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Louis Ritman (1889-1963)

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Louis Ritman in front of his painting, 1915

Louis Ritman by Suzanne L. Epstein and Joel S. Dryer © Illinois Historical Art Project

The American Impressionist Louis Ritman was born in 1889 in Kamenets-Podolski, a small city near Odessa in southwest Russia. His father Solomon was a textile designer. At the time of Louis’s birth, it is possible that Solomon and his wife Rebecca could have envisioned their infant son would eventually become a fabric designer like his father. However, it is unlikely either parent would have believed that their new born baby would grow up to become an award winning American portrait and figure painter, a prominent member of the second generation of American Impressionists, and a highly respected teacher at one of America’s most prominent art schools.

Although Kamenets-Podolski was an “important trading and communications center,”1 it does not appear to have had a rich artistic life. It was not known for possessing an important art museum where Louis could have seen and studied very good paintings nor does it appear to have had a distinguished art school where he could have received excellent artistic training. Also, it is very unlikely that there was a flourishing art market in the city which would have convinced the young man he would be able to earn a comfortable income as a portrait and figure painter.

Even if Kamenets-Podolski had possessed the necessary facilities for artistic exposure, instruction, and inspiration, it is doubtful that young Louis would have been able to take advantage of them because of his religion. He was Jewish and the municipality of Kamenets-Podolski for many centuries had prevented the attempts of Jews to settle there and engage in trade because they “were competing with the Christian inhabitants and were impoverishing them.”2 It was not until two years after the city passed from Poland to Russia in 1795, that Czar Paul I confirmed the rights of Jews to reside there. Within one hundred years, the Jewish community in Kamenets-Podolski numbered 16,211, which was forty percent of the total population. Despite their large numbers, the Jewish residents of the town do not appear to have enjoyed the same opportunities as the Gentile residents of the municipality during Louis Ritman’s early years.3 Therefore, it is probable the authorities would have prohibited him from participating in any of the city’s artistic programs because of his religion.

In addition, it is unlikely that the young man would have received much encouragement from his family to become a professional portrait and figure painter because of the propriety and economic viability of such a career. This negative attitude towards the pursuit of such a career has been a distinctive feature of Jewish life in many lands for centuries. This can be traced in part to the prohibitions in the Ten commandments and in Deuteronomy against the making of “a graven image nor any manner of likeness…”4 “even the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female.”5 Although many Old Testament scholars believe these biblical passages prohibit only the production of images in human form intended as objects of worship, others view these lines taken from Exodus and Deuteronomy as an absolute ban on the creation of any pictorial representation of man or woman.6 From Antiquity to the modern period, many artistically inclined individuals of Jewish birth have shared the latter interpretation and have therefore been reluctant to embrace a career focused on the creation of pictorial images of the human form.

In past centuries, a large number of Jews have also been discouraged from becoming portrait and figure painters because of the uncertain financial rewards of portrait painting as a profession. At the time of Louis Ritman’s birth in the late nineteenth century, most Jews were still choosing to pursue more practical careers in business, education, medicine or the law. Those Jews who were artistically inclined, like Louis’ father, usually preferred to find regular employment that allowed for use of their creative abilities. It was not until the early decades of the twentieth century that a significant number of young Jewish artists believed they could make a good living as professional portrait or figure painters.7 It is fortunate for the artistic life of Chicago that Louis Ritman was one of those artists.

In 1897, when Louis Ritman was eight years old, he immigrated to America with his parents and his four brothers. Louis’ older sister, Mollie, had already emigrated with an aunt whose husband decided at the last minute he did not want to leave Russia. According to Ritman’s younger brother Maurice, the adventuresome Mollie persuaded her aunt to allow her to use the ticket which had been intended for her uncle. She then dressed in male attire and traveled under her uncle’s name. When she reached America, she was able to convince the immigration authorities to admit her into the country. Within a short time, she had found a job and had earned enough money to buy tickets to America for the rest of her family.8 Mollie’s enthusiasm for her new life in America must have made it easy for her to persuade her parents to say good-bye forever to their life and their relatives and friends in Kamenets-Podolski. As a result of their daughter’s energy, enterprise and generosity, Solomon and Rebecca Ritman and their five sons were able to leave Russia and sail for the New World before the turn of the century.9 They therefore avoided the extreme suffering and the incessant heartache that was to be the fate of the members of the Jewish community of Kamenets-Podolski during the early decades of the twentieth century.10

Solomon and Rebecca Ritman and their sons entered America by way of Ellis Island. After passing the entrance examinations, they spent some time living in New York. They then moved on to Chicago to join Mollie.11 At first, they lived in temporary lodgings, but they eventually settled into a permanent residence on Chicago’s South Side.12

At the turn of the century, Chicago was a very dynamic city. In 1893, four years before the Ritman family traveled to America, Chicago had hosted a great World’s Fair to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. This fair, known as the World’s Columbian Exposition, attracted over twenty-seven million visitors from around the world during its six month run. Many of the people who came to the Fair were so impressed with the commercial and cultural opportunities in Chicago they decided to remain in the city after the close of the Fair. The splendid architecture of the Fair, together with its exquisitely landscaped setting, exerted a major influence on city planning and public building throughout the world for almost four decades. The 10,040 works of art on exhibit in the Palace of Fine Arts at the Fair13 provided many American visitors with their first contact with the art of foreign nations.

The Columbian Exposition introduced the general public as well as many art critics and artists to French and American Impressionism. Although Louis Ritman was only four years old in 1893, his future artistic development was to be decisively influenced by the impressive selection of sunlit Impressionist paintings that had been on display in the Palace of Fine Arts at the Fair.14 At the time of the Columbian Exposition a large number of American artists were using the bright sunlit colors and dynamic brushwork of Impressionism to create naturalistic landscapes and figure paintings. Most of the American practitioners of Impressionism had started to work in the Impressionist mode a few years earlier, in the second half of the1880s. Some of them had been introduced to Impressionism while they were studying in Paris in the late 1870s and early 1880s. They had soon become enamored with the glowing colors and bold brushstrokes in the canvases of Monet and his fellow Impressionists. Before long, these young American artists had also begun to paint in the open air and to use lively separate brushstrokes of pure color to suggest form and to convey the sensation of sunlight in their own work. In the later 1880s, several of these young Americans traveled to Giverny, a small village northwest of Paris, where Claude Monet had settled in 1883. Although Monet did not take students, a few Americans were able to enjoy the benefits of his friendship and artistic advice. In addition, many of the American visitors to Giverny found a wealth of artistic material for their own sunlit canvases in the exquisite gardens, rural inhabitants, and attractive landscape of the enchanting village and surrounding countryside.

In 1886, the Paris art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel organized an exhibit of French Impressionist painting in New York City. Included in the exhibit were forty-eight paintings by Monet and thirty-eight by Renoir. The show was such a stunning financial and critical success that it inspired many American artists to exchange the linear precision and muted palette in their own work for the bright colors and lively separate brushstrokes of Impressionism. The lovely luminous pictures in the Durand Ruel exhibit also helped to open the eyes of many American collectors to the distinctive beauty of the glorious sunlit canvases of the American practitioners of the Impressionist style.15 By 1893 Impressionism had become the preferred artistic style of many of the most eminent artists at work in the northeastern part of the United States. It had also become the favorite artistic style of many of America’s most prominent critics and collectors. As a result, the American Galleries in the Fine Arts Palace contained a large number of sunlit outdoor scenes and figure paintings by such talented and highly regarded painters as William Merritt Chase (1849-1916),16 Childe Hassam (1859-1935),17 Theodore Robinson (1852-1896),18 Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938),19 and John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902).20 Some of these pictures were singled out for special commentary, including Edmund Tarbell’s In The Orchard (formerly Terra Museum of American Art) a huge canvas which was praised for its “intense vivacity of coloring” and its “smiles and sunshine.”21 After seeing the enchanting French Impressionist loan display at the Fair, many Midwestern artists and critics became enthusiastic about the charming subject matter, bright colors, and animated brush strokes in the paintings of the French Impressionists.22 Soon several of those same artists and critics were likewise applauding and promoting the sunlit palette and dynamic brushwork in the splendid American Impressionist paintings on exhibit in the American Galleries of the Fine Arts Palace at the Fair.23 Before long, these Midwestern artists also began to introduce the animated brushstrokes of pure color of the Impressionists into their own pictures.

Ritman’s two most important artistic mentors, Lawton Parker (1868-1954) and Frederick Frieseke (1874-1939), were among the many Midwestern academic artists who enjoyed viewing the American Impressionist paintings in the Fine Arts Palace of the Fair. Although Parker and Frieseke did not introduce the animated brushwork and glowing colors of Impressionism into their work until several years after the Fair, both artists were to become leading members of the second generation of American Impressionists during the early decades of the twentieth century. By the time of the Columbian Exposition, the Nebraska born Parker had graduated from the School of the Art Institute and had studied with the celebrated academic painter Jean Leon Gérôme in Paris.24 Parker had recently become the head of the Art Department at Beloit College in Wisconsin. During the previous year, he had served as the Director of the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. In 1893, he included several of his own canvases in the St. Louis Department in the art building at the world’s fair. Parker’s admiration for the American Impressionist paintings at the Fair is suggested by his decision to take classes in 1894 and 1895 with several of the American Impressionists who had exhibited at the Fair. However, during the next seventeen years, he also spent much of his time painting portraits in an academic style. Then, in the early years of the twentieth century, Parker started to spend his summers painting in Giverny. While working there, he began to utilize the bold brushwork and bright colors of Impressionism to create sunlit pictures of women, dressed and undressed, at leisure in the open air.25

At Giverny, Parker often painted in a beautiful walled garden he shared with fellow Midwesterner and Art Institute of Chicago graduate, Frieseke.26 Like Parker, the Michigan born Frieseke had worked in an academic style in the 1890s.27 Then in 1905, Frieseke started to summer in Giverny28 where he began to use the lively brushstrokes and pure colors of Impressionism to create his own brand of sunlit pictures. During Frieseke’s years at Giverny, he enjoyed painting “sunshine, flowers in sunshine, girls in sunshine, the nude in sunshine.”29 He also created pictures of women in interiors flooded with sunlight.30 With his connection to Chicago, Frieseke attracted Lawton Parker to Giverny. Parker then later attracted Ritman there.31 By the time Louis Ritman arrived in Giverny in 1910, he was twenty-one years old and had been a resident of Chicago for thirteen years. Ritman had been very fortunate his family chose Chicago as their American home. At the turn of the century, Chicago was a major art center;32 and the city provided young Ritman with a variety of outstanding opportunities to develop his considerable artistic talent. The young boy’s astonishing creative ability had been evident since his childhood. At a very early age, he had begun to draw incessantly; and he would frequently amaze family members with the proficiency and attractiveness of his artistic creations.33

In Chicago, Solomon Ritman supported his large family by working as a designer-tailor for Hart, Schaffner and Marx, a prosperous manufacturer of men’s wear.34 Because he earned barely enough to provide his family with their most basic needs, he was not able to supply young Louis with such expensive luxuries as private art lessons. Nevertheless, when Louis was in his very early teens he was able to study art at Chicago’s Hull House, a settlement house for immigrants.35

Hull House was an extraordinary institution that had been established in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams in an attempt to elevate the lives of the multitudes of poor immigrants in the city. The well educated, well-traveled Miss Addams had opened her establishment in a dilapidated mansion on the corner of Polk and Halsted streets. The house had been built by a Chicago businessman, Charles J. Hull, as a country residence; but it was now located in the center of a crowded community of poor Greek, Italian, Russian, and German immigrants.36 Miss Addams lived in the house with a group of around twenty women from privileged backgrounds, who shared her desire to help improve the lives of the less fortunate. These energetic public-spirited women decorated the mansion with framed pictures and fine furniture. They then invited their foreign born neighbors to visit the house and attend the impressive variety of lectures and classes that were available on the premises.37 By the time he was fourteen, Ritman had become one of the many ambitious young people who were taking advantage of the amazing educational opportunities offered there.38 Louis received his first formal art instruction at Hull House in the Wednesday evening classes taught by Miss Enella Benedict (1858-1942). Miss Benedict was a superbly trained artist and gifted instructor, who was also on the faculty of the School of the Art Institute. She taught young Ritman the fundamentals of drawing and quickly perceived his immense artistic talent.39

It was around this time Ritman began to use his artistic talent to contribute to the support of his family. He became a painter of signs, earning seven dollars a day, “all of which he gave to his mother.”40 His unusual artistic ability became evident to his co-workers in 1903 during the fourth mayoral election campaign of Carter Henry Harrison, the younger. Harrison’s election committee had decided they wanted their candidate’s portrait painted on a banner, so they brought their request to the shop in which Ritman was working. After the foreman of the shop said the work was too difficult, Ritman stated he could do it and proceeded to paint the portrait in half a day.41 While working at the sign shop, young Ritman continued his artistic studies at Hull House in the evenings. His teacher was so impressed with his unusual talent that she soon advised him to study at a more advanced school;42On October 2, 1905, at the age of sixteen, Ritman entered the evening life drawing class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago..43 In June of 1906, Ritman began to take evening classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.44 After studying at the Academy at nights for a period of eight months, he was awarded a scholarship worth fifty dollars in free tuition for his skill in drawing.45 The scholarship money enabled him to embark
upon a more extensive program of study during the next school year. Then in June 1907, Ritman was awarded a scholarship by Lawton Parker,46 and on July 1,1907, Ritman enrolled for a nine month term of both afternoon and evening classes at the Academy.47 Parker had joined the faculty of the Academy in 1903. By the time of the scholarship, Parker had spent many years  studying and teaching in Chicago, New York, and Paris. He was a highly regarded teacher and painter who had won many medals and awards for his work. Parker’s involvement in the scholarship judging was probably his first contact with his future protégé.

By 1908, Ritman was also taking daytime classes at the School of the Art Institute.48 Ritman’s professor was John Henry Vanderpoel (1857-1911).49 Vanderpoel was a gifted and dedicated instructor, who endeavored to provide his students with a strong foundation in the academic tradition.50 He believed the development of a proficiency in drawing was the most important achievement in the education of an artist. He therefore emphasized the fundamentals of fine draftsmanship in his classes and encouraged his students to work hard to improve their ability to work with line. In addition, he wrote several articles on art and anatomy, which later became the basis for his 1907 text entitled The Human Figure.51 Ever since his childhood, Louis Ritman had demonstrated a love of drawing and an astonishing talent for working with line. There is therefore no doubt he enjoyed Vanderpoel’s classes immensely and benefited tremendously from the training he received there. Vanderpoel’s superb instruction in the handling of line was probably a major factor in Ritman’s development into an accomplished draftsman. It is also likely that Vanderpoel’s emphasis on the importance of drawing the human figure exerted a significant influence on Ritman’s decision to become a professional portrait and figure painter.

Despite his family’s dependence on his financial contributions to their support, “his parents willingly made the sacrifice of allowing him to attend the day classes at the academy, thus giving up his position as a street sign painter.”52 The enormous amount of energy and time he had already expended on artistic studies must have convinced his parents of the intensity of his resolve to become a professional artist. The scholarship he won most likely confirmed their belief in the immensity of his artistic gift In June of 1908, Ritman was awarded another tuition scholarship by the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts committee. Sharing first prize with Arthur Wetther, the Walter Gaylord Leland prize was worth fifty dollars to each artist.53 During the previous school year, he had spent much of his time working with Wellington J. Reynolds (1866-1949), one of the Academy’s most gifted
teachers, who later moved to the School of the Art Institute. Reynolds had studied in Munich; and in his own paintings, he combined the bold brushwork of the Munich School with an academic respect for solidly rendered form. He instructed Ritman in the fundamentals of painting on canvas. In addition, he shared with his young student his distinctive approach to figure painting and portraiture.54

Ritman’s swift and skillful absorption of his teacher’s suggestions and advice can be seen in the fine draftsmanship and accomplished brushwork in the handsome portrait he painted of Reynolds between 1906 and 1907.55 The impact of the style of the Munich School is evident in the bold contrasts between dark and light and the fluid brushstrokes in the picture. The Reynolds portrait, which is now in the Smart Gallery at the University of Chicago, is an important achievement for a seventeen year old artist. In February 1909, the same painting was chosen for the Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute. Although there were more than three hundred works in the exhibition, Ritman’s portrait of Reynolds was one of the few paintings in the show to be mentioned and praised in a contemporary review,56 and was remarked upon as being advanced for the early stage in his career:


“…remarkable, because this young artist, although he is still a student at the New Academy, in this work shows not only a remarkable gift for drawing, modeling, and seizure of the character and refinement of a sitter, but seems to have altogether overleapt the period of halting amateurism, which every student for a time naturally exhibits. Not only that, but in addition to ease and accuracy of drawing, he undoubtedly possesses that far more uncommon distinction even among mature portrait painters – Style!”57

During the summer of 1908, Ritman won a tuition scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.58 Enrollment in the Academy would provide him with the chance to study with several of America’s finest art teachers, including the highly revered William Merritt Chase. Chase had been on the faculty of the Academy since 1896, when he had begun to commute almost every week between New York and Philadelphia so that he could instruct students at art schools in both cities.59 Chase was a remarkable artist, who created handsome portraits, elegant figure studies, vibrant sunlit landscapes, and attractive still life paintings. In addition, he was an exceptional teacher, who was noted for “his generosity and kindness to his pupils” and his extraordinary efforts to help them make the most of their inborn artistic talents.60Ritman was wise enough to recognize the immense value of studying with an artist and teacher as gifted and celebrated as Chase. The Pennsylvania Academy scholarship gave him an opportunity to study with one of the most eminent art teachers in America. Enrollment records of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts show Ritman studied there between October and November of 1908.61 It is not known why he did not remain there for a longer time or whether he participated in any formal classes with Chase. However, he later revealed to his brother Maurice Ritman that Chase “had given him good advice.”62 It is probable that Chase’s “good advice” included the recommendation of a European visit to further his artistic studies. Before accepting a teaching position in 1878 at the Art Students League in New York, William Merritt Chase had spent six years studying in Europe. Since then, he had returned to Europe many times to derive inspiration and instruction from the Old Master paintings in the museums of Paris, London, Madrid and Florence. He was so convinced about the importance of European study for the full realization of an individual’s artistic potential that he often took his students with him on his European tours.63 It was common for artists to seek further study abroad during this period in American Art; and Ritman’s decision to travel to Paris in 1909 was most likely decisively influenced by Chase's enthusiastic comments to him on the artistic benefits of European study.64

Before leaving for Paris in the autumn of 1909, Ritman spent several months in Chicago. From February to June of that year, he attended a series of morning classes at the School of the Art Institute. He must have done well in those classes because in June he received an Honorable Mention for a Life Study of a Head. He then enrolled in the Art Institute’s Summer School program. From July to September, he worked at the school on drawing with charcoal from life.65 By the end of the summer, he had become an accomplished portraitist. His proficiency is evident in his handsome charcoal drawing of a woman that was selected by Maude Oliver as one of the four works of art to illustrate her article entitled “ Work of School of the Art Institute, Chicago” in the October 1909 issue of International Studio.66 During this period Ritman began to paint portraits on commission. He must have received a considerable number of portrait commissions during that time for he was soon able to rent a studio in the prestigious Tree Studio Building.67 The building was located on State Street between Ohio and Ontario Streets and had provided many of Chicago’s most talented artists with
studio space ever since it had first opened in 1894.68 The twenty year-old artist must have spent many hours painting in his studio, because by the end of the summer of 1909, he had sold enough portraits and landscape paintings to afford to buy a ticket for Europe in the Fall.69 On September 14, 1909, Ritman sailed for Europe. It was noted in the article announcing his departure that he was planning “to be absent four years.” The author of the newspaper clipping appears to have already recognized the young man’s impressive artistic talent, for the announcement concluded with the statement that “this future study will, no doubt, yield astonishing results.”70

Ritman arrived in Paris equipped with extraordinary talent, excellent training in the fundamentals of drawing and painting, an enormous amount of youthful energy and a strong resolve to make the most of the city’s educational opportunities. However, he was penniless, but he had the good fortune of soon being taken under the wing of Lawton Parker. Parker had been an enthusiastic supporter of Ritman’s work ever since he had awarded the young man the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts tuition scholarship in 1907.71 Several months before their meeting in Paris, Parker had told Ritman that “he had real talent, and that he ought to go to Paris.”72 Parker’s advice had most likely strengthened the young man’s resolve to travel there. Parker was so convinced Ritman would one day become “one of the great painters of the world” that he “again took him in hand.”73 He most likely advised him to settle in the Latin Quarter, where he would find affordable accommodations and the companionship of many other aspiring young American artists.74 The two artists then “kept closely in touch with one another.”75 At the time Ritman arrived in the French capitol, the Parisian art world was still in shock over the bold arbitrary colors and the simplified forms in the paintings of Henri Matisse and his followers. These pictures had been introduced to the public at the Paris Salon d’Automne of 1905. The paintings had caused so much commotion at the exhibit that one critic had named their artistic creators Les Fauves (a French term for wild beasts). Soon, Matisse and his disciples became known as Fauves; and the name Fauve also began to be used to refer to the group’s daring and colorful interpretations of their surroundings. When Ritman came to Paris in 1909, he was a skilled master of the handsome solidly rendered realistic forms of the academic style; and he continued to work in that style during his early years in France. At the time, he does not appear to have had any interest in introducing Fauve elements into his work. He also does not appear to have started experimenting with the bright colors and animated brushwork of Impressionism during his first year in Paris.76

In 1909, Impressionism was no longer regarded as a revolutionary artistic style. It was viewed as a type of realism, in which the artist was concerned with depicting objectively both the appearance of the forms and the sensation of the light and atmosphere in his surroundings. Although some European artists now considered Impressionism unfashionable, it was still the preferred artistic style of many of the more established French painters. In addition, it was the favorite artistic style of a considerable number of talented young Americans. Within a few years after his arrival in Paris, Ritman would become one of the most prominent members of that group of American artists who enjoyed working in the Impressionist style. After finding suitable lodging, Ritman began to prepare for the entrance examinations to the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where tuition was free. However, prospective students had to have already reached a high degree of technical proficiency before they would be admitted to the school. In addition, foreign students also had to pass an extremely difficult examination in the French language.77

While he was preparing to take the entrance examinations to the Ecole, Ritman enrolled in the popular Académie Julian with Tony Robert-Fleury.78 The Académie Julian was extremely popular with the foreign art students in Paris for a variety of attractive reasons. Its students were given a significant amount of freedom in their program of study; and they were not required to master the French language. The aspiring artists at the school were provided with live models and a place to set up their easels; and they were usually given a weekly critique of their work by celebrated professors from the faculty of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. However, because it was a private institution, students at the academy were required to pay a tuition fee.79 Despite his limited resources, Ritman appears to have earned sufficient funds to pay his tuition at the Académie Julian and his living expenses by selling “pot boilers.”80

At the beginning of January in 1910, Ritman exhibited a full-length portrait of a young woman in the Annual Exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute. The painting was a handsome realistic picture of an attractive young woman in a long white dress. The model was rendered with an academic plasticity of form and clarity of contour. The picture must have made a favorable impression on art critic Maude I. G. Oliver, for she chose it to illustrate her review in the Chicago Record-Herald.81 It was around this time Ritman was rooming with Norbert Leo Heermann (1891-1966), a fellow artist he apparently met in Chicago, because Heerman also studied at the Art Institute. Heermann entered the Académie Julian with Robert-Fleury as well.82 Ritman was then accepted into the atelier of Adolphe Déchenaud at the Ecole des Beaux-arts. Déchenaud was a distinguished professor who had recently been appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honor.83 During his first year in Paris, Ritman spent many evenings at the Café du Dome. It was there he was introduced to Frederick Frieseke by his good friend Lawton Parker.84 By this time, Parker and Frieseke had begun to work at Giverny; and had started to use the bright colors and animated brushwork of Impressionism to create joyful pictures of women relaxing in sunlit interiors or in gorgeous gardens bathed in brilliant sunshine. Their Giverny paintings were beginning to enjoy widespread admiration;85 and Ritman’s awareness of the popularity of these vibrant pictures must have contributed significantly to his decision to accept the invitation of his Midwestern colleagues to join them at Giverny. Their enthusiastic comments about the warm hospitality of the villagers and the beauty of the Giverny landscape most likely also encouraged him to visit there in the summer of 1910.86

In the spring of 191l, two Ritman paintings were accepted for the Paris Salon - Société des Artistes Français,87 held in the Grand Palais.88 Ritman must have been delighted to see his name included in the list of Americans mentioned in a review of the exhibition by H. Effa Webster in the Chicago Examiner. In her critique of the show, Webster praised Ritman, Parker, and several other American contributors to the Salon for the “vitality of expression and beauty of coloring” in “their magnificent pictures.”89 The next spring, Ritman once again had two pictures accepted for the Salon Société des Artistes Français.90 By early summer of that year 1912, he had returned to Giverny to paint.91 There he began to use the pure colors and animated brushstrokes of Impressionism to create attractive pictures of young women, with especial use of luxurious floral displays to surround his subjects.92 These canvases suggest the influence of Frieseke in their sunlit garden imagery and in their bold brushwork and bright colors. In a 1919 letter to his dealer Robert Macbeth, Frieseke mentioned Ritman had been “a sort of pupil” of his “for a number of years.” Frieseke stated he had helped Ritman all he could because “he seemed to have talent.”93

In the spring of 1913, Ritman again had two paintings accepted for the Salon Société des Artistes Français.94 He then returned to Giverny, where he spent the summer working in the studio of his good friend Lawton Parker.95 By early February of 1914, Ritman was back in Paris enjoying the companionship of the American colony of artists in the Latin Quarter. During the previous month, he had participated with six other American artists in the creation of a unique portrait of one of their colleagues, Walter Griffin (1861-1935). Ritman was given the honor of “swishing” the “first daub” upon the canvas. He worked for five minutes on Griffin’s picture, as did his six fellow artists. Within thirty-five minutes, they had produced a portrait recognized as a “likeness” by Griffin’s own relatives and friends. Shortly after it was painted, this unconventional display of Ritman’s talent was introduced to Chicagoans in an illustrated story about the Griffin portrait in the Chicago Daily News.96 Less than two weeks later, the Chicago art world was provided with a more substantial demonstration of the young man’s artistic ability. At that time, Ritman’s sunlit Tea in the Garden was being exhibited at the Art Institute and receiving considerable critical acclaim. In addition, a reproduction of the luminous canvas was published in the  the Chicago Record-Herald, together with a fascinating description of Ritman’s early years and an extremely optimistic assessment of the artist’s future prospects.97

In May 1914, Ritman’s acceptance of two works in the annual Salon Société des Artistes Français was touted in the Chicago Daily News. Chicagoans also learned of the growing popularity for his works, which were“attracting more and more attention in Paris.”98 It was also around this time that a writer for the Chicago American (most likely William Vernon, who was an ardent supporter of Lawton Parker) informed its readers that young Ritman was enjoying “the limelight of popular acclaim” in Paris.99 Later in the summer, Ritman returned again to Giverny to work in the studio of Lawton Parker.100 During that summer, he produced numerous sunlit paintings of young women in the nude or in fashionable attire.101 However, the young artist did not allow his fascination with painting sunlight to interfere with his academic concern for the depiction of three-dimensional form. In contrast, his Giverny neighbor Monet frequently permitted the light to de-materialize the forms in his pictures, because of his obsession with painting color and light. By August of that year, France was at war with Germany and a month later Ritman, like practically all the American artists in France at the time, fled for home. Ritman had forty canvases to ship back to Chicago.102 Having arrived in Paris six years earlier,103 with little money, a modest education, and only a small number of believers in his artistic genius, he now returned to Chicago with much acclaim following him. The privilege of working at Giverny with several prominent American Impressionists had significantly enhanced his reputation and he had become such an accomplished master of Impressionism he was now considered one of the most skilled members of The Giverny Group.104 As affirmation of his acceptance at home in Chicago, shortly after his return to the city the Municipal Art Commission chose his Hollyhocks, from more than three hundred paintings, as one of fourteen to enter the city of Chicago’s permanent art collection. This was the first year the commission made purchases and Ritman held the distinction that his was the first chosen from the group of fourteen.105

Late in December 1914, Ritman delighted Chicagoans with the forty canvases he had recently sent back from Europe. These “out-of-door studies, full of life and color and realism” were shown at the Pearson Street studio of his mentor, friend and supporter, Lawton Parker.106 The show opened to critical acclaim and critic Maude Oliver praised the “fresh, vivid impressionistic records,”107 later commenting the works were “full of sunlight and a buoyant youthfulness…” and she complimented Ritman on “his splendid sense of color” and his “thorough knowledge of technique.”108 Oliver suggested, “That [the works] should have a more central location is the verdict of all who have had the pleasure of viewing them.”109 She had also noted that one work was painted in the same studio where Lawton Parker had painted his now famous, La Paresse. Parker’s work and influence convinced the Art Institute to find time in their schedule to open an exhibit of the same canvases in February 1915, in conjunction 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.”110

On the evening of February 5, 1915, Ritman was one of the guests of honor at an Artist’s Dinner sponsored by the Press Club.111 The swell of acclaim led to his one man exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago which opened on February 23, 1915.112 The solo exhibit was an important distinction for such a young artist, now only twenty-six years old. The exhibit inspired several laudatory reviews. Chicago Tribune critic, Inez Travers (later Cunningham) complimented the pictures on their “blaze of color” and their “riot of bloom.” She especially admired Ritman’s pictures of the nude for their beauty and the delicacy of their technique.113 Lena McCauley flattered Ritman’s work in the Chicago Evening Post, suggesting he had surpassed the older American Impressionists in “sunspots, light rays playing between shadows,” and the “radiance of midday in the garden.”114 The author of an article in the Chicago Israelite praised “the floods of sunshine” in the pictures and declared they were a delightful “ antidote to the dismal weather of the city outside.”115 Despite this acceptance of Ritman by the Art Institute, trouble was brewing among the artists and Ritman became embroiled in the battle. Just after his exhibit closed on March 9, Ritman was one of several prominent Chicago artists who signed a terse letter to the Trustees of the Art Institute. In the letter, the artists demanded the right to elect the jurors who awarded prizes at the annual exhibition of Chicago artists. Ritman and his colleagues were upset because a committee of women from the Municipal Art League selected the jurors for this show. The artists felt the existing method was “undignified, unjust and indeed farcical” because the women lacked the necessary qualifications to appreciate excellence in art.116 In an attempt to explain the artists’ actions, Wellington J. Reynolds, Ritman’s former teacher, stated “Chicago is the laughing stock of the serious painters so far as its critical standards are concerned.” He described the women in the Municipal Art League as “nice women, fine women” but “these women aren’t artists. They don’t know art”. They “make good and beautiful compositions sitting around thus and drinking tea, but they make terrible critics.” Reynolds then used the women’s disregard for the pictures of the talented Ritman as a demonstration of their inability to recognize excellence in art. Although the young artist had already “won important awards” in Paris and Berlin, the club women had refused to consider his paintings worthy of a prize in a recent competition at the Art Institute.117 In the same article Lawton Parker stated that Chicago needed “a real jury” to judge the efforts of the city’s artists, if the city wished “to be seriously considered in the country as a center for something other than cattle killing.” He concluded his remarks with the hope that “this agitation will result in the selection of a comprehensive jury of fifty or more artists who will be invested with the guillotine authority now in the hands of a group of shoppers.”118 The Chicago club women were very unhappy about relinquishing their role in the selection of the recipients of the awards for which they had supplied the purchase money.119 Nevertheless, in early April, the Trustees of the Art Institute voted in favor of the artists’ request and prize granting juries became composed entirely of artists.120

It turned out 1915 was somewhat of a watershed year for Ritman’s career. In March he was chosen winner of the $100 Fine Arts Building prize by a jury selected from the members of the Artists’ Guild.121 In April, a group of Ritman’s Giverny canvases were exhibited at the John Herron Art Institute (later the Indianapolis Museum of Art). His sunlit canvases were praised in the Indianapolis News and it was also noted that his paintings had attracted the attention of William Merritt Chase during that celebrated artist’s recent visit to the museum.122 In the late Spring of 1915, Ritman won a Silver Medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.123 Despite the success he was enjoying in America, Ritman returned to war torn France in the late spring of 1915. By summer, he was painting with Frieseke at Giverny.124 Despite the many hardships caused by the war, Ritman spent much of his time in Giverny during the next three years painting light filled canvases of women at leisure. His splendid picture entitled Quiet Afternoon (Phoenix Art Museum), which dates from 1915,125 provides us with a handsome illustration of his distinctive interpretation of Impressionism at this time. In the painting, the artist skillfully employed broad brushstrokes of bright color and a variety of paint textures to create a serene depiction of two women sitting in a garden on a summer day. At the same time, he transformed observed reality into a decorative tapestry of luminous colors and attractive shapes. The picture glows with sunlight. Unlike Monet, however, the artist did not permit his concern with decorative patterns of light and color to overwhelm his respect for the integrity of his forms.

During the next year, Ritman experimented with several paintings at Giverny in which he allowed his fascination with light and color to blur a form which previously he would have rendered with a greater realism and solidity. In pictures such as his luminous Girl in a Garden, which dates from around 1916,126 the female figure almost disappears into a vibrantly colored decorative mosaic of animated brushstrokes of different textures and shapes. By 1918, Ritman had learned how to preserve the distinctive appearance of his subjects while simultaneously creating a glorious mosaic of bold brushstrokes and glowing colors. His stunning Woman Before Mirror from 1918 (New Britain Museum of American Art), provides us with an outstanding illustration of this phase in his artistic development.127 In the painting, he has created a realistic depiction of an attractively dressed young woman seated in front of a large mirror in a well-lit, boldly colored furnished room. At the same time, he has transformed his female subject and her light-filled surroundings into a handsome elegant surface pattern of bright colors and varied brushwork.

In 1919, Ritman was elected to the Nationale Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris.128 Sometime in 1919 or 1920, Ritman returned to the United States and took a studio in New York.129 In March 1919, the William Macbeth Gallery organized a traveling exhibition of twenty of his paintings. The exhibit started in New York and then movedto Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The show received rave reviews. One critic commented that Ritman was “a painter to be reckoned with” because of the “remarkable” “vigor and feeling” in his “delicate, high-keyed decorative” paintings.130 In his critique of the show, C. H. Waterman stated the canvases reveal Ritman "as a painter’s painter, brilliant in brushwork, a master of nuances of texture, an exquisite weaver of patterns.” Waterman appears to have especially admired the beautiful way in which Ritman translated the shapes of his subjects into paint, “without the loss of their character as form” He was also impressed by the artist's talent for animating his canvases with a light that is “soft and caressing… playful and capricious… intense and passionate.” Waterman concluded with the prediction that “if Ritman fulfills the promise of these canvases, he will be the Vermeer of the Impressionist School.”131

During the next ten years, Ritman split most of his time between Giverny and Paris.132 However, he visited New York and Chicago several times; his paintings were often displayed in American galleries and museums; and his works abroad were covered by the press in New York. For example, in April 1921, Ritman was represented in the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts Salon by three pictures, which were mentioned in a review of that show in the New York Times.133 In 1922, he won the third Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design in New York.134 In March 1923, “a couple of (his) portraits of women” were included in New York at the annual exhibit of the National Academy of Design.135 One month later, he returned to Chicago for a visit. His arrival in the city was reported in the local press, as were his laudatory comments about the Art Institute collections.136 During his stay in Chicago, he painted portraits and arranged for a one-man exhibit of his work, that was scheduled to open at the Art Institute in December. In addition, he taught a class at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts on Sundays in the late autumn of 1923. In the announcement of the class in the Chicago Herald Examiner, Ritman was referred to as “one of the best known and most successful American artists resident in Paris”.137 By September of 1923, Ritman was being represented by the Milch Galleries of New York City. At that time, Milch loaned fifteen of his paintings to a show at The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. His light-filled Impressionist canvases shared the exhibition space with thirty-six modern paintings by the Canadian Group of Seven and twenty-five colorful pictures of Russian and Chinese subjects by the Russian-American painter Leon Gaspard.138 In December 1923, a selection of his paintings were displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago in the big “gallery of honor at the series of ‘one man’ exhibitions.” (It is probable the exhibit was organized by his dealer, Milch Galleries of New York).139 The show was admired by many of Chicago’s art critics. Lena M. McCauley of the Chicago Evening Post praised the pictures for their attractive compositions, accomplished brushwork, convincing sensation of sunlight, and their “shimmering atmospheres.”140 Critic Ernest L. Heitkamp of the Chicago Herald and Examiner, complimented the artist on the lovely colors in his work and his “intensely interesting…use of color juxtaposition to enforce light.”141 The delicacy of Ritman’s technique and the skillful poses of his models were applauded by Chicago Tribune critic Eleanor Jewett. She viewed Ritman’s “cheerful and charming” pictures of “young girls in sunny orchards… as rather a relief after some of the monstrosities offered by Matisse and others of such caliber.”142

After the Ritman show closed at the Art Institute, the pictures were sent to Des Moines, Iowa for an exhibit in the city library. The Des Moines Association of Fine Arts hosted the exhibition, which began on February 24,1924, and continued for three weeks. Ritman traveled to Des Moines to attend the opening. During his visit, he was honored at several events and his pictures were praised by a local critic.143 In addition, “the Des Moines Museum purchased two of his most important paintings for permanent exhibition.”144 The collection of Ritman’s outdoor figure paintings arrived at the Milch Galleries in New York for an opening on April 7. In her review of the exhibit, Lula Merrick described Ritman as “an impressionist, but one who adheres to the beauties of form and who is inherently a colorist.” She called his pictures “livable(sic) and lovable,” and she complimented them for their “great depth of quality without any attempt to suggest mere prettiness.145 Sometime in mid-April or shortly after, Ritman returned to France.146

During the next five years, Ritman’s work was featured in several New York exhibitions. In 1925, the artist was given an exhibit at the Macbeth Gallery in New York.147 The following year, his double portrait entitled Enchantment was included the annual show at the National Academy of Design in New York. The picture was used to illustrate a review of the exhibition in the Sunday edition of the New York Herald Tribune. The author of the review praised the painting for its “interesting drawing and color.”148 In March of 1929, the Milch Galleries again hosted a display of Ritman’s paintings at their exhibition rooms on 57th street in New York.149 All of the pictures were painted in France during the previous three years. The majority of the works were “studies of figures in interiors” and the paintings demonstrated the artist’s “absorption in color” had “gradually changed to one in form.”150 The Art Digest ran an interesting commentary noting:


“All the critics who wrote of Louis Ritman at the Milch Galleries all mentioned Frieseke. The Brooklyn Eagle: ‘Louis Ritman is one of the few painters turned out by the Miller-Frieseke School who has not grown stale and superficial. He can continue to paint ladies in plaid dresses, out-Miller Miller in the virtuosity with which he paints the plaids and yet paint a serious and charming portrait.’ ”151

In a brief review of the show, a critic for the New York Times noted Ritman had “evolved from a pleasant modified impressionism suggestive of Frieseke, to the use of stronger color and more lively brushwork.”152 The New York Herald critic commented on the “touch of modernity in his broad defining of forms.”153 In an article in the Boston Sunday Herald, Frank E. Washburn Freund described the paintings at the Milch Galleries as “most attractive canvases filled with glowing colors in very individual patterns and combinations of shades and with splendidly modeled figures,” and admired the “great but not undue emphasis… laid on line and form.”154 The Dallas Morning News reprinted Dr. Freund’s favorable review in its Sunday edition on March 24, 1929,155 and a shortened version of his criticism was published three days later in the Chicago Daily News.156

After over a decade away from Chicago, and with the world in a deepening economic depression, Ritman was persuaded by the Director of the Art Institute of Chicago to leave of his Paris studio and join the teaching staff of the Institute.157 Practically no attention has been paid to this important and successful period in the artist’s career which would span another thirty years. This latter time period was marked by continued exhibition prizes, numerous successful one man exhibitions and critical acclaim in both New York and Chicago. Hence, in the autumn of 1930 Ritman returned from Paris to teach the Advanced Painting class at the School of the Art Institute. In November, his painting Jullien (Butler Institute of American Art) was awarded the $1,500 Second Logan prize at the 43rd annual exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute.158 Jullien also received the William R. French Memorial Gold Medal, which was awarded every year by a special committee appointed by the Alumni Association to a student or former student of the school.159 In the New York Herald Tribune, the highly respected critic Royal Cortissoz included an illustration of Jullien;160 and singled out the picture for special mention because of its decorative design.161

While teaching in Chicago, Ritman continued to paint and exhibit.162 In his later years, he created many realistic pictures of women, some still life paintings, and an abundance of landscapes. In these later pictures, he replaced the bright colors, light-filled atmosphere, small lively brushstrokes, and cheerful temperament of Impressionism with strong colors, solidly rendered forms, bold brushwork, and a somberness of mood.163 During the three decades following his return from Paris to Chicago in 1930, Ritman participated in numerous group exhibitions in Chicago and in other American cities. He frequently displayed his work in the American Annuals and the Chicago & Vicinity shows at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1933 and 1934, his work was selected for the group exhibit as part of the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago. On several occasions, he showed his work at the Carnegie Institute Annuals in Pittsburgh.

Many of Ritman’s later landscape paintings were inspired by “the beautiful countryside and farmlands of southwest Michigan,” where he “spent many summers in a favorite little cottage on the property of friends.164 Don Anderson, an art critic whose family had a farm near the cottage, visited him there several times. In his review in the Chicago Sunday American of a Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by Louis Ritman, Anderson described the artist as “a man of few words” (who) “always had a merry twinkle in his eye that could not be disguised, even when he tried to be gruff or stern.” He also noted that Ritman “was devoted to being out of doors” and delighted in “painting the vigor and green growth of the scenes around him.”165 In March 1933, one of Ritman’s still life paintings were included in a show of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century watercolors at Milch Galleries. His work shared exhibition space with watercolors by such celebrated American masters of watercolor as Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and Ritman’s watercolor was the only painting used to illustrate a brief review of the show in the Sunday New York Times.166 Success continued to follow Ritman throughout the decade of the 1930s. He was awarded various prizes at the annual Chicago and Vicinity shows at the Art Institute including the Harry A. Frank prize for figure composition in 1932,167. In 1938 the Robert Rice Jenkins prize was given to his brother Maurice.168 The Mr. & Mrs. Jule F. Brower Prize prize was given to Louis in 1939.169

The 1940s opened with hometown awards such as an honorable mention at the American annual at the Art Institute followed by the prestigious Martin B. Cahn prize in at the American annual in 1941,170 and the Renaissance Society Prize at the Chicago and Vicinity exhibit in 1942.171 In May and June 1941, work by Ritman was included in a show of paintings by fifteen contemporary American artists at Milch Galleries. Ritman’s painting entitled Girl in White Dress was the only work chosen to illustrate a review of the exhibit in the New York Times. In addition, the painting was praised in the review of the show for its “outstanding excellence.”172 In 1943, he was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design and eight years later was made a full Academician of that institution.173 In late January 1945, Milch hosted a one-man exhibit of Ritman’s paintings. The show contained “a score of vigorous oils, divided between solidly modeled figure pieces and vigorous landscapes.” These oil paintings were augmented by “a group of fluent and forthright watercolors.”174 In her review in the Art Digest, Margaret Breuning complimented Ritman on “his admirable brushwork and surety of touch.” She also admired his ability to “build up form with fluent rhythms” and endow his figures “with an easy unposed grace.”175

Six years later, Ritman was given his last one-man show at Milch Galleries.176 In a report on the exhibit, the Art Digest praised the artist for his “matured powers in his handling of form and effective arrangements.” The nudes were judged “the high points of the showing.” Additionally, the author of the review admired Ritman’s “fecundity of invention” in his still life paintings and his “sensitive appreciation of the essentials” in his Michigan landscapes.177 The show also inspired favorable comments in an article in the New York Times which applauded the artist for the way in which “Expressionism and Impressionism meet in his style which, with its sober color, achieves a sense of earnestness and reality.”178 That year his painting Alvera, was awarded the Isaac N. Maynard Prize at the National Academy of Design.

Throughout his years of teaching at the Art Institute, Ritman maintained a Paris studio and he returned there frequently during the summer. In 1959, he retired from teaching,179 and on July 14 of that year, he married Marguerite Steffenson. At age seventy, it was his first marriage. From 1931 to 1941, his bride had been the Assistant Dean of the Art Institute School.180 After his retirement from teaching, Ritman moved from Chicago to Winona, Minnesota. From February 4 to February 28, 1963, he presented a one-man show in the Bell Art Room at the Winona Public Library. The exhibition included a broad selection of landscape, still life and figure paintings and several charcoal line drawings. The Winona Sunday News complimented Ritman for his “poetic power and technical skill.”181

On November 25, 1963, Louis Ritman passed away at the age of seventy-four. Less than two years after his death a memorial show of seventy-one paintings was held in Chicago at the Ontario East Gallery from early April through May 10, 1965. The exhibit was given favorable reviews in several Chicago newspapers.182 Critic Don J. Anderson admired the “direct and knowing manner” in which Ritman applied paint in his canvases.183 Harold Haydon, art critic for the Chicago Sun Times, also applauded Ritman’s accomplished painting technique. In addition, he praised the artist’s ability to model form “in clearly expressed three -dimensional space.”184 In his will, Ritman named his wife Marguerite and his brother Maurice as co-administrators for his estate. In 1973, Marguerite and Maurice gave paintings by Louis to several major American museums. They made a gift of his picture entitled Enchantment to the Museum of Art of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.185 The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio also received a significant gift, the prize winning painting Jullien.186 The Indianapolis Museum of Art was another beneficiary of their generosity in 1973 as Maurice and Marguerite gave donated Sunlit Window.187


During the 1970’s, several exhibits of Ritman’s work were held in the Midwest. In 1970, the Covenant Club, a Jewish affiliate of B’nai B’rith in Chicago, hosted a retrospective show from February 27 to April 10.188 A Ritman painting in the collection of the Oshkosh, Wisconsin Public Museum inspired officials to display forty paintings by Louis Ritman at the Oshkosh museum in October 1974. The exhibit was praised in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern for its demonstration of the evolution of the artist’s style “from impressionism with its dependence upon light and color, to the linear, more substantial form which presaged the final substantive expressionism…of his later years.”189 In 1975, Richard Love presented a retrospective exhibit at Signature Galleries in Chicago. The show contained early works created during Ritman’s residence in Giverny and works produced in the three decades after his return to America.190 In his review, Chicago Daily News critic Franz Schulze stated that the exhibit disclosed “an authentic talent anchored in solid formal skills” and praised Ritman’s “free but sure brush” and his “gift for singing color.”191 Twelve years later, Richard Love once again featured the paintings of Louis Ritman in a show at his gallery. However, this time he displayed only the sun-filled Impressionist canvases painted by the artist in Giverny, from “approximately 1912 to 1922.” John Cain, of the Lake County Star Register, praised the “luminescent” Impressionist paintings in the Ritman show at the R. H. Love Galleries for their beauty and elegance.192

In 1989, Richard Love published a well-illustrated detailed account of Ritman’s early life, his educational experiences and his years in Giverny. Entitled Louis Ritman from Chicago to Giverny, the book describes Ritman’s gradual evolution from a skilled practitioner of the academic style to an accomplished master of Impressionism.193 Unfortunately, Mr. Love ended his text in Ritman’s mid-career, around 1925.194 At the present time, paintings by Ritman may be found in the permanent collections of many prestigious American museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Academy of Design in New York, and National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. His work may also be found in the permanent collections of a large number of America’s smaller museums.195 During the last decade, Ritman’s paintings have also become prized possessions of several private collectors, who have paid very high prices to acquire his work.196 Louis Ritman is regarded today as one of the most gifted and capable members of the second generation of American Impressionists who worked in Giverny. He is also remembered as one of the best qualified and most dedicated instructors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His achievement of such an eminent position in the world of American art is a remarkable accomplishment for an individual who was born to Jewish parents of very modest means in Kamenets-Podolski, Russia in 1889.


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