, p.11 and “Changes At Art Institute,” Chicago Record-Herald, 1/2/1903, p.14.

 [[20]] “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/31/1903, p.8, and “In The Field of Art,” “Art Notes,” Chicago Tribune, 2/1/1903, Part 5, p.37.

 [[21]]Op. cit., Daily Inter Ocean, 1/1/1903, Part 1, p.11. See also: op. cit., Chicago Record-Herald, 1/2/1903, p.14. At least one other source has stated diplomas were eliminated in 1906. The article clearly states, diplomas were being abolished in 1902, but that anyone who had entered school prior could obtain a diploma if they so wished.

 [[22]] William Vernon, “Howard Pyle, America’s Greatest Illustrator, Points Finger at Alleged Defect,” Chicago American, 12/4/1903 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 19, p.72.

 [[23]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/14/1903, p.8.

 [[24]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 2/1/1903, Part 5, p.37.

 [[25]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/20/1902, p.14.

 [[26]] “The Chicago Academy Of Fine Arts,” The Sketch Book, Vol. 3, No. 8, April 1904, p.268.

 [[27]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 1/31/1903, p.8.

 [[28]] Grenhagen also attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts around the time Parker had gone there. Russell B. Pyre, “As Artist I Chose Sincerity Over Gain, Genhagen Says,” Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, 11/24/1940.

 [[29]] Edward G. Holden, “In the Field of Art,” “Art Notes,” Chicago Tribune, 2/15/1903, Part 5, p.42.

 [[30]] “In the Field of Art: A Life Class Concours,” Chicago Tribune, 3/22/1903, Part 5, p.47. This account of success is somewhat confusing as it isn’t clear if these were Art Institute students of Academy students.

 [[31]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 3/22/1903, Part 5, p.47.

 [[32]] See for example, op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 3/22/1903, Part 5, p.47., and “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/28/1903, p.8.

 [[33]] “Chicago Artists’ Work Is Shown,” Chicago Chronicle, 2/4/1903, p.12. The Young Fortnightly was the junior group of the Fortnightly club, still in existence. The club was described in, “Club Women’s Work,” AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 9, 1896, p.16.

 [[34]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/23/1903, p.14. Portraits of Mrs. Badger and Mrs. Emory were later illustrated in the “In the Field of Art,” Chicago Tribune, 6/14/1903, Part 5, p.39.

 [[35]] In the city, Charles Francis Browne shared with him his studio in the Fine Arts building where he worked on portraits of Martin Ryerson, and three others. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/27/1902, p.8.

 [[36]] Op. cit., Zug, The International Studio, December 1915, p.38. Parker further explained, “Our faces are not made of marble; they do things. The question is not whether eye matches eye or ear corresponds to ear; it is rather whether the head and the figure are vital, are full of the life peculiar to this one person.”

 [[37]]Interview with Lawton Parker, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 12/2/1906, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 22, p.84.

 [[38]] Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 5/23/1903, p.14.

 [[39]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 6/14/1903, Part 5, p.39.

 [[40]] “Fall Comes in Paris,” Chicago Tribune, 9/13/1903, p.13. The port town is located 9 km inland on the Aven River.

 [[41]] Op. cit., The Sketch Book, September 1903, p.28, the article saying he went directly from Holland to Paris. In R. H. Love’s Louis Ritman, From Chicago to Giverny, (Chicago: Hasse-Mumm, 1989), p.87, he states, unfortunately without documentation, “During the summer of 1903, Parker devoted much time to painting in Holland. He also went to Giverny, where he stayed briefly before leaving with Guy Rose, Alson Skinner Clark, and Frederick Frieseke on a painting trip to Brittany.” Mary Louis Kane implies Parker arrived first in 1906, in op. cit., A Bright Oasis, The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, p.26. It is doubtful either are correct as discussed later.

 [[42]] Gean Stern, Alson S. Clark, (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing Company, 1983), p.16.

 [[43]]“Wins Fame In Art: Hazel Martyn of Chicago Applauded by Foreign Critics,” Chicago Tribune, 10/25/1903, p.1.

 [[44]]He arrived in the U. S. on 11/28/1903, having departed from Southampton, England. Passenger Record, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

 [[45]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 8/29/1903, p.8. The article also mentioned he needed to continue work on local portrait commissions.

 [[46]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/12/1903, p.10. An advertisement in the Sketch Book announced he was leaving Paris in November to carry on portrait commissions and instruct classes. [Advertisement], Sketch Book, Vol. 3, No. 3, November 1903, p.4A.

 [[47]] “In The Field Of Art: Art’s Demands,” Chicago Tribune, 1/3/1904, Part 4, p.30.

 [[48]]The Sketch Book, Vol. III, No. 4, December 1903, p.123. He was also working on a portrait of Miss Hazel Martyn. “Hazel Martyn was the daughter of a Chicago industrialist of Irish descent. In 1904, she was on holiday in Brittany, where she met British artist John Lavery, thirty years her senior, who had been a widower since 1891. Hazel was engaged to a Canadian doctor (Trudeau), who died shortly after their marriage; and, in 1910, she married John, becoming Lady Lavery in 1918 when he received his knighthood.” Quoted from

 [[49]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/30/1904, p.8.

 [[50]] Letter to Charles L. Hutchinson from French, French letter archives, 1/25/1904, p.823.

 [[51]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/6/1904, p.10. Mora was in St. Louis working on the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. See also: “New York School Of Art,” The Sketch Book, Vol. 3, No. 5, January 1904, p.143.

 [[52]] Op. cit., [Advertisement], Sketch Book, November 1903, p.4A.

 [[53]] Op. cit., Vernon, Chicago American, 2/14/1904, pp.8, 14.

 [[54]] His works Portrait Mlle. Wilder #1383 and Portrait Mme. Shreve-Badger #1384 appeared in the 1904 Salon Société des Artistes Français.

 [[55]] Jean Stern, “Alson Clark,” California Light 1900-1930, (Laguna Beach: Laguna Art Museum, 1990), p.117.

 [[56]] op. cit., Stern, California Light 1900-1930, p.117.

 [[57]] Carol Aus student record, Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, February through May, 1905, IHAP Library.

 [[58]] James W. Pattison, “Chicago Artists Are Keeping Busy,” Chicago Daily Journal, 9/16/1905, p.8. The article said he and some other artists (most likely Alson Clark) from Paris would locate in Chicago and that he was working nominally from the Tree Studio building. “Mr. Parker paints chiefly at the residences of his patrons, in order to secure the atmosphere and environment.” At this point, Parker had taken residence in Evanston, just north of Chicago, which would have been located close to his patrons on the North Shore.

 [[59]] Maude I. G. Oliver, “Gossip of the Artists,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 6/8/1913 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 30, col. 1, p.125. He had almost claimed a second-class medal at the Salon Société des Artistes Français with his painting English Girl, executed c.1905, but he had traveled to Spain instead of remaining in Paris to champion his own cause.

 [[60]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 8/12/1905, p.7.

 [[61]] “Lawton Parker,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 10/15/1905, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 21, col. 2, p.87. His picture is illustrated with the article. She was identified as “Miss Mabel Gains” [Gaines], in Bulletin Of The Art Institute Of Chicago, Vol. 5, No. 4, April 1912, frontice. Apparently, Alfred H. Maurer also won a gold medal at the same exhibit.

 [[62]] “American Works in Salon,” New York Times, 4/29/1905. “Two Paintings Shown At Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists,” Chicago Tribune, 1/30/1907, [illustration], p.3. The German government had offered to purchase the work. Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 12/2/1906 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 22, col. 2, p.84. Parker knew it was a masterpiece and it is certain expected to benefit more from exhibiting it around the United States than selling it. The work had been exhibited at the 1905 Salon Société des Artistes Français, #1450. Nicholas Kilmer, “Frederick Carl Frieseke: A Biography,” in Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001) incorrectly states Frieseke won the Gold Medal in 1905 on p.31; however, Frieseke won the Gold Medal at the same exhibition in 1904.

 [[63]] Op. cit., Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 12/2/1906. The work was hung in the gallery of honor in Paris. “American Works In Salon,” New York Times, 4/29/1905.

 [[64]] Op. cit., Stern, California Light 1900-1930, pp.117-122 and illustrations 116, 121, 122. Parker’s painting is owned by the city of Kearney, Nebraska.

 [[65]] In January 1906, it was invited to the annual exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; May 1906, invited to the American annual at the Cincinnati Art Museum; January 1907 saw it return to Chicago for the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists at the Art Institute where it helped Parker win the Chicago Society of Artists highest annual award, the Silver Medal. In April 1907, the painting garnered an Honorable Mention at the annual exhibit of the Carnegie Institute: “Paintings Awarded Carnegie Prizes At Pittsburgh Exhibition,” Chicago Tribune, 4/12/1907, p.3. In December 1907, the painting was shown at the winter exhibit of the National Academy of Design. The painting seemed to follow the artist around. It was exhibited at the portrait show for the benefit of Passavant Hospital at the Art Institute in 1910 and then directly afterward when his one man exhibition opened at Thurber’s galley in Chicago.

 [[66]]In 1921, the Kearney library board inquired about purchasing one of his paintings. Parker instead made the gift of this valuable painting to the library to be hung “In memory of my father and mother who loved the Home Town and all associated with its early history from the time they settled on the farm…” Quoted from op. cit., Freeman essay, p.10. A slightly different version of the quotation, with the same meaning, appears in Margaret Stines Nielsen, “Looking Back On Kearney’s Anniversaries,” Buffalo Tales, Buffalo County Historical Society, Vol. 21, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1998, p.5. The work now hangs in the Museum of Nebraska Art. In 1914, it was shown at the summer exhibit of the Chicago Society of Artists at the Art Institute and in 1915, it was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. In 1918, the painting appeared at the Detroit Museum of Art for the annual American exhibition.

 [[67]]See the exhibition catalogue Paintings of Contemporary French Artists, at the Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago. The show opened 10/19/1905.

 [[68]] “Art Exhibits In Chicago,” New York Herald, 10/29/1905 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 21, col. 3, p.97: “… are represented by works chosen from the Paris exhibitions of last season by a special representative of the Institute.” The reporter said other critics pronounced them “a revelation.”

 [[69]] Letter to Andre Saglio, Ministere des Beaux-Arts, from French, French letter archives, 10/23/1905, p.234.

 [[70]] This influence is very clear in, Letter to Mr. [Frederick H. C.] Sammons from French, French letter archives, 8/28/1906, p.405. “Mr. Parker has the ear of the people most influential in the Art Institute…”

 [[71]] Letter to Professor E. Woodward, Newcomb College, from French, French letter archives, 1026/1905, p.254.

 [[72]] Letter to Parker from French, French letter archives, 2/8/1906, p.647.

 [[73]] Letter to Miss C. [Caroline] D. [Dupee] Wade from French, French letter archives, 10/26/1906, p.751.

 [[74]] “Educational,” advertisement, Chicago Tribune, 3/1/1906, p.7. Op. cit., Chicago Sunday Record-Herald 3/18/1906. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/3/1906, p.9. He did not teach again in 1907, as noted in the Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/29/1907, p.10, although he judged a scholarship contest for the school that year. One author has said he later became president of the Academy in 1915, however, no evidence of this can be found and the commentary, unfortunately, does not carry a footnote, see: Richard H. Love, The Paintings of Louis Ritman (1889-1963), (Chicago: Signature Galleries, 1975), p.208.

 [[75]] Artists’ Blue Book of Chicago, (Chicago: S. R. Winchell, 1906), p.12.

 [[76]] Op. cit., Sunday Record-Herald 3/18/1906. Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 3/3/1906, p.9. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/10/1906, p.5.

 [[77]] No published sources offer footnotes for substantiation of his arrival in Giverny. The author has contacted many of these authors and each has confirmed they are not sure of the date. Mary Louise Kane states that Guy Rose purchased a cottage at Giverny in 1904, Frederick Frieseke was there by 1905, and Parker arrived in 1906. Op. cit., A Bright Oasis, The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, p.26. Frieseke’s grandson says that his grandfather arrived in 1900. Nicholas Kilmer, A Retrospective Exhibition Of The Work Of F. C. Frieseke, (San Francisco: Maxwell Galleries, 1982), p.14. Ilene Susan Fort recounts Parker was there first in 1904, to paint the model outdoors. “The Cosmopolitan Guy Rose,” op. cit., California Light 1900-1930, p.97. Richard H. Love gives his arrival in Giverny at 1903. Op. cit., Louis Ritman, From Chicago to Giverny, p.87. William H. Gerdts relates that Parker had settled in Giverny in 1903. Monet’s Giverny: An Impressionist Colony, (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), p.179. David Sellin states he arrived in Giverny “around 1902.” Americans in Brittany and Normandy 1860-1910, (Phoenix: Phoenix Art Museum, 1982), p.220. Sellin later incorrectly states (confirmed by Sellin) that Parker purchased a house in Giverny: David Sellin, “Frieseke in Le Pouldu and Giverny…,” Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p.78. Meredith Martindale said he was there in 1906. Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist, (Washington, DC: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1990), p.65. Helen Schretlen states he arrived in 1902, “The William & Anna Singer Collection,” American Art Review, Vol. XIX, No. 1, 2007, p.101. Most reliably, though, is George Breed Zug’s account in 1915: “Always a student… Parker could not rest content… and hence his move a few years ago to Giverny…” Op. cit., International Studio, December 1915, p.42. A “few” means four or five years at most, not ten.

 [[78]] Karl Anderson, “Anderson’s Impressions,” The Bellman, Vol. VIII, No. 190, Minneapolis, March 5, 1910, p.292.

 [[79]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/19/1907, p.11. He was expected to remain in Chicago through the spring and had let his studio in Paris to fellow artist Harriet Blackstone. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/23/1907, p.5.

 [[80]] Perhaps the portrait he painted of architect Louis Sullivan was one such figure piece. Parker later offered to donate the portrait to a hall of fame for architects. “Plan ‘Hall Of Fame’ For Chicago Architects,” Chicago Tribune, 6/9/1915, p.6.

 [[81]] Op. cit., Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 12/2/1906.

 [[82]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/17/1906, p.12. His portrait of Henry Pratt Judson of the University of Chicago was hung in Thurber’s Art Gallery and had achieved positive remarks from all “that have visited it.”

 [[83]] Letter to Lawton Parker from William French, French letter archives, 12/7/1906 – 8/2/1907, no date, p.350.

 [[84]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/2/1907, p.7.

 [[85]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 1/29/1907, p.3.

 [[86]] “Art Exhibit To Open,” Chicago Record-Herald, 1/29/1907, p.3.

 [[87]] “Art Students Use Novel Plan to Raise ‘Mardi Gras’ Fund,” Chicago Tribune, 2/9/1907, p.5.

 [[88]] The prize was offered from 1903 to 1925, twenty-three times. Two prize winners moved from Illinois and five were sculptors. Of the remaining prize winners, ten are featured in this book with essays. It was announced as the “gold medal” in op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 2/23/1907, p.5.

 [[89]] The prize piece was illustrated in the regular news, not in the art sections, by the Chicago Daily News, 11/18/1907, p.4, and Chicago Tribune, 11/20/1907, p.5.

 [[90]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/13/1907, p.7.

 [[91]] Bartlett would later donate the now famous work by Georges Seraut’s, Un dimanche après-midi à l’île de la Grande Jatte, among other noted French masterpieces.

 [[92]] Letter to J. H. Gest from Lawton Parker, Cincinnati Art Museum Archives, 5/7/1907 and 5/21/1907.

 [[93]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/5/1907, p.7.

 [[94]] Letter to Lawton Parker from Carpenter, French letter archives, 11/6/1907, p.609.

 [[95]] Isabel McDougall, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 11/24/1907 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 23, col. 3, p.106. Director French was apparently one of those pushing for Parker to declare himself not a Chicagoan. In his letter to Adam Albright, regarding the same residency issue with Louis Betts, he claims “Parker was blamed” [for taking a prize reserved for Chicago artists] and continues to discuss Betts standing as a Chicago artist. Betts had removed his works from competition and didn’t show at the 1908 Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists where Albright was a juror. Letter to Albright from French, French letter archives, 1/30/1909, p.279.

 [[96]] Isabel McDougall, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 12/8/1907 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 23, col. 4, p.110. Nelson Morris (1838-1907) was the protégé of John B. Sherman, founder of the Chicago Union Stock Yards. Morris became the leading live-cattle trader in the country and the largest cattle feeder and processor in the world.

 [[97]] That he had been in France is confirmed the fact he arrived in the U. S. from Cherbourg, France on 11/29/1908. Passenger Record, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

 [[98]] “Annual Art Exhibit Ready,” Chicago Tribune, 10/20/1908, p.3. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/24/1908, p.4. Harris founded the Harris Trust and Savings Bank, one of Chicago’s largest banks, and was one of the city’s wealthiest men.

 [[99]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/16/1909, p.4.

 [[100]]“Artists Desire A Home,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/9/1902, p.5.

 [[101]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/26/1909, p.6. A small site plan of the building may be found in Insurance Maps of Chicago, (NY: Sanborn Map Co., 1910), Vol. 2, Reel 11, p.121, Chicago Public Library. The building no longer stands.

 [[102]] Op. cit., Hammons, “Biographical Notes: William Cunningham Gray (1830-1901),” 1985

 [[103]] For details on interior works by Wright see: “Interiors By Wright,” Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, Fall 1993, pp.10-13. Wright would later work on two commissions in the Fine Arts Building, W. Scott Thurber Gallery (1909), where Parker opened his one-man show in Chicago in 1910, and the Mori Oriental Art Studio (1914). An image of the Thurber Gallery is found in Elia W. Peattie, “The Fine Arts Building In Chicago,” International Studio, Vol. 43, April 1911, p.XLVI.

 [[104]]Project plans numbered 0923.001, 0923.002 and 0923.003 were provided to the author for study review by Penny Fowler of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On 9/22/1909, Wright entered a contract with Hermann Von Holst to complete Wright’s work while he was to travel in Europe. A list of works under construction, in hand and probable, does not show the Parker studios which confirms earlier newspaper accounts that the project was finished around June 1909. Anthony Alofsin, Frank Lloyd Wright The Lost years, 1910-1912, A Study Of Influence, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp.27-28, 311-312. Source courtesy of Penny Fowler. In exhibition catalogues from the Art Institute of Chicago Parker listed his address as 19 E. Pearson from 1910 to 1916.

 [[105]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/26/1909, p.6. Reynolds (1869-1949) had been one of the first teachers with Parker at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and later was a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. Reynolds was also Louis Ritman’s most important instructor at both schools. This connection would later become important as Parker supported Ritman’s work. Parker also leased space to Chicago and Taos artist Walter Ufer, who is featured in this book with an extensive essay by Dr. Dean Porter. Stephen L. Good, “Walter Ufer (1876-1936), Munich to Taos, 1913-1918”, Pioneer Artists of Taos, (Denver: Old West Publishing, 1983), p.113. Mr. Good leaves the rest of the arrangement unclear. Ufer’s address after 1913, ceased to be on Pearson Street.

 [[106]] Tree Studios exists today at 4 East Ohio Street, though it has undergone significant renovation. Parker was resident at the studios in 1907 as witnessed by his address in Catalogue of the Twentieth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 10/22/1907), p.38.

 [[107]]Mme. X, “News Of The Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 6/8/1913, p.H2.

 [[108]]“Mrs. John Alden Carpenter Dies,” Chicago Tribune, 12/8/1931, p.1.

 [[109]]“In the World of Society: Mrs. John Alden Carpenter Opens Art Studio for Winter,” Chicago Tribune, 10/27/1909, p.11. She was the former Rue Winterbotham of one of Chicago’s most elite families. He and Mrs. Carpenter would later go on to organize the Arts Club of Chicago.

 [[110]]She was the first wife of wealthy Richard Harding Davis.

 [[111]]Several of these women were noted as socially prominent in “Art Institute Exhibit Causes Veritable Crush,” Chicago Tribune, 11/15/1913, p.10. In fact, Parker himself was noted a member of this society in the article. Clark later moved to the Tree Studio building in 1914. She had been divorced from her husband Richard Harding Davis around 1910. Addresses for artists are found in the various exhibition catalogues of the Art Institute. A compilation may be found in Peter Hastings Falk, editor, Art Institute of Chicago, The Annual Exhibition Record, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990). Mrs. Ryerson’s and Davis’s studios are noted in “Gay New Year’s Day for North Side Society,” Chicago Tribune, 1/2/1914, p.15. Mr. Ryerson was lost on the Titanic after giving his life vest to their maid.

 [[112]]Letter to Birger Sandzen from Raymond Jo[h]nson, 5/3/1917, Birger Sandzen Gallery Archives.

 [[113]]Op. cit., Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, Spring 1951, pp.38-39.

 [[114]]McCormack researcher Nancy S. Weyant, Andruss Library, Bloomsburg University has located a letter from McCormack stating she and Lawton Parker later [1915] visited Wright’s home in Wisconsin, Taliesin, where Parker painted her sitting under an apple tree; two years later McCormack completed a bas-relief of Parker.

 [[115]]Letter to Karl Buehr from Faye Williams Young, c.1920.

 [[116]]Buehr was also close friends of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hubbell. Letter to William H. Gerdts from Mary Smart, 8/26/1991, p.5, IHAP Library. Smart’s information is compiled from the papers of Mary and Frederick MacMonnies. Smart authored A Flight with Fame, The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937), With a Catalogue Raisonne of Sculpture, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1996). Parker installed a press at the house and was then engaged by Mary C. Wheeler to teach printmaking. David Sellin, “Frieseke in Le Pouldu and Giverny: The Black Gang and the Giverny Group,” in Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p.85. Sellin’s information comes from numerous conversations with now deceased Janet Johnston Farr whose father William B. Johnston purchased the house after Buehr had finished renting it. Information on Buehr’s painting came from Eric W. Baumgartner, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, in a letter to Joel S. Dryer, 9/23/1996. Information on Parker’s painting came from Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers, where the Parker painting was lot #67, in the 4/23/2015 sale.

 [[117]] “What Society People Are Doing,” Daily Inter Ocean, 2/4/1914, p.4. In 1917, noted modernist Raymond Jonson, was also resident there. He called his place “The Little Studio.” Letter to Birger Sandzen from Raymond Johnson, 5/3/1917, Birger Sandzen Gallery Archives.

 [[118]]“News Of The Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 5/4/1913, p.H3. Mme. X, “News Of The Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 6/1/1913, p.H2. McGann and her friends Mrs. Edward Adams and Miss Julia Thompson painted in the dining room. Mme. X, “News Of The Society World: Portraits Interest Society,” Chicago Tribune, 11/16/1913, p.D2.

 [[119]]Op. cit., Mme. X, Chicago Tribune, 6/1/1913, p.H2.

 [[120]] His works were shown at the Art Institute in an important loan exhibition for the Benefit of the Passavant Memorial Hospital. Harriet Monroe, “Many Famous Portraits Will Be Shown in Hospital Benefit Exhibit,” Chicago Tribune, 2/27/1910, p.B6, and “Portrait to Be Shown at Art Exhibit,” Chicago Tribune, 3/6/1910, p.7, which had an illustration of Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson, published again in “Chicago Society Women As The Portrait Painters See Them,” Chicago Tribune, 2/5/1911, p.9. At the Corcoran Gallery of Art biennial, he showed On The Balcony, presumably an indoor-outdoor scene. And at the Art Institute Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture he showed the portrait of Mrs. Harris. He also exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Society, American annual.

 [[121]]Fred W. Sandberg, “If Artist Benson Had Not Been on the Jury He Would Have Won a Medal and $1,000,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, 10/23/1910, part 9, p.6.

 [[122]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/5/1910, p.6. An example of a more relaxed pose for his sitter Mary Potter Kerr, was illustrated in “Has The Ever – Present Camera Hindered Pen and Ink Artists’ Development,” Chicago Tribune, 6/11/1911, part 8, p.7. The painting was illustrated in the catalogue and in James Spencer Dickerson, “A Western Art Exhibition,” The World To-Day, Vol. 20, January 1911, p.67.

 [[123]] Wright was then at the height of his powers as a Prairie School architect. He was probably the most sought-after architect in Chicago. Working for almost exclusively wealthy clients, this project would not have been inexpensive. As Parker sought to attract society women who were painters, he probably wanted to create as “rich” a space as possible to lease.

 [[124]]“Gossip of the Artists,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 3/20/1910, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 26, col. 2, p.67.

Part 3

April 4, 1910 was a monumental day in the career of Lawton Parker, his one man exhibition, which had been preceded the prior month by that of Karl Anderson (1874-1956), another adherent of the Plein-air nude, opened to rave reviews at the Thurber Art Gallery in Chicago. Displayed there for everyone to see were his canvases bursting with sunshine, pure colors bright and vibrant. Walter Scott Thurber was one of the most progressive persons in the Chicago art scene. He started in the art business as a salesman for O’Brien Art Gallery. [[1]] His gallery space on the top floor of the old Chicago Musical College Building, with its entrance through the Fine Arts Building, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. [[2]] He used the modern space to exhibit “modern” artists.


Critic McCauley said that since his return, Parker was regaling his patrons with stories of his garden in Giverny, which he shared with Frederick Frieseke. She ably described his activities in France and his garden space:


“Fruit trees and water plants bend over the running water and flowers and shrubs bloom in profusion on the slopes. The small house is used as a shelter, and when portrait painting hours are over in Paris, Mr. Parker hastens to the country, unlocks the little door in the high wall, and, closing it behind him, enters the circles of devotees of plein air.”


“Here his model poses under the trees, or basks in golden sunlight amid the shrubs and flowers. Pure color vibrates in the breezy atmosphere and the painter, unrestrained by studio conventionality or artificial lights, lets the impulse direct his brush with happy results in a gallery of artistic compositions - ‘A Modern Eve,’ ‘A Bather,’ ‘Landscape With Nude’ and studies of landscape and figures.” [[3]]


In a later article, she lauded Parker because his show marked “an epoch” in what she called a “phase of art.” She wanted other local painters to take note and hastened to add they were slow to move in this new direction. McCauley continued to praise Parker comparing his portrait of Newell Dwight Hillis to Whistler with its “spiritual presence.” [[4]] Apparently Parker had spent the entire summer in outdoor work, and it showed in his output. [[5]] He and Frieseke had been working at the same motifs as well, as evidenced by their depiction of a robed figure in a row boat or the same figure along the shore. [[6]]


The nucleus of a new American school of painting was what the Sunday Record-Herald called it. [[7]] This group included Guy Rose (1867-1925), Edmund W. Greacen (1877-1949), Richard Miller, Frieseke, Anderson and Parker. [[8]] While the paper failed to mention Alson Clark, Parker’s friend had made the transition after an extensive trip through Spain with Francis Mora. Clark had exhibited the results of his bright sun-filled intensely colored canvases in March 1910, at Chicago’s O’brien’s gallery. [[9]]


“The watchword of these young men is life, and light, and humanity. Their language of expression is achieved through the medium of a happy, fleeting vision of things real yet delightfully intangible. Direct contact with the open air is their gospel of inspiration.” [[10]]


The Thurber catalogue was brief but described the movement as taking a “more rational view of modern impressionism.” [[11]]


Chicago Tribune critic Harriet Monroe was even more descriptive of the wonder at this new style of painting from Chicago’s most prominent portrait artist:


“These pictures, which are chiefly studies of the nude out of doors, seem to me by far the best work he has ever done. [emphasis added] They show that he has taken a wonderfully fresh start, and that he is sensitive to the elusive beauty of light, color, atmosphere to a degree which I, for one, never suspected. He has been able to throw off the rather cold formalism, the somewhat labored effect, of what might be called his studio manner, and develop all of a sudden a style as free and spontaneous as the delicate will-o’-the-wisp subjects he has been studying.”


Parker added to the discussion:


“We had a wonderful place to paint. A secluded walled garden more beautiful than Monet’s we thought, because it was more wild; with a rivulet running through it toward the Seine, making two little quite pools shaded by foliage. There we could work all day without fear of intrusion.”


In a very telling description of their technique and discounting many theories that the paintings were constructed completely outdoors, he said: “But we had to keep running back and forth to the house with our canvases because effects which seemed brilliant out in the sun would look black in doors and require change.” [[12]]


Parker “refused” to call these Plein-air paintings “serious.” [[13]] Monroe noted he was almost afraid to exhibit them. The deliberate and hard-working Parker would have cause for concern as his small fortune had already been made on society portraits and teaching techniques which were anything but out-of-doors painting. While he may have been in Giverny a few years earlier than summer 1909, he either didn’t paint in this mode or he decided it was time to show the public what he had been up to. It is a matter of interest that Karl Anderson, also a society portrait painter, showed his Giverny work at the same time. Alson Clark had been in Giverny earlier, yet his outdoor work from Spain wasn’t shown until just before Parker’s. Could there have been some very careful planning by the three friends? Had Parker painted these canvases or ones similar over several years and hid them from view? Monroe called for Parker to “forget” about being serious, to be “gay” and predicted if he would how “good it would be for his fame.” [[14]]


In December, the Madison Art Gallery, New York, [[15]] opened the exhibit Impressionist landscapes, genre scenes, and portraits by Guy Rose, Frederick C. Frieseke, Lawton S. Parker and Richard Miller. For the first time this group of hard working artists was exhibiting together representing the new school of American Art. Most of the reviews of the show were very favorable with one critic offering, “These men are impressionistic painters of the very best sort. Their work is on a par with the older and better known men.” [[16]] That they worked together on subject matter was evidenced by In A Garden, a work each of three artists submitted by the same name. [[17]] Critic Henry McBride offered that should these works be shown at the National Academy it would give a “jolt” to the annual show there and help to cure The Ten of their “chronic anemia.” [[18]] This show was the culmination of the many activities for Parker that year and marked the turning point of his career. Other contemporary publications have made much of this exhibit and extolled the virtues of the work. The most salient adjectives used by the many critics to describe Parker’s work included: “astonishing progress;” “changed for the better” and “palpitating colors.” [[19]]


Several scholars have maintained Parker was living at Giverny for somewhat of an extended period. However, the evidence speaks otherwise. One letter was addressed to him at Giverny, par Vernon, on September 15, 1910, but three months later another was addressed to his Paris address at 7 Passage Stanisla. [[20]] It is clear from the vast material assembled and from the many exhibition records which required an address that Parker was spending winters in Paris and Chicago and summers in Giverny, possibly going back and forth between the city and the country all summer long. [[21]] Critic Harriet Monroe had visited him and his friends that summer in Giverny where she commented on the group poking fun at the modernists by taking turns painting works by “Matisse” or “Gauguin” [[22]] Near this time Parker had sold a work to the wealthy artist William Singer who lent it to the international exhibition in Rome. The painting Breakfast in the Garden (Singerheimen, Olden, Norway) was evocative of Parker’s impressionist spirit at the time. [[23]] Monroe wrote in June 1911 Parker had been absent Chicago for over a year with his time spent “chiefly in Giverny and Paris.” He was ready to come home, however: “I got thoroughly tired of Paris that winter and hope I may be able to stay a long while now on this side of the water.” [[24]] The timing for his return from some brand of boredom couldn’t have been better. Parker had become Chicago’s de facto commentator upon the American art scene in France. [[25]]


It was during this time Parker took a young talented artist under his wing, Louis Ritman (1889-1963). As noted earlier, in the fall 1909, Parker was in Philadelphia with William M. Chase. Ritman studied with Chase there at the same time, probably at the urging of Parker. In early 1910, Ritman was in Paris and by the summer, Parker had invited him to Giverny, gaining quarters for him with a local farmer and lending him his studio and model. Leon Makielski (1885-1974) recounted, “Parker said to me that he is going to see that Ritman makes the mark with his talent.” It is possible Parker advanced the financially strapped Ritman the money for an entirely new set of clothes as Makielski saw him in a “new outfit from head to foot” wearing a “smile you never saw before.” [[26]] Under Parker’s influence, Ritman would soon become another member of the Giverny group and a noted success in Chicago. An account of Ritman’s ascendancy was written by critic Harriet Monroe:


“Mr. Parker speaks with great interest of two young students from Chicago, who this year make their debut at the Old Salon. Louis Ritman, who is still under 20, was born in the Ghetto of Russian Jewish parents, and began his artistic career as a sign painter. He saved up money enough to take lessons at the Chicago Fine Arts academy, where he won some prizes, and began to paint portraits for a few dollars a head. The chance advice of an instructor caused him to risk starvation by going to Paris, where clever work in making copies, portraits, etc., has enabled him to subsist while he painted a more ambitious picture of two women at their toilet. This was accepted for the Salon, where it now hangs on the line, balancing one by Harrington Mann, and receives encouraging praise from artists and critics.” [[27]]


The portrait formula, which worked so well for Parker was not really abandoned, just modified. As this continued to represent a sizeable income, he was not really at liberty to jolt the expectations of his patrons too much. Parker was now also in the real estate business with his studio building. He had much greater cause to remain in Chicago and critic Harriet Monroe, who had seen him in Giverny the summer 1910, [[28]] said he spent the summer 1911, in the Chicago suburbs, painting outdoors. [[29]] One painting titled, Salvia, Lake Geneva, indicates he was also at the resort town just north of Chicago in Wisconsin. [[30]] Lake Geneva was and remains today a place for wealthy Chicagoans to spend their summer lounging by the cool lake and enjoying clement summer evenings.


He exhibited three paintings at the next Art Institute Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in the fall. One portrait depicted a relatively new motif; the female patron sat in a large chair while she leaned across one arm. The blending of whites lent a rich, low tone to the dress of the sitter one might imagine again any number of Whistler portraits. [[31]] During 1911, his works were shown at the Pennsylvania Academy and Carnegie annuals and at the Salon Société des Artistes Français, [[32]] as well as an exhibit of American artists living in Paris at the city’s Devembez Gallery. [[33]] The exhibit was part of an art exchange between American and French artists, that had its first showing of French works in Chicago in 1905, under the significant influence of Parker. This had been followed in 1908 by another Art Institute of Chicago exhibit featuring six American artists who were resident in France. [[34]] The press said Parker was one of two “permanent” members of the selection committee. It’s likely the entire concept was thought up by Parker and no doubt he contemplated some angle to make money at it. Important support for the series was gathered from U. S. Ambassador to France Robert Bacon as well as the French Minister of Art and important French artist Henri Charles Etienne Dujardin-Beaumetz (1852-1913). [[35]]


The most extraordinary aspect of Parker’s life in the summer of 1911 was that it was spent in Chicago, not France. Parker’s friend, writer Henry Kitchell Webster, held an exhibition of Parker’s works at his large home in Evanston where the event was news for local society. [[36]] With this exhibition of Giverny works from the previous two summers it was clear his transformation of style was complete. Critic Harriet Monroe was effusive in her praise of this private exhibition. Exhibits at homes were rarely given any press coverage but apparently this one was difficult to miss. Twenty-two paintings in all were shown: “Most of the pictures are studies of women out of doors in Giverny gardens or verandas or beside pools, lit by dappled sunlight… painted last summer, others the summer before, when Mr. Parker first fell in with Richard Miller, Frederick Frieseke, and other Americans of the plein air school who use the little French village as their summer headquarters… Never did [a] painter effect a more complete revolution in style, nor with happier results. Giverny taught Mr. Parker to throw away the heavy and somber secondary tones…The result is a series of fresh, clear, finely inspired pictures…The exhibition…is one of the most important offered here by any Chicago painter and an amazing advance over his previous work. [[37]]


The summer stay lasted through the winter, which was filled with some society activities, including a fantastic benefit pageant where Parker played a role as part of the English Group. [[38]] As the winter melted away, the most important local exhibition of his career was about to open. His one man show at the Art Institute was heralded with the headline, “Parker Paintings Catch Glint of Summer. Sunshiny Canvases Now at the Art Institute,” and opened to strong reviews on March 5, 1912. [[39]] Parker announced his own works by saying in the subheading:


“I Paint in the Vast Outdoors, in the Mists and in the Shadows.” [[40]]


About his fresh approach Parker went on to say in the newspaper:


“I love morning, noon and evening, and I paint these moods of nature. I respond to the rising light of the forenoon, to the glory of the sunshine at high noon, to the declining light of the afternoon. Light and sunshine give to foliage corresponding notes of beauty. No artist would dare to paint the true vividness of foliage when bathed in an effulgence of sunshine; such a venture would be termed grotesque and spectacular. Being an artist endowed with prudence, I do not impart the climax of vividness that sunshine gives to leaf and flower.” [[41]]


His works were hung in one gallery and those of Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925) were hung in an adjoining space. Parker showed both “forceful” portraits and paintings depicting women outdoors at tea tables, lounging nude among the foliage or dressed in summer attire. Critic Harriet Monroe said of the group, “…the sunshine and shadows seem to ripple and shimmer like a running brook…” [[42]] Lena McCauley said that if a Winter weary art student would go into the gallery “his sensations would be stimulated to fresh enjoyment and his ideas startled…” with a “thought provoking experience.” [[43]] She waxed poetically about how paintings could touch one’s soul and wove into her critiques references to Liszt and Bach; how the subjects were revelations of beauty. Harriet Monroe spoke of a “deeper motive than beauty” in his mind. [[44]]


The people of Chicago had just recently been exposed to this brilliant brand of American impressionism. So much of it was new there was a searching for the inner depths of the artist who carried so much beauty and vitality to the public. The impact on the press was whole, complete they were taken by these paintings and creator and would continue to bring them forth for years until it became exactly what they expected. This exhibition was the culmination of an introduction of new subjects, new thought, and new spirit to Chicagoans. The critics constantly reminded the public of Parker’s academic training and great skill in pointing to the success at which he carried off these new canvases. His work could be more readily accepted by the public, despite that he painted what he saw, for as the catalogue said:


“The canvases make a refreshing contrast to much of the modern impressionistic work in their sanity, their moderation and their admirable draughtsmanship, while they full equal, if they do not actually excel their rivals in the amount of illumination gained.” [[45]]


The only other record of his works exhibited in 1912 was at the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute and the Brooklyn Art Association in a loan exhibit.


He traveled to the artist colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut that summer, at the possible invitation of Metcalf, who he undoubtedly knew from Giverny and came in contact with again while their works were given space at the Art Institute. [[46]] Parker then traveled on to Giverny to work the remainder of the year and through the winter with Frieseke in their shared garden. [[47]] It is possible at this time he painted portraits of his garden mate. Two known works exist of Frieseke by the hand of Parker, one of which was used as the entry requirement for Frieseke’s induction into the National Academy of Design. [[48]] Their coterie of artists made a habit of sitting for each other. [[49]] The weather was apparently unseasonably rainy and he was forced to spend considerable time indoors at the adjoining house and his Paris studio. [[50]] There he worked on the most important painting of his career. One which took him four and a half months to complete, on which he labored by scraping off and painting repeatedly until he was satisfied. [[51]]


After winters end in France, Parker came home to broad acclaim. [[52]] In March 1913 he was in Chicago to see the International Exhibition of Modernism, as show that was seen by 188,000 people at the Art Institute and had caused quite a stir. [[53]] In June the Chicago newspapers were filled with the remarkable events of the first American ever to achieve a gold medal at the Salon Société des Artistes Français. “Chicago Artist Wins Salon Medal,” and “The Gold Medal Of The Salon,” announced this honor for Chicago’s now, best known artist. [[54]] The New York Times had presciently written: “Lawton Parker and Louis Ritman have two of the best nudes in the Salon.” [[55]] Parker’s nude, decidedly risqué for a Chicago audience, lounging on a sort of day bed, La Paresse (idleness), caused a stir and much debate over the new award system. [[56]] Director William French tried to explain sometime later in a letter that as the old system had been eliminated, the new system created a medal without the same honor. A thorough reading of his letter makes it clear that Director French was quite unclear about the changes and probably did not understand them himself. [[57]]


French explained the old rule had first, second- and third-class medals, all gold in composition. Only two first class medals were ever given, both to Frenchmen. There was also a Grand medal of honor, higher than first class. At this point French was somewhat incoherent:


“For several years no first-class medal has been awarded to anybody, which is one of the reasons, I believe [emphasis added], that this is now merged into the second, the two [first class and second class] corresponding somewhat [emphasis added] to the second-class medal formerly awarded. This, as nearly as I can explain, is now the gold medal.” [[58]]


The first Inter Ocean article stated the cable received from France was of award of a “Second Honor.” [[59]] An initial cable from Paris had stated it was second medal and shortly after the mistake was corrected by a letter from the Salon which lauded him with the Gold. It was supposed because of the time he spent in Paris he might not have been considered a foreigner by the Salon jury. [[60]] Critic Lena McCauley attempted her version of an explanation stating the medal was in fact of the second order previously won by only ten other Americans, but that the “first award” (Grand Medal) is never given to foreigners. This account tried to explain the new system which consisted of a Grand Medal (first), followed by Gold (second), followed by a third-class medal (presumably silver). [[61]] Critic Harriet Monroe offered a correction by saying his “life size study” was awarded a medal that was in fact of the “first class, not of the second, as was first reported.” [[62]] George Breed Zug offered his correction saying the cable gave word Parker was now Hors concours that “no longer goes with a second medal, but only with a first, and that medal is no longer restricted to French artists.” He commented the last four salons passed without a first-class medal given. [[63]] Parker was showing a sketch of the now famous painting in his Chicago studio. McCauley called the piece a “painter’s picture” because it was a technical feat, not meant for any other hidden meaning. She described the work as a:


“nude woman with flowing red hair, carelessly emerging from her pale violet kimono as she lies in a twisted position on a couch in the light that is diffused through a Venetian blind… of painted warm flesh tones harmonizing with the draperies on the couch and beside the window.”


McCauley was so eloquent comparing his work to that of French composer Claude Debussy, “color that as delicately awakens emotional sensations as the harmonies fall upon the eye.” [[64]] She went on to say there were over forty reviews of the Salon which contained favorable remarks about Mr. Parker’s painting. Finally, there was a move about Chicago to try and purchase the painting and present it to the Art Institute. At a dinner held in Parker’s honor at the Cliff Dwellers Club, several noted artists and patrons began to formulate the plans. [[65]] However, while it is unknown for sure, it is more than likely Parker was not interested in selling the work.


As he had with his Gold Medal painting from Munich, Parker gained a great deal of exposure by exhibiting La Paresse throughout the country: Art Institute Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, November 1913; [[66]] Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual, February 1914, illustrated in the catalogue; April 1914 at the Carnegie International annual, where it caused a stir for being taken from the walls by the director because it was a nude, then replaced; [[67]] 1915 at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, illustrated in the catalogue, and for which, with his English Girl and another portrait, he was awarded a Medal of Honor; [[68]] Cincinnati Art Museum American annual May 1916; National Academy of Design winter annual, December 1916, for which he won the First Altman Prize [[69]]; Detroit Museum of Art at the American annual in April 1917; St. Louis Art Museum American annual in September 1917; Nebraska Art Association annual, January 1918, in December 1919 at the contemporary American biennial at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and in 1921 at the Lyme Art Association where it held a “conspicuous place in the exhibition.” [[70]]


Since returning from Europe, he had been painting portraits, [[71]] and now took the opportunity to visit South Hampton, Long Island for the summer; possibly he would visit Chase. [[72]] He may have returned for the opening of his one man exhibition at the galleries of Marshall Field & Company, Chicago’s department store to the carriage trade. [[73]] But he was back in Paris by November 1913. [[74]]


It is appropriate, at this zenith of his career, to recount Parker’s philosophy on how he arrived at such a place of success:


“I soon saw that the way to get ahead of the rest of them in the Institute, was to put in more hours than the others. Art is like everything else. A person must have an aptitude for it and he must learn to work hard. An artist must learn his trade, just as a cabinetmaker must. He must learn how to use his tools; then if he has anything to express he can do it.” [[75]]


The University of Nebraska awarded him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts noting he was a specialist in the history and technique of fine arts. [[76]]


 [[1]]James William Pattison, “The Loss of W. Scott Thurber,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 29, November 1913, p.684, and “Friend of Art and Artists Lost When Veteran Passed,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/26/1913, p.5.

 [[2]]Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 11/7/1909 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 25, col. 3, p.126.

 [[3]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/2/1910, p.6.

 [[4]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/16/1910, p.8.

 [[5]]Mildred Giddings Burrage, “Art And Artists At Giverny,” The World To-Day, Vol. 20, March 1911, p.350.

 [[6]]See for example Misty Morn by Frieseke, illustrated in E. A. Taylor, “The American Colony of Artists in Paris,” International Studio, Vol. 43, No. 172, June 1911, p.270, and Parker’s The Orange Parasol, in the Frigon collection.

 [[7]] This may have been taken directly from the small catalogue accompanying the exhibit: “The work of this particular group of artists is recognized abroad as rapidly forming an American School…” Paintings by Lawton Parker, (Chicago: Mr. W. Scott Thurber, 4/4/1910), Beloit College archives.

 [[8]] “Among the Local Galleries,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 4/3/1910, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 26, col. 4, p.76.

 [[9]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 3/5/1910, and op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 3/6/1910, p.7.

 [[10]] Op. cit., Chicago Sunday Record Herald, 4/3/1910.

 [[11]] Op. cit., Paintings by Lawton Parker, 4/4/1910.

 [[12]] “Most Recent Work of Lawton Parker Adds Luster to Fame of This Artist,” Chicago Tribune, 4/3/1910, Part 8, p.10.

 [[13]] Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 4/10/1910, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 26, col. 1, p.84.

 [[14]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 4/3/1910, Part 8, p.10. Important to note is that her article describes in detail several of the works.

 [[15]] Located at 305 Madison, the gallery was opened in 1909 by Clara S. Davidge as part of her decorating business. Painter Henry Fitch Taylor, who had been in Giverny in the late 1880s, managed the gallery and considered the work of these Giverny artists to be progressive. For reviews of this exhibition see: Henry McBride, “Seen in the World of Art,” New York Sun, 1/8/1911, Sec. 3, p.4; The New York Herald, “American Painters In ‘Four Man’ Show,” 12/21/1910, p.13; Florence B. Ruthrauff, “Art Notes,” The Morning Telegraph [New York], 12/21/1910, p.4c; “News and Notes of Art World,” The New York Times, Magazine Section, Part V, 12/25/1910, p.15. The exhibition closed 1/6/1911.

 [[16]] Op. cit. Ruthrauff, The Morning Telegraph, 12/21/1910, p.4.

 [[17]] Op. cit., The New York Herald, 12/21/1910, p.13.

 [[18]] Op. cit., McBride, New York Sun, 1/8/1911, Sec. 3, p.4. The Ten included such notable artists as Childe Hassam, Frank Weston Benson and William Merritt Chase.

 [[19]] New York Evening Globe, 12/23/1910 quoted in Paintings By Lawton Parker, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 3/5/1912). An extensive review of the show is found in “News And Notes Of Art World,” New York Times, 12/25/1910. The reviewer was less than kind to Parker’s output.

 [[20]] Letters to Lawton Parker from French, French letter archives, 9/15/1910, p.116, and 12/19/1910, p.718. In the latter letter French expresses concern that Richard Miller was holding a grudge against the Art Institute for a slight at a previous exhibition.

 [[21]] Letter to Charles Dahlgreen from Leon Makielski, Archives of American Art, roll 3953, frame 591, 10/16/1910. As previously mentioned, evidence of his sojourns in Giverny cannot be confirmed prior to the summer of 1909. While it is conceivable that he visited there a few times beginning in 1903 or 1904, Parker was always purposeful and would have painted had he stayed any length. He exhibited no pictures of Giverny until 1910, all completed the summer of 1909.

 [[22]] Harriet Monroe, A Poet’s Life. Seventy Years in a Changing World, (New York: MacMillan Company, 1938), p.224.

 [[23]]Information courtesy of Helen Marres – Schretien, biographer of the Singers.

 [[24]]Harriet Monroe, “Chicago Artists Prepare For Interesting Summer Vacations,” Chicago Tribune, 6/4/1911, p.B7.

 [[25]] A few years later art in France skidded to a halt due to the outbreak of World War I. Parker was already established in his hometown when many American artists were scrambling to return and re-establish themselves

 [[26]] Op. cit., letter to Dahlgreen from Makielski, 10/16/1910.

 [[27]]Op. cit., Monroe, Chicago Tribune, 6/4/1911, p.B7.

 [[28]] Harriet Monroe, “Do We Really Underestimate the American Artists?” “The Giverny Colony,” Chicago Tribune, 5/28/1911, p.B5.

 [[29]] Harriet Monroe, “Four Art Institute Shows,” Chicago Tribune, 3/5/1912, p.3. Karl Albert Buehr began renting Parker’s studio in Giverny probably beginning in the fall 1911, through at least the fall 1912. Letter to William H. Gerdts from Mary Smart, 8/26/1991, p.5, IHAP Library. Smart’s information is compiled from the papers of Mary and Frederick MacMonnies. Smart authored A Flight with Fame, The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937), With a Catalogue Raisonne of Sculpture, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1996). Buehr also listed a Giverny address for the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1910 and 1911.

 [[30]]Op. cit., Paintings By Lawton Parker, 3/5/1912, catalogue entry number 21. We are assuming this is one of the works he exhibited from the previous summer.

 [[31]] James W. Pattison, “The Annual Exhibition of American Art,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 26, January 1912, p.31.

 [[32]] Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/27/1911, p.6. Other artists in Giverny who showed at the salon included Richard Miller and Chicagoans Clara Kretzinger and Pauline Palmer.

 [[33]] Stacey B. Epstein, Alfred H. Maurer: Aestheticism to Modernism, (NY: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 11/30/1999), p.33.

 [[34]]Paintings and Sculpture by 6 American Artists Resident in France: H.O. Tanner, Myron Barlow, F.C. Frieseke, H.S. Hubbell, A.H. Maurer and P.W. Bartlett, Art Institute of Chicago, 1/7/1908.

 [[35]]American Salon In Paris: Artists from United States Contribute Their Works,” Chicago Tribune, 2/19/1911, p.A1.

 [[36]]“Society, Clubs and Entertainments,” Chicago Tribune, 6/21/1911, p.8. “News Of The Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 6/26/1911.

 [[37]]Harriet Monroe, “Lawton Parker’s Paintings on Exhibition,” Chicago Tribune, 7/16/1911, p.A9.

 [[38]]“Society, Meetings and Entertainment,” Chicago Tribune, 12/22/1911, p.8. “Society To Show Old World Pomp,” Chicago Tribune, 12/24/1911, p.3.

 [[39]] Chicago Examiner, 3/7/1912, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 29, p.4. [All Examiner entries are referred to their place in the scrapbooks]. It must not have been easy for Director French to withstand the probable pressures from the trustees to grant Parker this show and to print the expensive catalogue, fifteen paintings were illustrated, and thus, the catalogue provides an excellent record of this period of his work.

 [[40]] Op. cit., Chicago Examiner, 3/7/1912.

 [[41]] Op. cit., Chicago Examiner, 3/7/1912.

 [[42]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 3/5/1912. His Mother and Child was illustrated in the article.

 [[43]] “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/7/1912, p.6.

 [[44]] “Exhibit By Metcalf and Parker of Great Interest to Art Lovers,” Chicago Tribune, 3/10/1912, Part 2 (Editorial), p.3.

 [[45]] Op. cit., Paintings By Lawton Parker, 3/5/1912.

 [[46]] Records of the Lyme Art Association show he exhibited there in 1912. Later, after land for an art gallery was purchased in 1917 from Florence Griswold, Parker would chair the building committee working with the same architect, Charles A. Platt, who had designed Freer Art Gallery in Washington , D.C. and the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London , CT. “Lyme Art Association History,” accessed 4/8/2011.

 [[47]]Parker had let his apartment studio in Chicago artist Abram Poole, a member of another local prominent family, during the winter of 1912-1913. “News of the Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 2/9/1913, p.H3.

 [[48]]Nicolas Kilmer dates the painting 1912-1913, Nicolas Kilmer, “Frederick Carl Frieseke: A Biography,” in Friederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p.33. The painting is also illustrated in: William H. Gerdts, Monet’s Giverny, An Impressionist Colony, (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), p.183. Parker had said he liked to paint portraits of people with their favorite things or in their most enjoyable activities. He depicts Frieseke sitting in a wicker chair doing just that, relaxing and reading. The other work is in a private collection in California.

 [[49]]Op. cit., Kilmer, Friederick Carl Frieseke: (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p.33.

 [[50]]Critic George Zug states this was during the Summer 1912, op. cit., The International Studio, December 1915, p.43. The painting is illustrated on p.41. Critic Maude Oliver quotes two French critics reviewing the Salon in her column, op. cit., Oliver, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 6/8/1913. Parker also complained of foul weather, for some six years running, as his reason for remaining in Chicago the summer of 1913. Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 5/4/1913, p.H3.

 [[51]] Op. cit., Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 8/19/1913, p.6. He was known to work laboriously on a painting as evidenced by one which he repainted an area of wall space over twelve times. Eunice Tietjens, “Lawton Parker,” The Little Review, May 1914, p.34. There is little in this article which wasn’t appropriated from articles by previous writers in magazines and newspapers.

 [[52]] He arrived in the U. S. on 2/25/1913, having departed from Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. Passenger Record, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. In “News of the Society World,” Chicago Tribune, 2/9/1913, part 8, p.3 it was noted: “Abram Poole, who is also a member of a well known Chicago family, has taken Lawton Parker’s studio on Pearson street for the winter, and is hard at work on some portraits. He is just across the hall from Mrs. Cecil Clark Davis, who has two portraits in the present exhibition of Chicago artists at the Art Institute.” Parker’s arrival in the U. S. was also mentioned in “Passengers From Europe,” New York Times, 2/26/1913, p.13.

 [[53]] “Chicago Society Has Private View of ‘Cubist Art,’” Chicago Examiner, 3/25/1913, p.5.

 [[54]] See the following articles: “Chicago Artist Wins Salon Medal,” Daily Inter Ocean, 6/3/1913, p.3; “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/4/1913, p.10; “The Gold Medal of the Salon,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/12/1913, p.6; Harriet Monroe, “Chicago Artist Wins Gold Medal at ‘Old Salon’,” Chicago Tribune, 6/15/1913, Sec. 2, p.7 and George B. Zug, “Among The Art Galleries,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 6/15/1913, p.5. The painting was later illustrated in The Art Student, October 1915, p.4.

 [[55]]“Salon’s Sculpture Its Best Feature,” New York Times, 4/28/1913.

 [[56]]Charles Henry Meltzer, “4,000 Paintings Put On Display In Little Salon: Landon Parker Contributes Daring Nude to Paris Exhibit That Would Shock Chicago,” Chicago Examiner, 4/27/1913, p.11.

 [[57]] French to Mabel Packard, French Letter Archives, 2/6/1914.

 [[58]] Op. cit., French to Packard, 2/6/1914.

 [[59]] Op. cit., Daily Inter Ocean, 6/3/1913.

 [[60]] No article title, Chicago Examiner 6/16/1913, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 30, col. 4, p.129.

 [[61]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/5/1913, p.10. Other Americans who had won the medal included John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943) and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937).

 [[62]] Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 6/15/1913.

 [[63]] Op. cit., Daily Inter Ocean, 6/14/1913.

 [[64]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 6/5/1913, p.10. Twenty years later after the advent of Modernism a Chicago artist named Allan Lee Swisher (1888-after 1940) exhibited a work of the same pose but showing a modern woman smoking a cigarette and entitled it La Paresse (location unknown); proving Parker’s prize picture wasn’t far out of the memories of local artists. C. J. Bulliet, “How Modern Art Came to Town: The War Years and the Advent of No-Jury Shows,” The Chicagoan, Vol. 12, September 1931, p.31. The fact famed critic Bulliet chose the Swisher painting as an illustration for his article is instructive as well.

 [[65]] “Parker’s ‘Idleness’ Is Sought for Chicago,” Chicago Examiner, 6/20/1913, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 30, cols. 1-2, p.133.

 [[66]]William French was lamenting Parker made it difficult for the painting to be exhibited, having sent it late and “did everything wrong that was possible with regard to the shipment.” Letter to Sara Hallowell from French, French Letter Archives, 11/22/1913. Unfortunately, it was held up in customs and arrived a day after judging for the $1,000 Potter Palmer prize was decided. “Artist Threatens To Sue,” Chicago Tribune, 1/4/1914, p.2. “Painting Too Late for Exhibition,” Chicago Tribune, 1/6/1914, p.9. It was given a place of honor across from Gari Melcher’s painting Maternity. The painting was featured with an illustration in James William Pattison, “The Twenty-sixth Annual Exhibition Of American Art,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 29, December 1913, p.705. The illustration caused a problem for the Art Institute, though, as they had lent the magazine a photograph for reproduction and Parker had copyrighted the image. Letter to Pattison from Charles Burkholder, 12/10/1913, French Letter Archives, p.865. Parker was at the time negotiating the sale of the image copyright. It was noticed with a paragraph in Harriet Monroe, “Autumn Art Show Opens Tomorrow,” Chicago Tribune, 11/13/1913, p.13.

 [[67]]Evelyn Marie Stuart, “Inconsistency of Censors,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 31, July 1914, p.347. The painting is illustrated in this article. The painting was apparently removed from the official catalogue, p348. Parker placed the work on view at Wunderly Galleries in Pittsburgh when he learned it was removed from the show. Upon this viewing, the work was restored to the International exhibition. “Carnegie Gallery ‘Art Jury’ Merely “Dummy Directors,’” Chicago Tribune, 6/11/1914, p.13. “Eighty Graduates at Art Institute,” Chicago Tribune, 6/21/1914, p.D4.

 [[68]] Parker was on the Middle West advisory committee of the exposition, chaired by Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) of Cincinnati. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 9/25/1913, p.8, and Illustrated Official Catalogue. Department of Fine Arts. Panama-Pacific International Exposition (With Awards), (San Francisco: Wahlgreen Company, 1915), pp.4-5, following “Index of Artists,” section, p.i. Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 10/3/1915, p.E2. “New Light On Museum Bronzes: Awards at the Panama-Pacific Exposition,” New York Times, 8/1/1915.

 [[69]] Mention of this award appears in Annual Report of the Artists’ Guild, (Chicago: The Artists’ Guild, 1917), Chicago Historical Society. “Academy Of Design Prizes: Awards Made for Best Pictures in Winter Exhibition,” New York Times, 12/11/1916.

 [[70]] “Artists as Builders,” Chicago Evening Post, “News of the Art World,” supplement, 9/20/1921. “The World Of Art: The Old Lyme Exhibition and New Gallery,” New York Times, 8/14/1921.

 [[71]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 6/5/1913, p.10. His portrait of Mrs. Ray Atherton was illustrated in Chicago Tribune, 11/4/1914, p.12.

 [[72]] Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists” Chicago Evening Post, 7/5/1913, p.10, and op. cit., Oliver, Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 6/8/1913. Oliver states he planned to spend the summer on Long Island to avoid the rains in France.

 [[73]] George B. Zug, “Among The Art Galleries,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Sunday Magazine, 8/3/1913, p.5, and Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 8/16/1913, p.6. For an extensive review of the exhibition see: James William Pattison, “Many Sorts of Realism,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 29, December 1913, pp.545-549. He described on page 545, the works as “superior in composition, sentiment and color… they are entirely realistic, a sentiment and poetry pervades each one.”

 [[74]] Op. cit., French to Hallowell, 11/22/1913.

 [[75]] Op. cit., Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 8/19/1913, p.6.

 [[76]]Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.8. It is stated in op. cit., Wells, The Nebraska Art Association A History 1888-1971, p.19, this was the first honorary degree ever granted by the institution. This was clarified in a letter to the author from Richard J. Hoffmann, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 3/29/2006, stating it was the first honorary doctorate awarded by that specific college, but not the entire university. It certainly had to be influenced by his winning of the Gold Medal at the salon as well as his help in building the Nebraska Art Association collection along with that of patron Frank M. Hall.

Part 4

In the winter of 1914 Parker’s painting Day Dreams (private collection, California) was illustrated in the catalog of the Artists of Chicago and Vicinity Eighteenth Annual. The work had been completed in France and was part of an outdoors series of painting featuring women at leisure.


In the spring 1914, Parker visited Santa Barbara, California, likely guests of the McGanns who had a winter residence there. [[1]] A great deal of Chicago society was then frequenting the fashionable, for them, coastal town. [[2]] He was fortunate to have remained home as those who traveled to France that summer were forced to flee as many were subject to the vagaries of war government. [[3]]


Parker’s reputation as an artist and authority had been building for several years, and he was certainly portrait artist to Chicago society. [[4]] His depiction of Mrs. Ray Atherton was done in tandem with a similar work by Grace McGann, [[5]] both pieces exhibited at the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in November 1914, where Parker’s was illustrated in the exhibition catalogue. Evidently the effect of World War I and the loss of his walled garden for outdoor painting was apparent in this portrait as critic Maude Oliver remarked, “Lawton Parker has turned from problems in sunlight to a low-keyed interior portrait.” [[6]] A week later she said “Lawton Parker is quite a surprise to his friends in the low-keyed palette which he offers. From the problem of Giverny Gardens, he has jumped to a consideration of an interior in the cold, uncompromising colors of artificial lights.” [[7]] The portrait of Mrs. Atherton was later purchased by the Friends of American Art for the collection at the Art Institute. [[8]] The portrait had attracted great attention as Parker claimed the sitter was the “most beautiful woman in Chicago society.” [[9]]


Since the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists had begun in 1897 at the Art Institute, local artists submitted their best works for this annual show. [[10]] Usually held in January and February, it was followed in the fall by the exhibition of American artists. Jurors for the Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity came from a list of those artists accepted in previous shows and then voted upon by the artists. Because local artists felt the jury process more fair, they were mostly focus on the Chicago and Vicinity exhibit over the American show. The latter often consisting of invited paintings, submittals by dealers, and a generally layman jury. As the American Annual came to an end and the Chicago and Vicinity was soon arriving during the winter 1914-1915, the issue of juror selection became an extreme and hotly debated topic.


It tumultuously reached almost epic proportions as artists began lining up against patrons. Vehement protests were launched, and Lawton Parker was at the center of a gigantic controversy, primarily one that he in fact instigated.


The Chicago Herald sought Parker’s opinion on the entire system of selecting paintings and prizes for the annual exhibition of American artists and he responded:


“The annual exhibition is a public affair, theoretically open to any American artist who can present a work that is up to the established standard, and is advertised as ‘free for all.’ Space is limited and the standard is supposed to be very high... I think the public and the artists who were ‘turned down’ for lack of space have a right to know what percentage were ‘invited’ and whether the favored few or favored many took their places. They also have a right to know what percentage were submitted by dealers... Such canvases as are not ‘invited’ in advance are passed upon by a jury before they are hung in the exhibition - by the same jury that afterwards awards the prizes... Where does this jury come from? By whose act are its members constituted a jury? One might suppose they were elected by the exhibitors either at this or a previous exhibition or by some widespread organization of artists. The fact is that this committee is, like many of the pictures, ‘invited’ by the officials of the institute... The directors of the institute repeatedly ask why they cannot interest our best artists in the current exhibitions. It is a fact that they cannot, that works by these men which continue to be seen on their walls are submitted by dealers without sanction of the painters themselves, and naturally are often violently misrepresentative of the work these men are doing. [[11]]


Parker discussed the differences between the hurried prize decisions in Chicago and the long deliberate process of the Salon Société des Artistes Français. He also decried the ineptness of some of the lay members of the annual juries. Finally, Parker urged the jury be selected by the artists themselves rather than by the “caprice of lay officials of the institute.” He recommended further changes including returning to regional juries and their election early in the year. As Parker had been feuding with recently deceased Art Institute director, William M. R. French for years, it is a matter of conjecture whether he sought to attack the museum at this juncture, now that the directorship of the museum was only temporary and lacking the power of the French administration. [[12]]


A week later, the Chicago Examiner announced the Art Institute was ready to acquiesce to the request, as Newton Carpenter, long time secretary of the museum said, “Parker hasn’t objected for anything but the principle of the thing, and I know officials of the institute feel that if the painters wish to ballot for their judges it will relieve us of considerable responsibility.” [[13]] What appeared to be an amicable resolution only opened the issue further to questioning juries for the awarding of prizes. This issue would soon explode.


Response to Parker’s criticism came quickly as literary figure Alice Corbin Henderson (1886-1968) wife of artist William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943), a fellow teacher of Parker’s at the Academy of Fine Arts, wrote to the Herald of further suggestions to changes in the jury system. She specifically introduced the idea of need for a salon des refuses in conjunction with the annual exhibit where rejected works could be shown. [[14]] A second response was printed in the Herald that was complementary when in reply, architect and Art Institute trustee Arthur Aldis commented at the end of his letter, “Mr. Lawton Parker has done a good work in starting the discussion of a difficult and important question.” [[15]]


Parker’s influence was indeed growing. In December 1914, he gave an exhibition of Ritman’s works in his studio on Pearson Street, [[16]] where Ritman was staying during his time back from Paris because of World War I. [[17]] He had done something similar for George Charles Aid (1872 - 1938) in 1910 to help along his career in etching. [[18]] The show opened to critical acclaim and Maude Oliver suggested, “That they should have a more central location is the verdict of all who have had the pleasure of viewing them.” [[19]] In describing the canvases, Oliver commented that one was painted in the same studio where Parker had painted his now famous, La Paresse. Through Parker’s apparent influence the Art Institute found time in their schedule to open an exhibit of the same Ritman canvases in February 1915, in conjunction (overlapping by a week) with the Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists Chicago and Vicinity. This was an unheard-of policy at the time. Just five years earlier correspondence between the museum and the society indicated, “The artists have always insisted that there should be no other exhibitions [at the Art Institute] at the same time.” [[20]]


Both Parker and Ritman, along with Frederick Frary Fursman (1874-1943), George Senseney (1874-1943), Jerome S. Blum (1884-1956), Roy H. Brown (1879-1956) and William Victor Higgins (1884-1949), were asked to speak as “modernists” on the future of art in Chicago in art, at the annual Chicago artists’ dinner held at the Press Club on February 7, 1915. [[21]] One week later, just two weeks before the opening of the Chicago and Vicinity annual, pressure on the layperson’s jury mounted. The Municipal Art League, who coordinated prizes, held a meeting where the scene was described as “lively,” as Parker’s request for a jury of awards comprised solely of artists met with “considerable objection,” Mrs. William F. Grower leading the opposition. [[22]]


Two days after the opening of the 1915 Chicago and Vicinity show a large group of artists used Parker’s opening to expand the issue of jury selection. While Parker was concerned with the awarding of prizes at the local show, and the admission of un-juried works at the American Annual, disenfranchised local artists attacked the jury process in total. While they offered no plausible solutions to a jury, nonetheless their complaints were voiced loudly. Twelve hundred works were submitted that year with three hundred accepted. [[23]] The jury of acceptance, however, for the local show, was in fact elected by fellow artists.


It didn’t take long for Parker to refocus the attention of the public on the real issue at hand, the awarding of prizes by laypersons. He led a group of artists, including Wilson Irvine (chairman of the city appointed Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art, to purchase local art, and former president of the Chicago Society of Artists) in requesting the awards juries be composed only of artists, calling the award system a “Pink Tea Fete.” [[24]] On the fifteenth of March at least three newspapers picked up on the story, the Tribune and Post with front page stories. [[25]] As Parker told it:


“It is ridiculous to place a fictitious value on anything that happens to strike the fancy of a lot of laymen who know nothing about the work they are judging… It is fooling the public to put a prize tag on something that doesn’t merit the distinction and then let the public wonder why. [[26]] The principal painters of Chicago have taken a stand against allowing the club women to judge the merits of works of art and award prizes…The present system is absurd and provincial… If the directors of the Art Institute are going to continue to let the club women play at art and decide the technical points of paintings and sculptures, we merely won’t exhibit.” [[27]]


In a letter to Newton Carpenter fifteen artists said they refused to exhibit further under the “farcical” existing conditions. Lawton Parker’s was the lead signature on the letter. Several of the signatories included those who rented studios from Parker, his protégé Ritman, and Art Institute professor Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952) who had also been present in Giverny. Also included were noted artists William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943) and Alson Skinner Clark. [[28]] “We won’t exhibit under any such county fair rules,” was Parker’s cry. “If they don’t want our money we can go somewhere else with our prizes,” was the retort of Mrs. William F. Grower, representing the voice of the Municipal Art League. [[29]] Parker was later quoted as saying, “The fact that these women are patrons of Chicago art does not invest them with the intelligence necessary to constitute them art critics. Their system of awarding prizes creates a ridiculous presumption that the object of that award is really a superior work of art.” [[30]]


The club women of course felt if they were to offer the prize money, they should have a significant hand in selecting the prize winners. They felt little remorse that one of the purchase prizes was awarded to Victor Higgins, a member of their own award jury. [[31]] Higgins then went on a public attack saying Parker was disgruntled because his “protégé” Ritman did not receive a prize; that the other signers didn’t understand the document they signed and all concerned lacked “gray matter.” [[32]] As artists lined up the Herald detailed those who sided with Higgins, including Carl Rudolph Krafft (1884-1938) and his best friend Rudolph Ingerle (1879-1950), Frank Dudley (1868-1957) and Albert Ullrich (1869-1951) – all members of the local Palette and Chisel Club. Those publicly joining Parker were probably the most influential artist in Chicago, Oliver Dennett Grover (1860-1927), Henry Leon Roecker (1860-1941), Alfred Jansson (1863-1931), Wilson Irvine (1869-1936) and Charles William Dahlgreen (1864-1955). [[33]]


Art Institute professor Wellington Reynolds, who stated emphatically that the letter and movement “had behind it the co-operation of every student in the institute” professing no financial need for the awards, only that a just system be implemented. [[34]] It was then the turn of the students to come out publicly for change. “We all agree with the protest. We know that our work will be up for judging soon, and we are anxious that it be judged by men or women whose training fits them for such work” Dorothea Gerhardt, spokeswoman for the students was quick to point out that the signatories of the letter were infrequent exhibitors and of independent means, thereby insisting they only wished for the fairest practices. [[35]]


Art Institute professor John Warner Norton espoused what perhaps was the most reasoned view by an artist in saying:


“It would seem to me that in the present system the great good lies in the fact that the public demonstrates an active interest and through exercising selective judgment educates itself.” [[36]]


One of Chicago’s then radical modern artists, Jerome Blum, used the controversy to call for juryless exhibitions altogether, again expanded the issue from just prize picking to selection into the general show. Why couldn’t the show be patterned after the Society of Independent artists in France he wondered. It was his claim that “real” artists weren’t interested in prizes at all and did all they could to remain independent. [[37]]


When the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune chimed it, a reader of that day could gather the issue was significant to all of Chicago. The editors agreed with Lawton Parker by disagreeing that paying for prizes entitled the clubwomen to vote on the awards. That the club women should be public spirited with their prizes and support local art for the better of the community was the point to be focused on and had no bearing to decision making. Otherwise, the supposed public effort was really “private enterprise.” [[38]]


The Palette and Chisel Club decided it was time to enter the fray in favor of the club women, despite the fact that one of their own, and a former Gold Medal winner of the club, Walter Ufer, was adamantly with Parker. One of the Chicago’s leading female artists, Pauline Palmer (1867-1938) derided Parker by stating he “has been in Europe so long, he doesn’t understand the situation here.” [[39]] This a somewhat odd statement coming from an artist who had achieved much of her training in Europe and was as well active in Giverny like Parker and Ritman.


As it turned out, changes were made, but they would prove to be not satisfactory to many artists. The prizes were awarded by first having a popular vote among the 168 delegates representing seventy-eight women’s clubs and societies. The top twenty-five paintings and five sculptures would then be submitted to a jury comprised of fifteen laymen (club women) and five artists appointed by the trustees of the Art Institute. [[40]]


The club women continued their way just as nothing had been in dispute and awarded their prizes, which were then labeled in the exhibition. The fine point of labeling created another stir among the warring artists as those in Parker’s camp demanded the labels be changed from signification as “awards” to that of “purchases.” The detailed point could well be understood given their views. [[41]] The timing of a new system of prizes at the Art Students’ League seemed designed to curry favor with the students. The club women announced they were going to give substantial purchase prizes at the upcoming students exhibit rather than their previous small awards of five and ten dollars. [[42]] Respected artist Ralph Elmer Clarkson, president of the Municipal Art League, naturally came out in favor of his own organization and its supporting club women. Their effort to deflect their own purchase monies to the students was then made public. [[43]]


The final blow was struck on March 19th when Louis Ritman retorted the earlier attack by Victor Higgins. Ritman was universal when he stated, “war in art means progress.” Importantly he pointed out that three of the signatories had in fact received prizes and three hadn’t even bothered to submit works for the exhibition. This in stark contrast to Higgins receiving an important award while sitting on the award jury. And as a further dismissive remark Ritman stated he couldn’t have submitted a work for a prize as nothing he painted was worth such as small amount as two hundred dollars. [[44]] That evening the Chicago Society of Artists and Municipal Art League held a joint entertainment to smooth over relations as many of the Society members were leaders against the award policy. [[45]]


The next day, Frank Virgil Dudley, Vice President of the Chicago Society of Artists, publicly rebuked members of the society who took issue with the prize awards process stating “the Chicago Society of Artists does not approve the sensational manner in which several of its members broke into print several days ago… I am confident that the action of several of our members will be officially deplored at our meeting April 5.” [[46]] This turned out to be a rather silly statement as instead of being “deplored” Dudley was voted out of office! Obviously, the members of the society felt he didn’t, in fact, speak for them. [[47]]


At their meeting of April 5, the Chicago Society of Artists unanimously, with one descent, forwarded a resolution to the trustees of the Art Institute asking the prizes jury to be composed of artists. The only opposing vote was cast by Oliver D. Grover. [[48]] This was followed by a vote of the trustees of the museum as headlines stated, “Artists Will Pick Own Juries;” Parker was “highly elated at the results.” [[49]] He had won. The threatened withholding of purchase prizes from the annual Chicago and Vicinity exhibition never materialized, [[50]] although the next year in 1916 three of those artists who had come out publicly in favor of the club women, Krafft, Palmer, and Higgins were given prizes of the Municipal Art League. By 1917, only two short years later, the all-out war was a forgotten memory along with its concurrent favoritism. Parker’s significant position in the Chicago art world was further solidified when at the time of the April 5 meeting, mayor Carter Harrison appointed him a member to the vacant position on the Commission for the Encouragement of Local art. [[51]] This public body of artists was charged with making significant annual purchases for placement in the public schools, which today forms the basis for the valuable Chicago Public School art collection. [[52]]


Parker had not exhibited in the 1915 Chicago and Vicinity show. A variety of plans had been thought up including one by Walter Ufer, where all sixteen artists who refused works to the show would hold their own show in the fall. [[53]] Parker and eight other artists, four of whom also withheld works from the exhibition, pressed for a group show of their own, which was announced in April. While the artists stated it was a practice borrowed from Europe where small groups of artists exhibited independently of any larger group, [[54]] this group, probably the most prominent of Chicago artists in total, had enough influence to use the Art Institute for their venue. The was show open from May 13 to June 13, under the title of Nine Chicago Painters. [[55]] Karl A. Buehr, trying to smooth over the recent difficulties, said of the show, “The artists have no grievances. We first intended to hold our exhibition last fall, but it was postponed.” [[56]] Critic Anne Ellis of the Chicago Tribune, said of the show, “The exhibit... is rather overshadowed by the works of Lawton Parker, which are the most striking in the exhibit.” [[57]] She later told of “ill feeling” among some local artists that these nine artists were given this exclusive exhibit. An unnamed member of the group said the purpose was to display different styles in a harmonious setting complemented by bronzes, flowers, vases and other decorations. [[58]] The exhibit included wealthy art patron and painter Frederic Clay Bartlett, whom Parker would socialize with. [[59]] Ellis went on to say that viewing the attractiveness of the display the exhibit was “a complete success,” and that Parker’s work “completely overshadow those in their immediate vicinity.”


This exhibit was the beginning of the “Independent” artist exhibitions in Chicago. It was followed by an expanded arrangement at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where invitations were sent to artists across the country, who would be subjected to no jury, and split expenses to show in the 4,000 square feet allotted. [[60]] An exhibition catalogue was produced and yielded the names of fifty-five artists, about half from Chicago, and one hundred eighty works. [[61]]


Parker’s influence in Chicago was completed when in June, Mayor Thompson, ousted long time president of the Municipal Art League and highly respected artist Ralph Elmer Clarkson, from the Chicago Municipal Art Commission. [[62]] He was replaced by Parker. Clarkson’s close friend and highly respected sculptor, Lorado Taft, was replaced by sculptor Emil Robert Zettler (1878-1946), who was a tenant of Parker’s at 19 E. Pearson. Parker was then named chairman of the commission. [[63]] A month after Parker’s appointment, he was then appointed by the mayor to the commission on the design of a Chicago flag, the city having never executed one. Parker was instrumental in the contest to establish the flag design, still in use today. [[64]]


It was at about this same time Parker received the Medal of Honor at Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, [[65]] where he had been a member of the Midwest advisory committee for the organization of the exhibition. [[66]] His well-known portrait of Mrs. Atherton had been shown there, along with La Paresse and An English Girl. [[67]] He was also a sort of de facto spokesperson for John Trask, director of exposition fine arts. [[68]]


Having painted portraits of many of Chicago’s leading figures, Parker had an affinity for those who had made their marks on the city. Even civic minded, he offered paintings of living architects who had distinguished themselves, including Louis Sullivan, for a proposed hall of fame of architects in Chicago. [[69]]


Ties to artists were mended quickly. Parker and Frank Dudley, protagonists in the jury battle, agreed to be the only jurors for an exhibition in St. Paul, Minnesota, Artists of the Northwest during the summer of 1915. [[70]] This would have been some consolation as the artists had to spend considerable time together reviewing the over 900 entries. That same summer Parker was the guest of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Wisconsin, invited along with sculptress Nancy Cox-McCormack. [[71]] He and Cox-McCormack returned only ten days later, Parker painting her outdoors in the sunlight. [[72]] The two lived in the same Pearson Street building Parker had renovated. [[73]] If there was a love interest, the secret died with the parties. [[74]]


By the time the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture exhibit arrived at the Art Institute in November 1915, Parker exhibited only one canvas, Portrait of James A. Patten. [[75]] There is no known reason for his now winnowing number of exhibited canvases. Perhaps he had tired of the process of juries and selection. He had already achieved a large measure of wealth and success. The painting Summer Girls at the Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists Chicago and Vicinity in February 1916, would be his last canvas at the annual exhibits of the Art Institute. [[76]] Active in local art affairs, though, Parker spoke at the annual Art Institute Alumni Dinner held February 15th. [[77]]


Parker had also mended ties to the ladies of the Municipal Art League. On November 3, 1915, he organized a group of several of the most influential women and men in Chicago art to meet and discuss the formation of The Arts Club of Chicago, an outgrowth of the Artists’ Guild. [[78]] Among those invited were included the acting director of the Art Institute, Charles L. Hutchinson; Art Institute trustees, Martin A. Ryerson and Edward B. Butler; Municipal Art League stalwart, Mrs. William F. Grower; art critic, Lena M. McCauley of the Chicago Evening Post and former Chicago mayor Carter H. Harrison. [[79]] It would be an important meeting and significant that Parker formed this group. [[80]]


In February 1916, the club, still searching for quarters, had membership which included about three hundred artists and lay people. [[81]] On March 22, 1916, the club was formally organized. [[82]] Parker became the first Vice President. [[83]] Wealthy patron and artist, whose studio was in Parker’s building, Grace Farwell McGann, became the first president. [[84]] By November they had secured quarters in the Fine Arts Building Annex on Michigan Avenue, on the fifth floor. Appropriately enough, entrance to the club was through the Artists’ Guild showroom. [[85]] Today, the club is still active and thriving having recently sold a Brancusi sculpture from their collection to pay for a multi-million dollar new clubhouse in Chicago. [[86]] However, Parker is given no credit for the formation of this important Chicago institution, yet, at the time, it was said he was the “originator” of the idea. [[87]]


At the end of January 1916, a benefit exhibition was held at the Art Institute under the moniker Appui aux Artistes. [[88]] The organization was formed for French artists who could not serve in the military and were left without a pension. Lawton Parker and Oliver Dennett Grover organized the event of several dozen exhibitors who donated canvases for sale at the exhibition. [[89]] It was a society affair, and the funds came under control of Vicomtesse de Rancougne who was raising money as head of the organization. Parker went so far as to lend his three-story home and studio in the Rue Jules-Chaplin, [[90]] in Paris to the Vicomtesse for French artists as a canteen during the war. [[91]] Obviously a very gracious act. This recounting of his home also pointed towards the wealth he had come to accumulate by this time.


Parker reportedly left for Paris, where he was to “remain for some time.” [[92]] His studio in Paris was still occupied by the canteen and the war was still raging in Europe, so its doubtful he either traveled there or remained long. Chicago offered an active art scene and portrait commissions for Parker. He sat on the jury of the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture which opened in November 1916. [[93]]


The Arts club had located a home on the fifth floor of the Fine Arts Building, [[94]] and Parker and Abram Poole (1883-1961), then living in Chicago, put a great deal of effort into organizing the inaugural exhibit of works by Sargent and Henry Golden Dearth (1864-1918). [[95]] One critic called the show, “A vitally interesting epoch in the artistic life of Chicago.” [[96]] This show was immediately followed by an exhibition of George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925), Robert Henri (1865-1929) and John Sloan (1871-1951).


Shortly after serving on the jury of the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute in the Fall 1916, [[97]] sometime between the end of September 1916 and early 1917, Parker moved to New York City. [[98]] Earlier letters from Parker dated April 12, 1916, show he was staying in New York at the Hotel Van Cortlandt prior to the move. [[99]] Parker had moved to New York to take up co-trusteeship of the fund created by John Armstrong Chaloner which helped art students. Parker had encouraged Chaloner to create the fund and consulted with him on its operation. (The reader will recall Parker won a scholarship from Chaloner several decades earlier). [[100]] Correspondence dated October 18, 1916, shows Parker then took a studio at the National Arts Club where he was elected to life membership. [[101]] In December 1916, Parker had achieved more national acclaim when he won the aforementioned $1,000 Altman prize at the National Academy of Design where he had been previously elected as an associate. [[102]] He chose Irving Ramsey Wiles to paint his portrait which was required of new members.



 [[1]]“News Of Chicago Society: Personals,” Chicago Tribune, 12/12/1920, p.F4.

 [[2]]“Comment by Mme. X,” Chicago Tribune, 3/29/1914, p.F2. Parker exhibited A Santa Barbara Garden at the Art Institute Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in November, and A Santa Barbara Home, at the Art Institute exhibit Nine Chicago Artists, in May 1915.

 [[3]]Those without official papers were in some cases to be arrested and those without sufficient proof of funds were unwelcome. “Yankee Artists In Peril; Many Fleeing France,” Chicago Tribune, 8/3/1914, p.5.

 [[4]]He was among the first members in the prestigious Casino, a private club which was, and still is, limited to four hundred prominent members of Chicago society. The club is located on Delaware Street, only a short walk from his studio.

 [[5]]“Chicagoans Throng to See Art Exhibit,” Chicago Tribune, 11/4/1914, p.12. Parker’s example was illustrated in “Vivid Coloring Of Gown In Chicago Woman’s Portrait Attracts Attention,” Chicago Tribune, 11/4/1914, p.12. McGann’s and Parker’s portraits were illustrated side by side in “The Most Beautiful Woman in Chicago Society,” Chicago Tribune, 1/3/1915, p.B9.

 [[6]]Maude I. G. Oliver, “ ‘We Don’t Need Europe,’ Say Art Loyalists,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 11/8/1914, Sec. 2, p.3. Oliver stated both portraits showed the sitter in a “gown of vivid green, with touches of gold and black.”

 [[7]]Maude I. G. Oliver, “Facts About Prize Winning Canvases by American Artists, Now at Art Institute,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 11/22/1914, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.68.

 [[8]]“American Art Exhibition,” Bulletin Of The Art Institute Of Chicago, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 1, 1915, pp.5, 11-12. The painting was illustrated on p.5. It was lent to the Corcoran Gallery of Art for their biennial show and again for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition the following year. Critic Louise James Bargelt termed the work “county [wide] famous.” Mrs. Atherton was the former Constance Coolidge. Louise James Bargelt, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 5/5/1916, p.16.

 [[9]]Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 1/3/1915, p.B9. Louise James Bargelt, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 5/5/1916, p.16. The portrait had been acquired for $2,000. On March 14, 1950, the Art Institute of Chicago Committee on Painting and Sculpture met and voted to deaccession the work along with seven other works acquired for the museum by Friends of American Art including important pieces by Daniel Garber, Chauncey Foster Ryder, Henry Ossawa Tanner and William Wendt. One can only guess at the mindset of the committee in relations to these works of American Art, all of which are highly praised today. On April 19, 1950, the painting by Parker was sold at Grant Art Galleries for $65. “Minutes Of The Meeting Of The Committee On Painting And Sculpture,” Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Archives, 3/14/1950, pp. 1-3.

 [[10]] Isabel McDougall, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/21/1899, p.8.: “Chicago artists are chary of contributions to the annual exhibition of American paintings... It is assumed that they are holding back their works for the exhibition limited to Chicago artists...”; Chicago Sunday Times Herald, 11/5/1899, Part 2, p.7: “It is possible, however, that the local painters are reserving their works for the annual exhibition of artists of Chicago, which opens in February.” And: “Local Painters Vie In Annual Exhibit,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/2/1907, Sec. 4, p.7: “It has grown to be the custom among local painters to reserve their best canvases for the exhibition of works of artists of Chicago and Vicinity…”

 [[11]]Lawton Parker, “Artist Attacks Award System,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 11/29/1914, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.73.

 [[12]] Parker could not have known that in a personal letter, four years earlier, then Director French had also decried the ability of the lay people associated with the Municipal Art League. Letter to Pauline Dohn Rudolph from French, French letter archives, 1/11/1910, p.657.

 [[13]]“Oil Painters to Pick Own Juries,” Chicago Examiner, 12/8/1914 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.82.

 [[14]]“Reply to Criticism of Lawton Parker,” in “The Fine Arts,” Chicago Herald, 12/10/1914, p.10.

 [[15]]“New View of Art Jury System,” in “The Fine Arts,” Chicago Record-Herald, 12/14/1914, p.10.

 [[16]] “Louis Ritman True ‘Pointist’,” in “The Fine Arts,” Chicago Herald, 12/21/1914, p.6. At the outset of Ritman’s career, Parker had been asked to decide on a year’s tuition award at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and had chosen Ritman for the honor. “Gossip of the Artists,” in “Art,” Chicago Sunday Herald, 12/27/1914, Sec. 2, p.5. Critic Oliver points out Parker had given Ritman shared use of his studio in Paris from 1912 to 1914. Ritman’s address in the 1914 and 1915 Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists Chicago and Vicinity catalogue was the same 19 E. Pearson Street where Parker had his building.

 [[17]]“Young Jewish Artist Holds Center Of Attention At Art Institute,” Chicago Israelite, 2/26/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.150.

 [[18]]Harriet Monroe, “Fine Work by American Artists On Exhibition in Local Galleries,” Chicago Tribune, 3/6/1910, p.B7.

 [[19]] Op. cit., Chicago Herald, 12/27/1914, Sec. 2, p.5.

 [[20]]Letter to Walter M. Clute from French, French Letter archives, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 6/16/1909, p.358. Later in 1915, Parker took the liberty to send a Ritman painting along with one of his own to Cincinnati. Letter to J. H. Gest from Lawton Parker, Cincinnati Art Museum Archives, 5/4/1915.

 [[21]] “Chicago’s Art Advance To Be Told At Dinner,” Chicago Herald, 2/4/1915, p.10.

 [[22]]“Bar Women On Picture Jury, Artists’ Plea,” Chicago Examiner, 2/14/1915 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.136.

 [[23]]“‘Art Jury’ Foes Demand A New Award method,” 3/4/1915, Chicago Examiner, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.148.

 [[24]] “Painters Term Award System ‘Pink Tea Fete’,” Chicago Daily Journal, 3/15/1915, p.4.

 [[25]]The other articles included “Artists Rebel at ‘Layman’ Jury of Club Women,” Chicago Tribune, 3/15/1915, p.1, and “Art Is Long, But Money Talks Here; War Hits Institute,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/15/1915, p.1.

 [[26]]Op. cit., Chicago Journal, 3/15/1915, p.4.

 [[27]]Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 3/15/1915, p.1.

 [[28]]Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 3/15/1915, p.1. The complete list also included: Frank A. Werner; Oskar Gross; Wellington J. Reynolds; Mrs. John Alden Carpenter; Cecil Clark Davis; Katherine Dudley; Walter Ufer; Emil Zettler; Harriet Blackstone and Abram Poole. Both Gross and Davis had won prizes at the recent Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists Chicago and Vicinity.

 [[29]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 3/15/1915, p.1.

 [[30]]“Art Tempest Grows; Blast Follows Blast,” Chicago Herald, 3/16/1915, p.4.

 [[31]]Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 3/15/1915, p.1.

 [[32]]Op. cit., Chicago Herald, 3/16/1915, p.4.

 [[33]]Op. cit., Chicago Herald, 3/16/1915, p.4.

 [[34]]“Artists Defy Clubwomen,” Chicago Daily Journal, 3/16/1915, p.2.

 [[35]]Marie Armstrong, “Fair Art Institute Students Rally to Artists’ Support,” Chicago Journal, 3/16/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.160.

 [[36]]“Drop Palettes To Join Battle Of Art And Gold,” Chicago Tribune, 3/16/1915, p.13.

 [[37]]“Art Commercialized Says Jerome S. Blum,” Chicago Herald, 3/17/1915, p.7.

 [[38]]“Art Awards And Art,” Chicago Tribune, 3/17/1915, p.6.

 [[39]]“Art Revolt Growing Bitter,” Chicago Examiner, 3/17/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.160.

 [[40]]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/25/1915, p.6.

 [[41]]“Art ‘Prize’ Labels Assailed by Artists,” Chicago Examiner, 3/18/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.161. “Artists Win in Dispute: Labels of Pictures Read “Rosenwald and Butler Purchases,” Chicago Herald, 3/18/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.162.

 [[42]]“League to Buy Pictures,” Chicago Herald, 3/19/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.162.

 [[43]]“Clarkson In Art League Confab,” Chicago Examiner, 3/19/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, col. 4, p.162.

 [[44]]“Art,” Chicago Tribune, 3/19/1915, p.15.

 [[45]]“Artists Bury Hatchet,” Chicago Herald, 3/20/1915, p.6.

 [[46]]Op. cit., Chicago Herald, 3/20/1915, p.6.

 [[47]]“Society of Artists Elects,” Chicago Tribune, 4/6/1915, p.9.

 [[48]]“Artists’ Society Asks Institute to End Trouble,” Chicago Examiner, 4/6/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, page number unclear.

 [[49]]“Artists Will Pick Own Juries,” Chicago Examiner, 4/9/1915 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, col. 2, p.8. The Municipal Art League withheld it’s Mrs. William Frederick Grower Prize and Mrs. William Ormonde Thompson Portraiture Prize in 1916. But, by the time this action was taken, the Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists Chicago and Vicinity already benefited by the addition of several new prizes which would render this action ineffective.

 [[50]]“Artists Marking Time in Ruling on Award Juries,” Chicago Examiner, 4/11/1915, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, p.12.

 [[51]]Letter from Frank A. Werner, secretary of the commission, to Lawton Parker, 4/6/1915.

 [[52]]Archives of the Commission are found in the archives of the Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago. Despite missing well over half of the paintings given to it, the Chicago Public School collection is yet formidable.

 [[53]]“U. S. Women Are Vain, Artist Declares,” Chicago American, Extra; 1 Special Extra edition, Vol. XV, No. 234, 4/7/1915, p.3.

 [[54]]“Artists’ Society Members Plan Independent Exhibit,” Chicago Herald, 4/9/1915, p.9.

 [[55]] Exhibition by Nine Chicago Painters, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1915). The group included what could be termed at the time as the most illustrious group of Chicago painters: Louis Betts; Charles Francis Brown; Ralph E. Clarkson; William P. Henderson; Wilson H. Irvine; Karl A. Buehr; Oliver D. Grover and Parker. Of these, Betts, Brown, Clarkson, Henderson, and Parker did not show at the annual exhibition. They were otherwise known at the “Great Nine.” Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 5/13/1915, p.15.

 [[56]]Op. cit., Chicago Herald, 4/9/1915, p.8.

 [[57]] Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 5/16/1915, p.E9.

 [[58]] Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 5/18/1915, p.15.

 [[59]]“Society At The Opera,” Chicago Tribune, 11/23/1915, p.9.

 [[60]]Chicago Evening Post, 6/24/1916, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, p.40.

 [[61]]First Annual Exhibition of Independent Artists, (Chicago: Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, 8/2/1915).

 [[62]]The commission’s most important mission was to oversee any public art to be placed in the city. A secondary concern was the development of a municipal art gallery. Under the Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art, which Parker was a part of, the mayor had authorized the purchase of several canvases from local painters each year from the city budget to be used to decorate public buildings and schools. By the 1940s, the collection would encompass over three hundred works. “Taft and Clarkson Ousted From Art Body by Mayor,” Chicago Examiner, 6/2/1915 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, col. 1, p.34. It is likely Parker promoted the idea of the Zettler on the commission. Zettler had expressed total surprise at the honor in “Mayor Names Zettler On City Art Commission,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/2/1915, p.3.

 [[63]] “Contest Will Decide Choice Of City Flag,” Chicago Herald, 12/2/1915 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, col. 1, p.92.

 [[64]]Eleanor Jewett, “Art And Architecture: How the Chicago Municipal Flag Came to be Chosen,” Chicago Tribune, 7/17/1921, p.G3.

 [[65]]When Frank McComas visited Chicago in January 1916, he chose “several” paintings by Parker and ten by Ritman for the continuing exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts after the close of the Panama-Pacific. Dr. Albrecht Montgelas, “M’Comas Pays Visit,” Chicago Examiner, 1/5/1916 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 33, col. 2, p.121. This exhibit was most likely under the auspices of the San Francisco Art Association. McComas had been one of the jurors of the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

 [[66]]Harriet Monroe, “Smaller Cities Aspire to be Homes of Art Museums,” Chicago Tribune, 10/5/1913, p.B8. Other members on the jury included artists from Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis. Frederic Clay Bartlett was the other jurist from Chicago. “Paintings chosen for Panama Exposition,” Chicago Examiner, 12/4/1914, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 32, p.78.

 [[67]]Illustrated Official Catalogue. Department of Fine Arts. Panama-Pacific International Exposition (With Awards), (San Francisco: Wahlgreen Company, 1915), p.168.

 [[68]]“Fine Arts Palace At Fair Stays Open Until May 1,” Chicago Tribune, 11/28/1915, p.5. “Fair Building to Stay Open,” Chicago Tribune, 11/29/1915, p.11.

 [[69]]“Plan ‘Hall Of Fame’ For Chicago Architects,” Chicago Tribune, 6/9/1915, p.6. He had recently completed a portrait of Judge Nathaniel C. Sears for presentation to Beloit College, illustrated in “Portrait to Be Unveiled at Beloit,” Chicago Tribune, 6/22/1915, p.9. It was clear he continued active with such commissions.

 [[70]]Harvey B. Fuller, “Artists of the Northwest,” Art and Progress, Vol. 6, July 1915, p.316.

 [[71]]Op. cit., Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, pp.31-33.

 [[72]]Op. cit., Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, p.34.

 [[73]]Op. cit., Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, pp.37-38.

 [[74]]Cox-McCormack would later model a sculpture of Parker whom she described as a “professional friend,” taking pains to point out discussion between the sexes should be “wholesome.” Letter to Alice Gerstenberg from Nancy Cox-McCormack, Nancy Cox-McCormack papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Box No. 1, Summer 1951, p.8.

 [[75]]American Oil Paintings and Sculpture, Twenty-Eighth Annual Exhibition, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 11/16/1915).

 [[76]]Peter Falk, editor, The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1888-1950, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990), p.682.

 [[77]]“Art Institute Alumni Dinner,” Chicago Daily News, 2/15/1916, p.13.

 [[78]]Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 2/12/1916, p.14.

 [[79]] “Society Events,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/2/1915, p.9, and Lena M. McCauley, “Art & Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/6/1915, p.8. Parker invited the most influential supporters of the successful Artists’ Guild of Chicago, an organization which had melded laymen and artist interests in a commercial gallery in the Fine Arts Building.

 [[80]]A list of those on the organizing committee may be found in Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 11/29/1915, p.15. Part of the group’s importance was shown immediately when their inaugural exhibit, November 25, 1916, was a one-man exhibition of paintings by John Singer Sargent.

 [[81]] “Art Notes,” Chicago Daily Journal, 2/15/1916, p.6.

 [[82]] “New Club To Foster Art Here,” Chicago Examiner, 3/8/1916, col. 1, p.22, and “Art Club of Chicago Is Organized,” Chicago Examiner, 3/22/1916, col. 4, p.39, in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 34. The meeting was held on a Wednesday, the article mistakenly stated a Tuesday which would have been the twenty-first.

 [[83]] “New Arts Club Selects Location for Quarters,” Chicago Herald, 3/22/1916, p.8.

 [[84]] Op. cit., Chicago Examiner, 3/22/1916. See also: Sophia Shaw, “A Collection to Remember,” The Arts Club of Chicago. The Collection 1916-1996, (Chicago: The Arts Club of Chicago, 1997), pp. 21-22. Shaw quotes sculptor Nancy Cox-McCormack as saying Parker thought to organize the group with a president other than himself. Presumably, Parker was seeking to spread influence for the club by finding someone in Grace McGann who was tied closely to the prominent social circles in Chicago.

 [[85]]Louise James Bargelt, “Sargent and Dearth Paintings Shown,” Chicago Tribune, 11/7/1916, p.14.

 [[86]] A detailed letter to prospective members describing the purposes of the club was reprinted in Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/11/1915, p.8. The club incorporated the activities of the Artists’ Guild which was to remain active and help with the rent for a new building.

 [[87]] Op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 11/6/1915, p.8.

 [[88]]“Appui Aux Artistes Reception Is Held,” Chicago Tribune, 2/2/1916, p.15. Anne Ellis, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 2/1/1916, p.21.

 [[89]] “Comment by Mme. X,” Chicago Tribune, 1/30/1916, p.D1.

 [[90]] “Art Notes,” Chicago Daily Journal, 2/5/1916, p.4. Parker explained any artist of any nationality could apply for aid.

 [[91]] “Chicagoans Aid Appui aux Artistes,” Chicago Tribune, 1/28/1916, p.15.

 [[92]]Op. cit., Bargelt, Chicago Tribune, 5/5/1916, p.16.

 [[93]] Some of the other members of the jury included Childe Hassam, Richard Miller and Willard Metcalf.

 [[94]]Noted as the “Thurber Building”, the home of W. Scott Thurber galleries was in the Fine Arts Building. “Comment by Mme X,” Chicago Tribune, 11/5/1916, p.G4.

 [[95]] “Art Notes,” Chicago Daily Journal, 12/5/1916, p.9.

 [[96]]Louise James Bargelt, “Sargent and Dearth Paintings Shown,” Chicago Tribune, 11/7/1916, p.14.

 [[97]] Op. cit., Parker letter to Gest, 10/18/1916.

 [[98]]“What Artists Are Doing,” in “News of the Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/28/1916, p.11: “Lawton Parker has gone to New York to live permanently.”

 [[99]] Letter to J. H. Gest from Lawton Parker, 4/12/1916, Cincinnati Art Museum Archives. Mr. Gest had requested Parker’s prized painting La Paresse, for exhibition at their American Annual.

 [[100]] Op. cit., New York Sun, 9/30/1917, p.10. The fund had established a bi-annual “Paris Prize” of substantial value. In awarding the prize, as a trustee, Parker had part in the final decision. See for example, “Boston Man Wins $4,500 Art Prize, Cincinnati Students Get Two Lesser Awards,” Arts & Decoration, July 1921, p.204. There was controversy in one award when the trustees refused to follow the jury of artist’s selection due to what they thought a copy of a painting rather than an original. As Parker was the only artist on the board of trustees, it is likely he was the one who discovered the error and guided the other trustees. “Trustees Withhold Paris Prize Award,” New York Times, 7/6/1923, p.6.

 [[101]] Letter to J. H. Gest from Lawton Parker, 10/18/1916, Cincinnati Art Museum Archives.

 [[102]]“Elected to National Academy,” New York Times, 4/13/1916. “Academy Of Design Prizes,” New York Times, 12/11/1916, Section 1, p.18. “Lawton Parker Awarded Prize,” Chicago Tribune, 12/11/1916, p.2.

Part 5

Given the acclaim and his real estate project, Parker had ample reason to remain in New York. He planned construction of a fourteen-storey new artist’s studio building, [[1]] like his successful venture at 19 E. Pearson in Chicago. [[2]] Named the Rodin Studios and located near Carnegie Hall at 200 West 57th Street, [[3]] it was built at a cost of $1.4 million. [[4]] Money for the facility was arranged through a corporation to which interested tenants subscribed. Parker was the President, artist, and heiress Georgia Timken Fry (1861-1921 [[5]]) was vice president and her husband John Hemming Fry (1861-1946), who had earlier experience as vice president of the Gainsborough Studios in New York, and was the owner of Art World, was treasurer. [[6]] Georgia was the daughter of wealthy industrialist Henry Timken whose namesake company was the largest maker of ball bearings in the U. S. The three had most likely met in Paris during their respective student days and since both the Frys were artists they may have studied with Parker. Parker had always been successful in attracting wealthy patrons and this business venture was no different.


Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) was their chosen architect. It is likely he was Parker’s choice as they had probably met in Chicago. Although from St. Paul, he had enough business in Chicago maintain an office in the Auditorium building in the late 1890s. [[7]] He had previously been responsible for the New York Custom House and Woolworth Building designs. [[8]] The building was a decided success, two thirds leased before it opened. [[9]] A New York critic wrote aptly:


“Not far away is Carnegie Hall… then there is the Lotus Club… Many hotels of the first class are to be found in the neighborhood and two blocks to the north is Central Park. A more admirable location could not have been secured… both in point of artistic surroundings, convenience to the theatres, leading shops, railroad terminals and street car lines.” [[10]]


Parker moved into the building in late 1917, [[11]] and was still the active manager of the building by 1920. [[12]]


Despite his move he continued to maintain ties to Chicago. At the end of 1917, he served on the New York committee for an upcoming retrospective exhibit of alumni of the Art Institute of Chicago. A large and encompassing exhibit, for artists who had attended the largest art school in the country, he was one of a dozen on the eastern committee. [[13]] Even in 1921, he was listed on the roster of the Chicago Society of Artists as an active member, exhibiting in their “First” annual show. [[14]] During this period he exhibited with the Lyme Art Association and spent summers there taking advantage of his Eastern locale. [[15]]


In the second half of 1920, Parker sold his interest in the Rodin Studio Building to his partner John Fry. [[16]] This must have left Parker a sizeable sum and with it he chose to leave New York to reside outside of Paris around 1921. [[17]] We do not know exactly when Parker moved to Paris. He continued to return to Old Lyme, or at least send paintings there, until 1927. [[18]] His nephew recounts that Uncle Lawton had been an early investor in AT&T and achieved a certain amount of financial independence from his investments. [[19]]


A careful and adept businessman throughout his career as an artist, between his multiple teaching positions, his school, his valuable portrait commissions and successful real estate ventures, he could certainly have achieved the financial independence, so few artists ever see. [[20]] He likely had a steady stream of visitors from Chicago as after the war Paris was very much back in fashion. One former pupil, Cecil Clark Davis, made the move to Paris with her mother in 1922, possibly to re-unite with Parker, but certainly re-acquainted. [[21]] Art Institute teacher Wellington Jarard Reynolds had been friendly with Parker for decades. When Reynolds won a prize at the Paris Salon it was Parker and Ritman who notified him, further solidifying the reality that Parker and Ritman stayed close to each other in France. [[22]] Reynolds stopped to see him while traveling France in 1925. He recounted Parker had purchased a chateau twenty miles from Paris and was living in comfort with servants to care for his needs. [[23]] He also spoke of Parker’s chief financial success from his real estate venture in New York. [[24]]


The town Reynolds spoke of was the village of Plailly, in Oise, where Parker had settled into the life of an expatriate on his six-acre estate, Chateau d’Andecy. [[25]] Parker married Beatrice Snow, an American librarian on study in France, on March 16, 1927. [[26]] Their home was a town of only four hundred, comprised mostly farmers, where the quiet life prevailed. On the top fourth floor of the chateau Parker kept his studio where he mostly painted sketches and experimented with various forms of printing. One of the workrooms contained a large press; there were plenty of printer’s chemicals and a darkroom to develop photography. [[27]] He left a long record of prints in various mediums, primarily monotype, etching and dry point. [[28]] There has been some implication of recent that he came to work with prints only late in his career. However, as early as 1903, one newspaper commented, “In his leisure hour late in the afternoon Mr. Parker was working on a dry-point study of a picturesque young woman posed before him.” He had shown the critic another dry-point nude study as well. [[29]] It is clear from a review of the subject matter, style and execution of the works in a one-man exhibition at R. H. Love Galleries, that Parker was involved in printmaking throughout his career.


Parker was friendly for years with expatriate artist Myron Barlow (1873-1937), who lived in Etaples. Correspondence between the two artists from 1933 to 1937 focuses on print techniques and the extensive experimentation each was conducting as evidenced by detailed notes in Barlow’s letters to Parker. [[30]] In 1935, an exhibition by members of the Artists Professional League opened in Paris to strong reviews. Critic B. J. Kospoth noted, “Lawton Parker’s monotone nudes are a ‘tour de force’.” [[31]]


Throughout the late twenties and thirties, Parker lived a comparatively comfortable life, somewhat pinched by the Depression, but none the less free to do as they please. His nephew recounted in great detail the pleasures of their life in France leading up to World War II. [[32]] When the Germans marched into France, Parker knew he had to get his family and himself out. He left the beautiful estate with his wife and young son for Paris and then proceeded to get them off to America via the Spanish border where they would join relatives in Montana. Parker returned to the estate to find the Germans had overtaken the place and stolen valuable items. [[33]]


It is fortunate the Germans didn’t confiscate or destroy the masterpiece, La Paresse. [[34]] Parker’s nephew makes no mention of the Germans destroying any of Parker’s work, nor did Parker make any such mention after leaving France. It is important to remember that he had basically ceased active painting before moving to his estate and thus there would not have been a large body of post 1922 work. None of Parker’s work would have been considered “degenerate” by the Nazis. Therefore, claims that the Nazis destroyed his work are certainly unsubstantiated and untrue. [[35]]


Between 1940 and 1942, Lawton was trapped in occupied Paris. Now homeless and considerably poorer, he scraped to get by. It was probably difficult to get funds into occupied France from his financial sources in the United States. He had joined painting classes which were kept warm for the benefit of the models. [[36]] Lawton fled France shortly after the United States was drawn into the war and arrived safely in New York in early July 1942 on the diplomatic exchange liner Drotiningholm; he was now seventy-three years of age. [[37]] By 1943, he and his wife Bea, had settled near the Arroyo Seco, in Pasadena, near family and artist friends such as Alson Clark. [[38]] He had enough money to afford the home and some conveniences and lived comfortably. There he completed his retirement plans by selling his beautiful estate outside Paris, after the war ended. [[39]]


During the years leading up to the war, his nephew related he repurchased several of his paintings when his brand of Impressionism had fallen out of favor. Whether or not this is true, Parker was known to keep his most important works as they yielded him more publicity in exhibition than in tucked away in a collection. The Pasadena Society of Artists held a one-man exhibition of his works in March 1945. Parker was the guest of honor at their monthly dinner and recounted the story of his escape from France and earlier experiences with Whistler. [[40]]


The last eight years of his life were spent quietly at home where he died on September 25, 1954 and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. His obituary was about as succinct as possible in summing up his career, “Lawton S. Parker, rated by many critics as one of the greatest figure painters in America.” [[41]]


As a postscript, it is interesting to follow the fate of his paintings upon his demise. His wife moved to New York with their son and placed them in storage. After she died in 1972, the works remained in storage. Son Larry was married and during the delivery of their second child (a son) complications resulted in years of medical costs. By the time the Pasadena storage company made demand for payment of past due bills, Larry hadn’t the funds to sacrifice in favor of his son’s health. The paintings were sold at a liquidation sale on April 13, 1974. A collector and his wife searched for the paintings after their dispersal and were able to bring together enough works to exhibit at the Baxter Art Gallery of the California Institute of Technology in April 1976. The group of paintings included some prized Giverny works and were sold by the collector to various dealers and other collectors throughout the country. [[42]]


 [[1]] Beginning in 1880, West Fifty-seventh Street became a location for several artist’s studio/residences with the construction of the Sherwood Studio Building at the corner of Sixth avenue. The Rembrandt Studio Building opened nearby in 1881, adjacent to the later Carnegie Hall Studios and Duplex Studios. In 1892, the American Fine Arts Society Building was constructed. For a complete discussion on the Sherwood Studio Building, see: John Davis, “Our United Happy Family: Artists in the Sherwood Studio Building, 1880-1900,” Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 36, Nos. 3-4, 1996, p.19. A brief description of the plans was mentioned in “Revised Plans Filed,” New York Times, 11/26/1916, p.7.

 [[2]] Albrecht Montgelas, “News Of The Art World,” “Art News and Gossip,” Chicago Examiner, 12/11/1916 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 35, cols. 3-4, p.22.

 [[3]]It was popular to name such studio buildings after famous artists such as the buildings named after Van Dyck and Gainsborough in New York.

 [[4]] “No Apartments in the City to Suit Them, so Noted Artists Built Their Own House,” New York Sun, 9/30/1917, p.10. A photograph of the building and Parker’s studio accompanied the article. See also: “Apartment Studio Building, No. 220 West 57th Street,” American Architect, Vol. 113, No. 2194, 1/9/1918, p.38. The building housed retail space on the first floor, business offices on floors two and part of three and apartment/studios on the remaining floors three through fourteen.

 [[5]] She died of pneumonia while traveling in China. “Obituary: Georgia Timken Fry,” American Art News, Vol. XIX, No. 43, 9/17/1921, p.6.                

 [[6]] For complete details on the building see “Landmarks Preservation Commission, Designation List 200, Lp-1571,” Typescript, New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, 2/16/1988 and “Apartment Studio Building, No.200 West 57Th Street,” The American Architect, Vol. 113, No. 2194, 1/9/1918, p.38. The corporation had purchased the lot in 1916 from the Mary Chisholm estate and proceeded to have the existing structure demolished. See also: “Artist To Have 30-Room Suite,” New York Herald-Tribune, 10/15/1916, IHAP Library.

 [[7]]Isabel McDougall, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/8/1897, p.7.

 [[8]] For a brief contemporary review of Gilbert’s architectural work see: Anthony Robins, “Courting Beauty,” Preservation News, November/December 1998, pp.20-21. In 1892 Gilbert, had won a national competition to design a new customhouse at the southern end of Manhattan. Gilbert also designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

 [[9]] Op. cit., New York Sun, 9/30/1917, p.10.

 [[10]] Op. cit., New York Sun, 9/30/1917, p.10.

 [[11]] In an interview with the artists’ grandnephew, 5/2/1997, Mr. Freeman stated Parker had built a studio in New York as a real estate venture which was very successful financially for the artist. Lena McCauley announced in “News of the Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, “Artist Guild Has Review,” 10/2/1917, p.13, he was to make his permanent home in New York City.

 [[12]] “Gossip Here and There,” in “News of the Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, 7/20/1920, p.8.

 [[13]] Lena M. McCauley, “The Alumni Exhibition,” in “News Of The Art World,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/11/1917, p.10.

 [[14]] First Annual Exhibition By The Chicago Society of Artists, (Chicago: 1921) This certainly was not their first exhibition but they were attempting to break with the past. In the catalogue, no address is listed

 [[15]] Records of the Association show he exhibited from 1919 through 1923. Connecticut scholar Jeffery Andersen infers Parker arrived at Old Lyme sometime in the teens: “The Art Colony at Old Lyme,” Connecticut and American Impressionism, (Storrs: The William Benton Museum of Art, 1980), p.123. He was recorded as being in Lyme in “News Here and There,” “News Of The Art World,” supplement, Chicago Evening Post, 7/29/1919. A later article stated he would “resume painting and go to the country within a few weeks to do some outdoor work,” op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, 7/20/1920, p.8. A review of his work in the 1920 show is found in “The World Of Art: Old Lyme Exhibition,” New York Times, 8/22/1920, p.33. An earlier article stated he was a member of the Old Lyme Art Association among thirty-one artists. “Notes About Current Art: Old Lyme Summer Exhibits,” New York Times, 8/8/1920, Sec. 6, p.12.

 [[16]]American Art News, Vol. 18, No. 39, 9/18/1920, col. 1, p.6.

 [[17]]This date is derived by the last year he showed in the U. S. and “Hint Given of ‘Find’ On Refugee Vessel,” New York Times, 7/6/1942, Sec. 1, p.5. The article states he had been resident for twenty-one years, which would place him there in 1921. A local article claims twenty-one years residence as well noting Parker’s complaint in being questioned by the FBI upon returning to the U.S. after being chased out of France by the Nazis. “Editorial of the Day,” Chicago Tribune, 7/18/1942, p.10.

 [[18]] One reviewer commented extensively on his work in the 1920 exhibit. Op. cit., New York Times, 8/22/1920, p.33. American Magazine of Art, Vol. 15, October 1924, p.544, mentions his 1924 exhibit and “Lyme Colony Holds Annual Summer Show,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 8/2/1927, p.5, mentions his 1927 inclusion. The show was thoroughly described by Alice Lawton, “Chicagoans Exhibit in Old Lyme Show,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 8/9/1927, p.3. Parker remained an artist member of the organization through his death. “The Lyme Art Association Artist Members,” Catalogue of the Fifty-Third Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings, (Old Lyme: The Lyme Art Association, 7/10/1954).

 [[19]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.10.

 [[20]] His business acumen was credited with helping to make the Lyme, Connecticut artist’s gallery a financial success in a letter from Chicago businessman and painter Albert H. Ullrich, op. cit., Chicago Evening Post, “News of the Art World supplement,” 9/20/1921.

 [[21]]Mme. X, “News Of Chicago Society,” Chicago Tribune, 4/23/1922, p.F4.

 [[22]]“Wellington Reynolds, Chicago Artist, Wins Prize in Paris Salon,” Chicago Tribune, 6/4/1925, p.25.

 [[23]]“Reynolds Returns from Trip to Paris,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 10/13/1925, p.8. Reynolds had pointed specifically to the fact that Parker had made a fortune in his New York real estate venture which he had recently sold.

 [[24]]“Chicago Instructor Returns from Paris,” Rockford Gazette, 10/19/1925, p.15.

 [[25]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.13.

 [[26]]Reports from the family conflict on where the two met. Born April 21, 1897, in Deer Lodge, Montana, her father was the owner of a tavern in Billings, Montana. She was thirty years old and Parker was sixty when they married. One branch of the family maintains she was a librarian in Kearny, Nebraska, Parker’s hometown. Another conceivable connection is her father was somehow acquainted with Senator William A. Clark of Montana, whom Parker had met in Paris and when active in the American Art association of Paris. Parker won the second Clark prize at an exhibit sponsored by the association. She apparently did not attend college but when their son attended Northwestern University; she read the books that were his assignments. She died July 7, 1972, in New York City. Letter to the author from Joyce Young, 4/7/1999.

 [[27]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.15.

 [[28]] Richard H. Love and Danny Miller, Lawton Parker 1868-1954. Works on Paper, (Chicago: Haase-Mumm Publishing, 1995).

 [[29]] Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 5/23/1903, p.14.

 [[30]] Letters from Barlow to Parker were purchased by the Illinois Historical Art Project when the entire remaining body of prints and drawings by Parker were purchased from R. H. Love Galleries in Chicago. Two letters are undated and from the same stationery and pen as letter dated 9/5/1933, 9/28/1933, 10/11/1933, 6/20/1937. All are impressed with the address of “11, Rue Du Rivage, Etaples, P. DE. C.

 [[31]] B. J. Kospoth, “U. S. Artists Exhibit Art here Inaugurating American Gallery,” New York Herald, Paris, 4/26/1935. Article on file IHAP Library, courtesy of R. H. Love Galleries, Inc.

 [[32]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, pp.13-20.

 [[33]] The story of Mrs. Parker’s escape from France is recounted in Del Leeson, “The Prospector. In Last Chance Gulch,” Helena Daily Independent, 8/22/1940, IHAP Library. The article mentions the artist was friends with artist Leon Dabo who was then also living in France and attempting an escape.

 [[34]] In Freeman’s essay, p.28, he recounts Parker’s son Larry, telling him he asked that a large painting, about five by seven feet of a reclining nude, be shipped to New York from a storage company. Larry planned to sell this and other works.

 [[35]] Art dealer Ron Woodlin had gathered Parker’s works for sale in 1976 and made the claim in an advertisement in American Art Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, March-April 1976, p.21, that most of Parker’s work was destroyed, with the commercial implication that somehow the works Woodlin had gathered would be more valuable.

 [[36]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.22.

 [[37]]“A Line O’ Type Or Two,” Chicago Tribune, 7/8/1942, p.14. Op. cit., New York Times, 7/6/1942, Sec. 1, p.5. The several hundred passengers of the Drottningholm had been detained for questioning by authorities. Parker was quoted as saying the ordeal was “terrible.”

 [[38]] Op. cit., Freeman essay, p.24.

 [[39]]Advertisement, “10-Room Villa With 6 Beautiful Acres,” Previews, Incorporated, New York, New York, IHAP Library, no date, c.1946

 [[40]] “Parker Paintings to Be Shown At Institute,” Pasadena Star News, 3/6/1945, on file, Pasadena Public Library.

 [[41]] “Famed Figure Painter Dies in Pasadena; 86,” Pasadena Star News, 9/26/1954. On file, Pasadena Public Library.

 [[42]] These articles give greater detail; however, the reader should be cautious as they contain several factual errors regarding the life of Lawton Parker: Bert Mann, “Collector Saves Art From Dust,” Los Angeles Time, 4/15/1976, pp. 1,6, and Harold N. Hubbard, “Parker Works to Make Impression in Area,” Los Angeles Times, 4/16/1976, both on file, Pasadena Public Library.

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