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William Samuel Schwartz (1896-1977)
William Samuel Schwartz - "Making a Lithograph"
Willaim Samuel Schwartz, Anthony and Myself, courtesy of Richard Angarola.jpg

By Constance Poore and Joel S. Dryer © Illinois Historical Art Project


On February 23, 1896, the year of the worst of the Smorgon’ tannery labor strikes,[1] the operatic[2] tenor, Volodja Czerny-Schwartz,[3] the youngest child[4] of Samuel and Taube[5] was born in Smorgon’.[6] Volodja Czerny-Schwartz,[7] known more generally as William Samuel Schwartz, said of his birthplace,


“But it is hard to tell exactly what I was born. Where, yes. In Lithuania. But the country changed hands so often, between the Poles, the Russians and sometimes even the Germans, that I don’t know whose flag was flying at the time I came into the world.”[8]


William Samuel Schwartz, musician,[9] as well as artist from his earliest years, formally began to study art at the age of six at the Smorgon’ Academy, absorbing art there until he had learned all he could in that school and his allotted time there was completed.[10] After passing rigorous entry tests, this precocious art student received a four-year scholarship to the Vilna, then Poland, Art School from 1908 to 1912.[11] Another source indicated that he entered the Vilna school at age ten and a half (1906).[12] Regardless, he was a child among the more mature. Schwartz later named Ivan Trutnev as one of his outstanding teachers.[13] In the Vilna school, Schwartz met fellow pupil Chaim Soutine, (1894-1943,) who graduated in 1911 and shortly after left for Paris where he lived until his death.[14]


After the end of his allotted years at the Vilna Art School, Schwartz sought further training. He was unable to go to Petrograd for however due to anti-Semitic conditions there. Due to the cost, study in Paris was impossible.[15] At a later date, however, William would be able to continue and complete his art studies thanks in large part to family members, who had previously fled their troubled homeland.[16]


Life under the czar had become increasingly unpleasant and difficult, to the point that William’s eldest brother, Max, emigrated to the United States, arriving to live briefly in New York, which he found too lonely. At some point, he had made acquaintance with some people in Omaha, Nebraska, and decided to move there. In Omaha, he became a businessman, owner of a small clothing store.[17] Max managed to save enough money to bring William over to New York in 1913,[18] allowing the artist to escape Smorgon’ before its 1915 pogrom.[19] In New York, William stayed with a sister for about eight months.[20] He too found New York lonely.[21] Although he did not like living in New York, it made a profound impact upon him.


“…my first impression of America… in one word, was POWER. The sheer physical bulk of New York engulfed me. The drive and clamor of the city echoed in my ears. What size was here! …On every side, what pace, what power! …I have never out grown that first impression registered more than 40 years ago.”[22]


In understanding of William’s discomfort with New York, Max sent his youngest sibling money for train fare to Omaha.[23]


“So I got to Omaha, and my brother said I must get a job. This was hard as I didn’t speak anything but French, German and Russian. So my brother got me a job as a painter. Good, good, I said, that is what I came over here to do. So I get up early and get my palette and brushes and I go to the place where my brother says. Only the painting job, you know what it was—painting a 16 story building. Zut, I said to myself. But pretty soon another fellow and I were on the scaffold and were getting pulled up to the sky. I had a big brush that weighed a pound and a half.”[24]


To help pay his room and board, William also worked as a newsboy, selling the Omaha World Herald, which ever after claimed the famous artist as one of its own. In order to catch up academically with other youths his age, he went to the Kellom School in Omaha,[25] taking both day and night classes.[26] As an adult, he was to become a voracious reader, collecting hundreds of books in all disciplines, forming


“…a personal library which was a catholic collection reflecting the taste of a man who reads five languages and which ranges thru novels, poetry, drama, and art, to philosofy, [sic] history, and biografy [sic].”[27]


Along with academic classes, Schwartz continued his artistic studies. At night he studied life drawing, portraiture and painting with Omaha artist, John Laurie Wallace (1864-1953).[28] Once again Schwartz completed what he felt was all the schooling that would benefit him. Not wishing to join Max in the clothing business, or to become a professional building painter, William felt the compulsion to move on again for further art training. The nearest school of size and reputation was the Art Institute of Chicago. Through his own talents as well as the recommendation of the rabbi and a few other prominent Jewish Omahans, William S. Schwartz was awarded a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he began his course of study, as a day student, on September 5, 1915.[29]


While at the Art Institute, Schwartz’ chosen primary teacher was Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952),[30] who was his instructor from 1915 through graduation in 1918. From the first semester, Schwartz won class honorable mention awards, thirteen in the 1915-1916 year.[31] During the 1916-1917 term, his most prolific in terms of prizes, he won forty-five Honorable Mentions an Class Honorable Mention “for excellence in the Department of Painting (general excellence by the faculty).”[32] His work and that of classmate Archibald Motley (1891-1981) were singled out in a review of the annual student exhibition.[33] In his last year, 1917-1918, he won twenty-five Honorable Mentions, and again was awarded the Class Honorable Mention in Portrait-Oil.[34]


Schwartz’ graphic abilities apparently were excellent. In his early student years at the Art Institute, Schwartz, who then painted in a traditional manner, “…could paint a nude with all the surface smoothness of a Bougereau....”[35] Notwithstanding his graphic ability and probably influenced to experimentation by then-graduated friend and painting companion Anthony Angarola, (1893-1929); in his third scholastic year, Schwartz began to break publicly from the strict academic tradition and painted a large nude in blue and green, telling the horrified Buehr that the “…composition demanded blue and green.” Buehr was apparently more liberal than the ordinary Art Institute educator and allowed him to do this non-traditional piece, perhaps recognizing that Schwartz knew what he was doing and could make a success of such a unique painting.[36] “Schwartz had never seen a Picasso when he painted his blue-green nude. He simply wanted to be himself.”[37]


His scholarship covered tuition only. In order to cover the expenses of living and art supplies, Schwartz had to find work. He was able to live on five to six dollars per week,[38] which he partly earned as a bus boy at the Art Institute of Chicago cafeteria, which also allowed him food.[39] During this time he also sang as a principal tenor for vaudeville, radio, concert, and operatic productions. He could have pursued a singing career, but from the start he saw it only as a means to support his art.[40] This increasingly successful musical career led to “A chance to make a thousand dollars by leaving Chicago on a concert tour.” He declined the offer, preferring to remain in Chicago as a painter.[41] Years later, Schwartz discussed his loves of music and art:


“Music…was my second language. Music was also my introduction to many Americans of Italian and Bohemian origins. It was, in addition, my introduction to small towns, and slow trains, and the exciting feel of audiences the country over. But music was my second language only. My first career was, and remains, painting.”[42]


Another factor in Schwartz’ departure from his musical profession was, particularly in Chicago, the advent of jazz, which caused the theaters to want “…jazz singers, not real musical talent. I gave it up.”[43] While attending to the realities of furnishing a physical livelihood, Schwartz, the student, also painted furiously, leading long-time friend Ivan L. Albright to reminisce:


“It isn’t because I was an old Art Institute schoolmate of his. I don’t remember him there, except that he wore the longest hair and the most paint-stiffened smock in the place.”[44]


William Schwartz, who preferred to be called Billy,[45] was handsome as a youth and as a man, as evidenced by photographs of him from 1912 forward. From the comments of others, one learns that:


“Bill is an artist who looks like an artist. His hair is long, black and curly. He wears a musketeer’s mustachio and still retains the ringing basso profundo of his old operatic days.”[46] “Schwartz grins easily. He is a short man, not over the five-foot mark. He has a shock of unruly black hair now starting to show some grey, lively brown eyes and a mustache with turned-up waxed ends.”[47]


He seemed not to allow the facade, which he presented to his friends and interviewers, to show any inner turmoil. Rather, he exhibited this in those of his paintings titled as self-portraits, in which he usually portrayed himself with a wildly unruly, curly hairstyle, framing a contorted face. Often, in the 1930’s, he used himself as the face for a figure in a painting, and these figures also were anguished.[48]


Many of his earliest paintings, including In Violet,[49] were destroyed by Schwartz. In addition to In Violet, these included: The Prophet of Doom (1919); The Wandering Jew (1921); Omen (1921); Self-Portrait (1921) and The Pathos of Distance (1922). Considering the titles of these works, one wonders if Schwartz destroyed them because of unpleasant associations they recalled from his past.[50]


One year after graduation, In Violet, (1918, since destroyed,) was included in the Art Institute’s 1919 Twenty-Second Annual Exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. His consistent inclusion in this yearly juried exhibition may have culminated in his first one-man show at the Institute in 1926.[51] Possibly this event was precipitated by an award at the exhibition of Jewish artists in Detroit, housed in the monumental Temple Beth El building designed by architect Albert Kahn, replete with eight imposing Corinthian columns, under the auspices of the Jewish Institute. He won the Albert Kahn first prize.[52] At the same exhibit in 1926 he won the award of the Detroit Temple Beth El Sisterhood First Prize for the painting The Emancipator, (1925, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 feet, formerly collection M. Landfield of Chicago, current location unknown.) [53] The Art Institute of Chicago one-man show was a major accomplishment for a painter only thirty years old.[54]

Throughout his career, Schwartz had regular one-man exhibitions, too numerable to list. Institutions where his work was featured included art museums in Milwaukee, Denver, Kansas City, Davenport, Houston, Dallas, Flint, Toledo, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and multiple university museums and galleries. The Illinois Historical Art Project has compiled a list of some seventy one-man exhibitions.[55]


In 1927 he won his first of many prizes at the Art Institute annual exhibition of Chicago and vicinity artists. The Marshall Fuller Holmes Prize was given to a Chicago resident for excellence in color and composition and carried an award of one hundred dollars. It was awarded for his work Friendly Enemies (Chicago Public School collection) one of five juried into the show and illustrated in Art Digest. The painting was purchased by the Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art for placement in the public schools of Chicago.[56] This was followed next year with the M. V. Kohnstamm Prize at the more prestigious American annual at the Art Institute for his Talmudists (location unknown), again illustrated in the press.[57] When the Art Institute organized an Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, the painting traveled to the National Gallery of Canada (1929).[58] In 1930 he won the Mrs. John C. Shafer Prize;[59] and in 1936, the Clyde M. Carr landscape prize.[60] Several lesser prizes included: Third Prize, Chicago Jewish Artists, College of Jewish Studies, 1931; [61] Federal competition, mural for Fairfield, Illinois Post Office, 1935; Honorable Mention, Scarab Club, Detroit, International Exhibition of Oil Paintings, 1936; Prize, Jewish Artists of Chicago & Vicinity, Covenant Club, Chicago, 1936; First Purchase Prize, Monticello College, Godfrey, Illinois;[62] Honorable Mention, National Lithography annual, Oklahoma Art Center, 1939; Prize, Jewish Artists of Chicago & Vicinity, Covenant Club, Chicago, 1941; First Prize, National Lithography annual, Oklahoma Art Center, 1942, and Honorable Mention, Corpus Christi Art Foundation, 1945. Late in his career he was awarded some significant prices such as the Mr. and Mrs. Jules F. Brower prize at the Art Institute in 1945,[63] and, in 1952, the Municipal Art league Prize at the Art Institute.[64]


In 1929, Schwartz painted the powerful and frightening, Yosel, the Golum, (1929, oil on canvas, 36 x 40 inches, location unknown).[65] In painting this Russian boogeyman, was Schwartz finally exorcising the demons of his Russian childhood or ultimately painting away his personal fears by giving them flesh in this brute? While Schwartz may have painted away some of his incubi, it also took close human interaction to tranquilize any remaining monsters.


[1]Volta Torrey, “Great Modernistic Painter Once Sold Newspapers Here,” Omaha Sunday World Herald—Magazine Section, 8/3/1930. (the article appears to be the lead piece of the section). Archives of American Art, William Samuel Schwartz records (hereinafter AAA Schwartz), Reel D59, frame 0468. Torrey indicated that Smorgon’ also known as “Smarhon’” was a tannery city that had a population of about 35,000 at Schwartz’ birth (today’s population is just over 36,000 [2010 census], which is unlikely, see below). Ron Arons, translator from Yiddish “History of Smorgon’ and Surrounding Communities,” Smorgon’ Yizkor Book, p.20, from 20 page chapter entitled “Introductory History,” location on Internet web site, accessed 1/1/2015 “...these terrible conditions were the impetus for the workers to go to war. In 1896, there were twenty-five strikes in the factories and five in the workshops.”

[2]Douglas Dreishpoon, The Paintings, Drawings, and Lithographs of William S. Schwartz, (New York City: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., 11/24-12/29/1984), p.16. Schwartz’s operatic performances and recitals were favorably reviewed as early as 1917 (in the Chicago Evening Post) and continued to be reviewed until 1929, when he discontinued public appearances.

[3]AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0284, piece of newspaper clipping, one of several placed on this scrapbook page without further source information, “William S. Schwartz, the talented young tenor from the studio of Karl Buren Stein...”, in Chicago, by implication. F. H. G., “ ‘Prodana Nevesta’ V Divadle Studebaker,” Chicago Daily Spravedlnost, 3/20/1923, n. p. The article is a review of a Studebaker Theatre performance of the Bedrich Smetana Singing Society’s performance of the Bartered Bride [“Prodana Nevesta”] with principal tenor William Samuel Schwartz listed by his Russian name Volodja Czerny-Schwartz. The article is accompanied by a typed English translation, translator unknown. AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0276.

[4]AAA Schwartz reel D59, frames 0135-233 contain photographs of William’s family, many apparently taken just prior to his emigration to America in 1913. These photos contain formal portraits of his father, Samuel, dated 1902, mother, Taube, dated 1910 and undated snapshots of siblings, Max, Jack, Louis and Doris. Samuel must have remained in Russia, as he is never further mentioned.

[5]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930. Smorgon was destined to be wiped out in a few years by the artillery of Russians on the east and Germans on the west.

[6]The town was once in Poland, then Lithuania, now in Belarus. It had a very large Jewish population.

[7]Fran Coughlin, “Artist Gets Eye-full in Chicago,” The Paper, a Chicago Weekly, Vol. 1, #7, 7/23/1960, (it appears to be the front page, unnumbered otherwise), AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0785. Czerny and Cerny can be read as synonymous.

[8]AAA Schwartz Reel D59, image 0756. [the image relates to a Chicago Tribune article, but appears to be misattributed].

[9]Op. cit., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, image 0756. “It is natural for him to work in musical terms, because painting and music have been interwoven through the fibers of his life ever since he was 5.”

[10]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, 1984, p.5.

[11]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, 1984, p.5.

[12]John H. Thompson, “Artist’s Wife Does Cooking in Art Gallery—Husband’s Works are Culinary Inspiration,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, 9/11/1949, Part 3, P.6N, AAA Schwartz reel D59, frame 0722.

[13]J. Z. Jacobson, Art of Today Chicago—1933, (Chicago: L. M. Stein, 1932), p.151.

[14]K. Zoromskis, “Famous Persons From Lithuania, Life and Creations of Soutine and Schwartz,” Daily Draugus, Chicago, Illinois, 1/10/1953, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0744, typescript English translation, verified as accurate by Zoromskis on 3/10/1953. No translator listed. Note the linkage of Schwartz and Soutine in this article, an event that will be discussed further on.

[15]Manuel Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, (Chicago: L. M. Stein, 1930), p.35.

[16]We only have information about Max escaping, [Torrey,] but it seems likely that all the siblings, except William, emigrated prior to 1913, since we later find Jack and Louis in Los Angeles. AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frames 0132-0233. A 1928 snapshot shows William, Mona Turner, Louis, Jack, and their wives in Los Angeles. The sister with whom William stayed in New York must have been Doris.

[17]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[18]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[19]Op. cit., Arons, Smorgon’ Yizkor Book

“Section 4. Smorgon’ in its ruins and partial rehabilitation,” In 1915, all Jews in Smorgon’ were killed or deported by the Cossacks, and their houses and property destroyed.

“Section 5, Monetary Report -‘Yikofu,’ [author’s note—assistance committees.]” Relief Smorgon’, [author’s note—a New York based group composed mostly of Smorgonian refugees in the United States,] gave about $8,000 for rebuilding. During 1922, 748 Jewish people had returned. In October 1922, teenagers between 14-18 who wanted to study art in Smorgon’, stood at 56 boys and 57 girls. [author’s note—it is interesting to observe that it was felt to be important in this Yizkor to mention those desiring art lessons.]

“General Assistance,” Smorgon’ was ruined to its foundations during the Holocaust and World War II.

[20]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.35.

[21]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[22]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings… p.5. Primary source, William Samuel Schwartz, “An Artist’s Love Affair With America,” Chicago Tribune Magazine, 4/5/1970, pp.64-65.

[23]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[24]Josephine Patterson Albright, (Mrs. Ivan Albright,) “Life With Junior” column, Newsday, 1/4/1950, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0729.

[25]Originally The Paul Street School, erected in 1892, and later renamed the Kellom School it was the nearby school, a place for Schwartz to get an academic education.

[26]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[27]Op. cit., Thompson, Chicago Sunday Tribune, 1949, Part 3, p.6N.

[28]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, pp. 6, 16. J. Laurie Wallace (1864-1953) had been a pupil of Thomas Eakins’ at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, before moving to Chicago. When the Omaha Art School (Omaha Academy of Fine Art) was founded in 1891, under the auspices of the Western Art Association, Wallace moved from Chicago to Omaha to serve as its director and distinguished teacher. He also ran his own private atelier, and when financial difficulties caused the dissolution of the Western Art Association and closed the Omaha Art School, Wallace remained in Omaha and taught classes until his death.

[29]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Schwartz transcript photocopy, his registration card indicates a Chicago address with his home address listed in Omaha, Russia as place of birth and, inexplicably, Feb. 28, 1895 as date of birth.

[30]Dennis Barrie, interviewer, “Oral History Interview with Archibald Motley,” 1/23/1978, p.4, Archives of American Art. “Carl [sic] Buehr, my instructor in portrait painting--you know they used to have what they called the concours, that would be each month when they marked the paintings. After the marking of the painting Buehr always had his entire class, regardless of who you were, if you were in his class you were invited to his home where he’d have a nice dinner for you and sort of a party every month. He was just that type of person.” On page five, Motley called Schwartz, “one of my best friends in the painting class.”

[31]For a discussion of this system, see Joel S .Dryer’s essay on Lawton S. Parker. Illinois Historical Art Project (IHAP) William Samuel Schwartz timeline. Op. cit., SAIC transcript.

[32]AAA Schwartz reel D59, frame 0235, copy of award issued. “HONORS: Prize Winners and Distinguished Students of Art Institute,” Chicago Tribune, 6/16/1917, p.15.

[33]Louise James Bargelt, “ART: Meritorious Work Shown in Annual Students’ Exhibit,” Chicago Tribune, 6/17/1917, part 7, p.3.

[34]Op. cit., IHAP timeline and SAIC transcript.

[35]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.39.

[36]Op. cit., Barrie, “Oral History Interview with Archibald Motley,” 1978, p. 6. According to Motley, Buehr felt that each artist developed a style that was natural and right for him and the teacher encouraged the students to develop and retain their individual styles.

[37]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.39.

[38]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[39]“Painter of Fences Now Painter of Abstract,” Omaha Morning World Herald, 9/7/1954, p.20, AAA Schwartz reel D59, frame 0756.

[40]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings... p.6. Op. cit., Schwartz, Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1970, pp.64-65.

[41]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[42]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.6. Op. cit., Schwartz, Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1970, pp. 64-65.

[43]Op. cit., Omaha Morning World Herald, 9/7/1954, p.20.

[44]Essay by Ivan Albright, Associated American Artists of Chicago at 846 No. Michigan Avenue. Invitation to opening of 15th Anniversary season—Schwartz exhibit— 9/23-10/14/1949. Sponsored by, among others, Dr. and Mrs. Clarence Cohn [Winnetka collectors,] Mr. and Mrs. Robert Helford [Phyllis Helford, Schwartz’ stepdaughter] Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Prilik [collectors,] Mr. and Mrs. Selvyn S. Schwartz, [collectors,] Mrs. David B. Werbe, [Anna, Detroit collector and gallery owner].

[45]Bill Lovatt, “Visiting Artist Finds Inspiration in N. B. Area,” Evening Times-Globe, St. John, New Brunswick, 7/24/1957, p.15 and continued on p.24, col. 7. AAA Schwartz reel D59, frame 0767.

[46]Op. cit., Albright, Newsday, 1950, n. p.

[47]Op. cit., Lovatt, Evening Times-Globe, 7/24/1957, p.15.

[48]For example, from AAA Schwartz reel D59, (frames individually given in brackets following, all locations unknown), also illustrated in Chapman without any documentary information, (Chapman, p.271,) 1930, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches; The Baggageman {0035,} (Chapman, p.187,) 1929, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches; High Pockets Bill {0046} (Chapman, p.191,) 1930, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches; Head of a Man, {0039} (Chapman, p.275,) 1930, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches; A Peasant, {0039,} (Chapman, p.279,) 1930, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches; Painting # 213, {0045,} (Chapman, p.285,) 1930, oil on canvas; and the sculpture, Head of Christ, {0030,} dimensions, year of completion, prior to 1930 (Chapman, p.257).

[49]1918, further information unavailable, but included in 1919 in the Art Institute’s Twenty-Second Annual Exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity

[50]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.16.


[52]Jewish Chronicle, [Temple Beth El, Detroit], 1/16/1925. “Prizes were awarded to 6 artists whose work was on display at the fourth annual exhibition of Jewish Artists…The prizes were awarded to the following artists in the order given: William Schwartz of Chicago for a group of paintings...The jury awards consisted of Albert Kahn, chairman: Clyde Burroughs, curator of the Detroit Museum of Art, Jessie Talmagae, art director of the Detroit Recreation Commission, and Mr. David Werbe, artist and chairman of the exhibit.” For the 1926 prize see: “Chicago Artists Win Awards in Detroit,” “Chicago Artists Win Awards in Detroit,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 4/13/1926, p.4. Multiple biographical sources state he won the Albert Kahn prize in 1926 at the Detroit Institute of Art. This cannot be confirmed by the museum, and neither did he exhibit there that year. Rather, he won first prize at the Jewish artists exhibition, where Burroughs, curator of the museum, was one of the jurors. Information on the exhibitions courtesy of Jan Durecki, Temple Beth El archivist. The Temple was designed by Kahn, who was a very wealthy successful architect; it was also his home synagogue. The firm continues to this day. Information courtesy of and accessed 1/21/2015.

[53]Op. cit., Morning World Herald, 9/7/1954, p.20. “Originally rejected as ‘too young’ for a single showing, he said he played a hunch and offered an 8 by 10-foot canvas, The Emancipator, to a national exhibit. It was accepted and he made his first splash.”

[54]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.8.


[56]“Chicago Schools Obtain Prize Painting,” Art Digest, Vol. 2, 3/15/1927, p.3. Inez Cunningham, “Exhibition by Chicago Artists to Open Today,” Chicago Tribune, 2/3/1927, p.23, and “Art And Artists,” Chicago Tribune, 2/6/1927, p.E6.

[57]Lena M. McCauley, “Jury Scored for ‘Shattering Faith’,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 10/30/1928, pp.1, 3, 11. The painting was illustrated in the 11/20/1928 issue, p.2. Shown in Kansas City later, it was illustrated in The Kansas City Star, 1/23/1929, p.17.

[58]Contemporary American Painting, (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1929), p.16, entry #41.

[59]Glicenstein, (1929, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, initially in the collection of Selvyn S. Schwartz of Chicago, current location unknown,) won on 1/29/1930, the Mrs. John C. Shafer prize of $200 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 34th Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0017.

[60]Dancing the Blues Awa y (1936, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches, location unknown) won the Clyde M. Carr prize of $100 at the 1936 Art Institute of Chicago 40th Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. Illustrated in Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago: Consignment catalog IV, 2001, p.46.

[61]The prize was awarded his Glicenstein, Tom Vickerman, “Odd Jury Picks Art for Jewish Annual,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 2/24/1931, pp.1, 11.

[62]op. cit., Journal of the Illinois State..., p.443. His work Galena was purchased by the college.

[63]Nature Versus Man, No. 2, (further information unavailable,) won, on 6/5/1945, the Mr. and Mrs. Jules [or Jule] F. Brower prize of $300 at the Art Institute of Chicago 49th Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0152.

[64]In The Beginning***Through My Cosmic Eye, (1949, watercolor, 27 x 30 inches, initially in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Butler of Glenview, Ill., current location unknown,) won, on 5/28/1952, the Municipal Art League Prize of $200, at the Art Institute of Chicago. AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0161.

[65]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p. 115, illustration on p. 111. “Yosel the Golem is the embodiment of spirit in matter. He is the golem of ancient adage, a blind force afraid of itself, furious for retaliation, ready to annihilate self and all within its reach. The eyes of matter stare uncomprehending from the square head of this hugely built colossus. Here is brutal strength carnified. The lummox dominates the painting and looms high above the rooftops and towers. The simple color structure of sombre low tones in rufous russet and the burnt red of a dying sunset adds to the power compressed in this simple canvas.”

Part II

At the Art Institute in the beginning of his student years, Schwartz had met Anthony Angarola,[1] a kindred soul, who was to become his best friend,[2] painting partner and mentor; one can observe their friendship through Schwartz’ painting Anthony and Myself.[3] In this work of satin smoothness, the two are portrayed in an almost marital pose, Angarola sitting in a chair with Schwartz standing behind him. It is one of the few self-portraits of Schwartz in which his hair is neatly combed, perhaps to mirror Angarola’s style. Likewise, it is one of the few self-portraits of Schwartz depicting serenity on his part, perhaps allowing the inner serenity, which he found in the company of the other artist, to be seen.


During 1928-1929, after more than ten years of close contact and friendship, they had been separated physically by Angarola’s Guggenheim grant, which he had used to travel, study and paint in Europe.[4] Though not in corporeal contact, the friends kept in constant correspondence, sometimes with Chicago artist gossip from Schwartz and tales of European adventures from Angarola. In 1929, Schwartz sent Angarola, then in Paris, a strange request pertaining to the former’s earlier days in Vilna:


“Tony I am going to ask you something which will not be hard for you to do. I understand that there is a man by the name of SOUTIN who is the leader of the group Modigliani used to be leader [sic] I would like you to find out his address and send it to me. Now I’ll tell you why I want it. When I was studying art in Russia we had a fellow by that same name who was a good friend of mine and were in the same class for four years, it seems to me that it is the same boy and I would like to get in touch with him. I am sending a photo of myself at the time I left Russia, if it is the same Soutin, he will recognize me from it, get one of the boys that can speak Jewish or French to go with you and if he is as important in Paris as some of the boys speak of him, it will be worth while for you to meet him. Hoping you will find him and please save the photograph as it is the only one I got.”[5]


Several weeks later, Schwartz wrote again:


“Now Tony, I wonder if you have seen this Soutin fellow and if it is the one I know, of course my name was different in Russia, and that is why I sent you a photo and on the back of it is my Russian name, it sure would be interesting if it is the same as we both starved plenty when we were students but we both worked like hell and were happy”[6]


There is no evidence of any Angarola meeting with Soutine and the Russian name on the photograph was never revealed. Schwartz’ only verified connection with Soutine seems to be the Zoromskis essay of 1953, ten years after Soutine’s demise.


While it was not Schwartz who died in August 1929, he must have felt that way. On August 15, 1929, in the early morning hours of his return to Chicago, Angarola died unexpectedly, an event that shattered Schwartz. Although connected during their time apart by correspondence, Schwartz, for a year, had not had the physical support and artistic criticism of his best friend. Immediately upon Angarola’s return to Chicago, Schwartz was expecting to interact with his artistic soul mate again, to seek his approval and a critique of his new work done in Tony’s absence.[7] Angarola’s unanticipated death severed the connection that had sustained and supported Schwartz for so many years.


Schwartz was so stricken that he refused to paint for several weeks. The work that finally painted out his grief, La Commedia, is complex with jumbled, layered metaphoric images.[8] Among the images is a rear central crucifixion figure behind Angarola’s corpse, which lies in an open coffin, viewed by a female figure. In the lower left corner, a disheveled Schwartz is working on an easel painting of a female figure, possibly the same one that stands before the coffin, a figure whom Chapman described as the “…allegory of poverty…represented by an emaciated mother sheltering her gaunt offspring.”[9] Whatever the alleged meanings of the piece, it was the cathartic release of his pain and fears, the acceptance of the end of his reliance on Angarola for critique and creative stimulus. [10] It was, in short, the embracing of his artistic solitude and dependence on himself for his own success as an artist.


Schwartz had met his future wife, Mona Turner in 1923, at a studio party after his concert.[11] She served initially as his model,[12] an enterprise that grew to friendship and love, as shown in Schwartz’ 1935 painting, Autobiography, (oil on canvas, 30 x 23 15/16 inches, location unknown).[13] In 1939, they wed.[14] In their newspaper wedding announcement,[15] Mona was listed as Miss Mona Dresner and the article indicated that she “…conducts a private kindergarten in the Park Lane hotel on Chicago’s northside.” Mona had two children from her previous marriage, Bernard and Phyllis Dresner, (later Mrs. Robert Helford).[16] Schwartz later described his wife:


“ ‘She is my everything,’ is his way of describing Mona, who chauffeurs, mothers, companions, and manages the artist to their mutual heart’s content, in a studio apartment above Riccardo’s.”[17]


Mona probably knew more about Schwartz than anyone except his mother and siblings.[18] None left us information about his early life in Russia, “…and he seldom spoke about it.”[19] However, one can surmise aspects of his Russian childhood from many of his paintings, the previously discussed Yosel, the Golum, being an example. Each artist is born somewhere and his childhood experiences in that place become encoded into his psyche, mingling with all the later experiences and training of his life. Many of Schwartz’ earlier paintings were peopled with Eastern European peasant-folk and the surroundings and buildings one would imagine to be their normal environs, dating in appearance to the turn of the twentieth century or earlier.[20] These same people and houses were common in his early works.[21]


Although these paintings might indicate an artist of possible Eastern European origin, they could, by no means, be called typically Russian, containing no folk art items, or grayed-out wispy angels flying over the town. Memories of his place of birth, instead, became a vehicle for his use of saturated color. One of Schwartz’s strongest memories of Russia is its color—fantastic architecture, costumes, and peasants.[22]


In addition to using images from his past, Schwartz often reused images from one painting to another, many times including objects from his studio.[23] Donkey and Mums, (1940, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, current location unknown,) contains a small ceramic planter, a blue-green donkey with two attached yellow basket-looking pannier/planters holding a pair of small jade plants juxtaposed with a vase of chrysanthemums. This same planter is seen in the Green Couch,[24] (also 1940, oil on canvas, 26 x 30 inches, initially in the collection of Charles R. Prilik of Chicago. This painting depicts a corner of Schwartz’ studio/living area,[25] featuring a couch with a kelly-green slipcover with white leaf-like stripes, on which Mona semi-reclines. This painting also depicts one of Schwartz’ other paintings[26] hanging on the wall over the couch, probably showing the reality of the area at the time. Still Life, (1929, 30 x 36 inches, collection of Dallas Museum of Art,) portrays a still life with a wine bottle and apples on a tilting Cezannesque table, with the formal flower arrangement of Lithograph # 18,[27] in the background, or perhaps the actual lithograph was represented in the painting.[28] This illustrates Schwartz’ penchant for reworking a piece in multi-media, one image perhaps spanning lithography,[29] watercolor and oil on canvas.


A Corner in My Studio, (1938, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, formerly collection of Dr. & Mrs. Samuel Kaufman of Chicago) is essentially a multiple-in-one painting. It contains a self-portrait, albeit a rear view, of the painter in his studio, an area apparently separated from the main room by a deep purple velvet drape. Above the ubiquitous green couch hang two paintings, the upper one, a composition mostly comprised of a huge triangular tree with what appears to be a sort of grotto containing a statue in its basal foliage, and the other seeming to be one of his Symphonic Forms. The sculpture, An Old Man,[30] (1930, medium, dimensions and current location unknown,) sits on a pedestal, with another Symphonic Form-like painting below it. Another person, perhaps male and very possibly a student of Schwartz’s,[31] sits on the floor, (right foreground) appearing to be painting or drawing.


While called a cubist by some,[32] it could be that Schwartz’s the spare wedge like shapes of cubism came, rather, from his experience with lithography where he often formed the image as much by the use of negative space as positive,[33] a characteristic which followed through to his subsequent paintings, giving them a cubistic appearance.


It may have been that, after Angarola’s death, acquaintances of the Angarola/Schwartz artistic duo hypothesized that Schwartz would fade away as a working artist. The actuality was completely the opposite. Schwartz bloomed, and, working hard, began seriously exhibiting in galleries and exhibitions, both juried and invitational, winning prizes and commissions for the rest of his long life, as will be discussed further on, as well as developing a cadre of loyal collectors. These circumstances allowed the artist to support himself and his family principally through his art.[34] By 1957, Schwartz was paid $2,000 to $3,000 for a painting,[35] an amount that, with the sale of about six paintings per year, would allow quite a reasonable living at that time.


Indeed, although Angarola had been deeply missed in 1928-1929, Schwartz must have been working frantically. Manuel Chapman, who was to become his biographer with the book, William S. Schwartz, a Study, had to have been working on the text during the time of difficulty after Angarola’s death, for the book to be published in 1930. Also during this time, “…moving pictures of Mr. Schwartz at work in his Chicago studio were made for exhibition at an ‘art’ movie theater there [Chicago]; and the film now is being shown elsewhere.”[36]


Schwartz was not one to join reactionary vanguard groups,[37] such as Carl Hoeckner (1883-1972), Rudolph Weisenborn (1881-1974) and Raymond Jonson’s (1891-1982) “Cors Ardens”[38] or the same group’s No Jury Society of Artists.[39] A member of the Chicago Society of Artists, rather, he worked within the system, submitting to the traditional mainstream conservative juries, with whom he had some successes.


Early on, Schwartz described his style of painting as “’progressive contemporary painting,’ rather than modernistic,”[40] indicating that he became interested in this type of work while studying under Buehr at the Art Institute of Chicago. Twenty-seven years later, he spoke somewhat differently, saying that he had been raised with modern art and had helped it come of age:


“My abstracts [the Symphonic Forms series] are a little different, I call them abstract forms… Symphonic means harmonious — in color, line and form. What the musical composer does for the ear, I do for the eye.”[41]


Never bound to one style or medium, Schwartz alternately created abstractions and realistic or representational scenes[42] in oil, watercolor, conté crayon, pastel, pencil and ink, as well as clay. While classed by many as a modernist, Schwartz was rarely classed with the extreme modern abstractionists, but called, rather:


“…a neoteric [modernist] on the conservative side, in that his artistic approach is as clear as an autumn sky. He presents no ponderous problem, no shocking theory and leaves the senses better off for contact with his intent. His brushwork is gracefully free of contortion and artifice and makes its point without fuss or fume. He likes color as such and makes no bones about using the richest at his command to achieve the simple objective of visual pleasure through harmony of color with line and form.”[43]


No matter what his painting medium, Schwartz was obsessed with color, leading a writer to comment that his work was easily recognized through the use of “…favorite certain deep reds and blues, as well as an individual hue of green.”[44] One observer mentioned that he must have had stock in an aniline company based on his lavish use of brilliant color.[45] Schwartz,’ then unconventional, use of color was elucidated by biographer Chapman:[46]


“Color was his primary interest…Each color was used separately. By using pigments very “thin” and with almost no white, he attained lucent effects in his abstract color orchestrations. The glow of his painted canvases gave them the quality of stained glass. Schwartz may be characterized by the interior luminosity of his pristine colors…Color was his medium. Every object was given a transfigured existence in color….”


This use of saturated color was critically successful, as shown by the awards he won, juried and invitational exhibits in which he participated, and collections into which his works were purchased.[47] His awards listing included many of the big name prizes and ran consistently through the years; beginning, in Detroit, in 1925 and 1926 with the previously discussed Albert Kahn Prize and Temple Beth El Sisterhood First Prize.[48]


Selected group exhibitions for Schwartz include, A Century of Progress, Chicago, 1933.[49] Likewise, in 1933, 49 Chicago Artists, Paintings and Prints, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Painting and Sculpture From Sixteen American Cities, at the Museum of Modem Art, New York. The Museum of Modem Art was again an exhibition site for Schwartz in 1936, with the show New Horizons in American Art. The Brooklyn Museum, New York, was Schwartz’ big show in 1937 with the Ninth Biennial: International Exhibition of Watercolor. His 1939 exhibitions were the Biennial, at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. and The New York World’s Fair. The 1940’s exhibits encompassed, in 1941, Contemporary American Water Colors, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; in 1942, Between the Two Wars: Prints by American Artists 1914-1941, at the Whitney Museum of American Art; and, in 1942, Artists for Victory: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.[50]


The Associated American Artists, in both New York and Chicago, with whom Schwartz dealt, as part of their stable, from 1943-1948, taking part in exhibitions as well as putting paintings in some of their traveling shows, was a source of sales as well as major commissions.[51] It was through this organization that Schwartz received several industrial commissions, one with Hiram Walker Distilleries, for whom he did a painting that was used as a magazine advertisement for the company.[52] The painting, Whiskey Rolling in the Rackhouse to Age, was not only a depiction of a man rolling barrels, a portrait of the distillery; it was one of Schwartz’ signature paintings, with his vivid color use and a huge roiling sky topping the barrel area and dominating the painting.[53]


Niagara Alkali, a chemical plant in Niagara, New York also commissioned a painting.[54] The resultant painting, showing a portion of the plant with twin smokestacks, backed by the requested “violent sky,” was used in an advertisement announcing their “new and expanded facilities to meet the unprecedented demands of war.”[55] The Standard Oil,[56] Pittsburgh, commission[57]was initially for three pieces in either watercolor or oil; a commission that ultimately became six watercolors.[58]


Through the Associated American Artists, the Encyclopedia Britannica[59] purchased Near Northside Chicago, (1935, oil on canvas, 36 x 40 inches, Encyclopedia Britannica Collection, University of Chicago.) Another Schwartz painting sold through the auspices of the Association of American Artists was Walnut Street, Baraboo [WI] (prior to March 30, 1945, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, sold for $750 on March 30, 1945, buyer unconfirmed, but it probably was the American People’s Encyclopedia, in whose collection it was placed.)[60] This same painting was reproduced in color in the American People’s Encyclopedia.[61]


Today, Schwartz is well represented in the collections of many institutions not the least of which is the Art Institute of Chicago.[62] An anonymous donor was a double benefactor for Schwartz and seven museums throughout the country when he donated a Schwartz painting to each of them. Dale O’Brien and Howard G. Mayer[63] seemed to be the liaisons between the artist and the museums. The seven museums were contacted with the inquiry as to whether or not they would accept a Schwartz painting for their collection. All replied in the affirmative. Schwartz sent a grouping of four or five paintings to each of the museums. Each chose the piece they wanted and the anonymous patron paid for it, and it was shipped to them. The seven museums include:


Art Institute of Chicago—Chicago Harbor, 1931; San Francisco Museum—Symphonic Forms #6, 1932; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha—The Ex-trapper, 1937; The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philadelphia— Scene in Sheboygen, 1942; The Henry Gallery, University of Wash, Seattle— Watchman’s Tower, 1942; The Santa Barbara Museum of Art—A Southern Tenement, 1948; Denver Art Museum—Legend of Morning, 1950[64]


National collections include the United States Library of Congress and Department of Labor.


Schwartz’ awards did not come about by chance; rather, they were the result of the imaginative output of a man who was as much cerebral and analytical as artistic. William Samuel Schwartz theorized about his artwork and its philosophy as much as he applied the pigment to canvas or paper. This intellectualization led to the formation of his credo, written while he lived at 102 East Hubbard[65] in Chicago:


“All my Life: I have been a musician as well as a painter. In both music and art, I believe that the great thing is the creation, in an individual way, of harmony. In art, among the old masters as well as among the contemporary artists, the harmony may be of three sorts—of color, of form and of line. In looking at nature, therefore, I search for materials which may be interpreted and manipulated until they become unified wholes that reveal the sorts of harmony which are representative of my own personality—my thoughts and my feelings. I feel that the mastery of only one of these elements—color, form or line is unsatisfactory. Difficult though it may be, I strive for the simultaneous mastery of all three.”


It is easy for the observer of about a quarter of a century after Schwartz’ demise to see, from the works which he created, that he mastered his all-important triad of elements, color, form and line. William Schwartz was never monetarily rich, rather, with this triple mastery; he made his viewers’ lives richer, giving the beholder an invigorating glimpse into the world as seen through the prism of this artist’s imagination.


[1]See Angarola essay by Richard Angarola, Connie Poore, and Joel S. Dryer for further information.

[2]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.37.

[3]1924, oil on canvas 36 x 42 inches, collection Ondine Angarola Langford.

[4]See Angarola essay for particulars.

[5]Angarola family archives, Letter from Schwartz to Angarola, 3/15/1929, pp. 3-4.

[6]Angarola family archives, letter from Schwartz to Angarola, 4/1/1929, p.3.

[7]Angarola family archives, letter from Schwartz to Angarola, 4/15/1929, p.2. “You have a surprise coming when you’ll see my latest work, it is all changed and I hope for the better. Yes Tony, I too have been working hard and have produced a lot of work while you were in Europe. Yes, it will be interesting to see and hear what you will think of it.”

[8]AAA Schwartz reel D59, frame 0029. (1929, oil on canvas, current location unknown,) Chapman, p.64.

[9]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.66.

[10]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, pp.65-67. “A supernatural light from an otherworldly sky casts a strange glow over this ghastly scene painted in earthy reds, pallid yellows, lurid silvers, and restive blues.”

[11]Op. cit., Thompson, Chicago Sunday Tribune, 1949, Part 3, p.6N.

[12]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.28.

[13]Op. cit., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frames 0032-0033. These records exhibit photographs taken of Schwartz’ sculpture, Head of Mona, (1931, location unknown,) front and rear views, and one with Schwartz with his arm around the bust on a pedestal. This piece was done halfway between their meeting and marriage and after she had been introduced to his Los Angeles siblings in 1928, [reference photograph discussed earlier,] and, from his loving pose, was obviously not meant merely as a generic sculpture using her as a model. Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p28. Autobiography depicts the artist and his future wife Mona Turner his studio. Schwartz met Mona about 1929; they were married in 1939. Mona was an essential part of Schwartz’s life and career. For the duration of their married life, until Schwartz’s death in 1977, she diligently took responsibility for all administrative aspects of his career, including appointments, accounts, clipping files, as well as modeling. This painting is illustrated on p.38 of this source.

[14]Op. cit., Thompson, Chicago Sunday Tribune, 1949, Part 3, p.6N, “They were married in 1939 at Briggsville, Wis., a village of fifty people, and one of the painter’s favorite spots for working.”

[15]“Lawn Ceremony Unites Chicago Couple at Briggsville,” Wisconsin State Register, Portage, Wisconsin, 8/25/1939, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0615.

[16]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.4. At this writing Bernard Dresner lives in Paris, France, and Phyllis Dresner Helford, formerly of Des Plaines, Illinois, is deceased. Her son, at this writing, is successful Hollywood producer Bruce Helford, who remained steadfastly unwilling to cooperate with any research nor share any of his files for such purposes.

[17]Op. cit., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, image 0756.

[18]Claire Conley, “Omahan’s Painting at Joslyn Recalls Determined Struggle,” Omaha Evening World-Herald, 5/24/1951. In this article the author indicated that, “His mother was the late Mrs. Taba [Tauba] Schwartz, also of Omaha.” We have no other reference or date for her death.

[19]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.5.

[20]One can observe Old Country Bazaar, (1926, oil on canvas, 36 x 42 inches, current location unknown) exhibited in the 1926 Thirty-Ninth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Brilliantly colored, almost reminiscent of stained glass, it portrays the backs of anonymous female figures, composed mostly of their multi-colored skirts, aprons, kerchiefs and shawls. The few men are composed of brown suits and hats, except for one forward-facing man in a white cape and tricorn hat, perhaps a nobleman. They are in a small village square buying and selling items. The background buildings appear to be tilted and crooked small houses. One would doubt a community so depicted could ever have been so colorful in reality, but Schwartz was always engrossed in his signature use of saturated color, no matter what the subject. This painting is reproduced in color on the cover of Dreishpoon, The Paintings, Drawings, and Lithographs of William S. Schwartz.

[21]After Working Hours, (1927, oil on canvas, 38 x 48 inches, current location unknown) is comprised of the same clothing-composed people of Old Country Bazaar, milling around in a park-like area on a bluff with other bluff tops visible upper left and right center. The opposite bluffs contain the same crooked slab houses of Old Country Bazaar. All the figures except three are like in appearance to the Bazaar people, The three more modern figures include a man dressed in white cap, slacks and shirt like a house painter and a woman, with short uncovered hair in a tunic and long skirt with a little girl at her side. Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, illustrated on p. 18.

[22]Daniel Catton Rich, essay for “William Samuel Schwartz Exhibition, 12/6-12/18/1943,” for Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0631.

[23]For a number of years, during the late 1930’s into the 1940’s, Schwartz lived at 102 E. Hubbard in Chicago, in a two room apartment above Riccardo’s Restaurant. The main room contained Mona’s kitchen, his studio and their living area.

[24]Illustrated on the Internet web page of Robert Henry Adams Fine Art Gallery in Chicago, <>.

[25]This is known because in photographs of William and Mona at home in 1944, AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frames 0195-0196, one can see the same slipcover and donkey planter on a table at the end of the couch-precisely as in the Green Couch.

[26]The painting is a framed [probably oil on canvas] work of a village, Midwestern in appearance, with a traditional white church with steeple at its center, backed by a cloudy sky.

[27]1928, 18¾ by 12¼  inches, edition of 25, current location(s) unknown, illustrated in Chapman, p.156.

[28]It is virtually impossible to be certain of the actual picture from the microfilm copy of the photograph found in the AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0025.

[29]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.13. In 1928 Schwartz began to investigate lithography. Though he worked in this medium for only ten years, from 1928 to 1938, he produced a significant body of prints. Consistent with his careful record keeping, each print was given a chronological number and an impression number. From the records he kept during this period, we know that he executed a total of sixty lithographs, pulled in editions that varied from sixteen to seventy-three impressions. The range of his subjects and method of working varied. In some cases, a conté crayon drawing served as the preliminary study for a print. In other cases, a print was based on an earlier painting, as in Dwelling along the River and The Old Monastery Wall, which became Lithographs No. 10 and 42. By and large, however, lithography offered Schwartz the chance to extend his repertoire of subjects and to experiment with a new medium. Mastering, with subtlety, the tonal range and contrast inherent in the medium, he produced images remarkable for their elegant simplicity, draughtsmanship, and formal design. In his series of sensuous nudes, for example the female form is brought to the threshold of abstraction by a minimum of definition.

[30]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, p.143.

[31]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930. Max says, “My brother...has a great big studio, full of lovely things. I’ve visited him several times. Young men are always there, taking lessons or having him help them with their pictures. They just worship him. He’s their idol. They pay him for teaching them, of course, but some of them make more money than he does!” [as commercial artists.]

[32]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930, the subtitle to the article is, “William Schwartz acclaimed as artist who shows Real Possibilities of Cubism…” “William Schwartz, a Chicago painter of Russian Jewish extraction, is one of the most successful of American moderns. His work is modern not because of his cubistic tendencies but because he has grasped the spirit of experimentation.”

[33]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930. Especially note the 1928 series of nudes, Lithographs numbers, 4, 6, 12, notably 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 29, in which the spare wedge-stroke of the crayon delineates the form, which is seen more in what the ink of the print confines than in the ink mark, very much an image formed by negative space.

[34]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930. In response to a question about the probability of achieving great wealth through working as a commercial artist, Schwartz replied, “I’m an artist. My art is all I have; it’s all I want. I like this, I can do this, and I’ll not do anything else.”

[35]Op. cit., Lovatt, Evening Times-Globe, 7/24/1957, p.15.

[36]“Artist is Here; Modernist to Paint Mother’s Portrait,” Omaha Evening World Herald, 12/18/1930, n. p. AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0482. This author has seen no mention of this movie anywhere else.

[37]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, p.8.

[38]University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Raymond Jonson archives of the Jonson Gallery of the Fine Arts Museum, initial “Cors Ardens” brochure. A brotherhood of artists, Cors Ardens, (the flaming Heart) was an international art organization, “which recognizes art as the universal medium of expression and evidence of life,” a concrete move to bring together, at least in spirit, sympathetic, isolated individuals. Exhibitions were to be held without juries, prizes, or sales.

[39]The Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, (“No-Jury Means Freedom,”) was an alternative art exhibition organization founded in 1922. In 1931 and 1957, Schwartz did exhibit with this organization.

[40]Op. cit., Torrey, Omaha Sunday World Herald, 8/3/1930.

[41]Op. cit., Lovatt, Evening Times-Globe, 7/24/1957, p.15.

[42]Op. cit., Morning World Herald, 9/7/1954, p.20.

[43]“Schwartz Rare Soul...Pleased With Life,” Dallas Morning News, 11/20/1949, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0726.

[44]Anna L. Werbe Galleries, 19458 Livernois Ave., Detroit 21, MI., brochure for Schwartz Exhibition opening, 12/6/1959. Quote from Frank Holland, article unnamed, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/17/1954, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0756.

[45] C. J. Bulliet, “Artless Comments on the Seven Arts,” Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 10/21/1930.

[46]Op. cit., Chapman, William S. Schwartz, A Study, 1930, pp.42, 45.

[47]Curiously, throughout his career, one of the most ardent supporters of modern art, C. J. Bulliet of the Chicago Daily News, rarely mentioned Schwartz in reviews for almost two decades. Schwartz felt he and some others who failed to gain mention were unfairly grouped as part of a coterie of Art Institute favored artists. For a response to the slights see a letter to Bulliet by Schwartz, published in C. J. Bulliet, “Around the Galleries: ‘Clique’ Clubs,” Chicago Daily News, 4/29/1939, Art and Music Section, p.25.

[48]The Emancipator won the Detroit Temple Beth El Sisterhood first prize in 1926. AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0004.

[49]“cutline of photograph of Mining,” New York Times, 716/1933, n.p., “a mural by William Schwartz, one of the group of Chicago artists who were chosen to cooperate with the architects in the decoration of the buildings of the fair.” The mural was in the General Exhibits Building, Pavilion #3, in a Century of Progress, Chicago, 1933, (28 x 40 feet, a wall/ceiling installation,) AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0536. See also, “cutline to photograph of Schwartz on a scaffold putting the final touches on the mural,” Chicagoan, July, 1933, n. p. “[it] decorative and dramatic, a typical Schwartz canvas enlarged to a wall over a stairway with the usual brilliant color and stylized forms so peculiar to Schwartz.” AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0056.

[50]Op. cit., Dreishpoon, The Paintings…, pp. 16-17.

[51]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frames 0181-0230 contain letters from the Associated American Artists dating from 5/23/1943 through 12/16/1949.

[52]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0205, telegram of 11/11/1944 from Associated American Artists director, Reeves Lewenthal, that “[we] have agreed to $1800 price for your Hiram Walker painting.”

[53]The AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0679, a copy of the advertisement showing the painting and texted with an article, “Art of Whiskey-Making at Hiram Walker is Portrayed by Famous American Painters.” An inset of Schwartz at work calls him, “ of the many artists with international reputations who are portraying the fine art of fine whiskey making.”

[54]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0192, Associated American Artists letter of 2/4/1944 from Estelle Mandel.


Your assignment for them will be a single painting, preferably an outdoor one with a very violent sky, along the lines of the paintings of yours which we have here in the galleries.


[55]The AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0643. The copy of the advertisement has no mention of where it was published.

Also note, n. a., “ ‘Fine’ Art in Advertising,” American Artist, January, 1946, p. 30, which used Schwartz’ Niagara Alkali painting as an illustration for an article discussing the “...publication of the 24th Annual of Advertising Art, with its 350 reproductions of jury-selected art work,” The AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0683.

[56]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0195, Associated American Artists letter of 5/5/1944 from Estelle Mandel.

[57]The AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frames 0646-0655, The Lamp, December, 1944, Vol. 26, No. 6—Schwartz’ painting, Making Grease at Pittsburgh, was the cover art. The commissioned painting series, “Watercolors of the Pittsburgh Grease Works,” was reproduced on pp. 13-16.

[58]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0197, Associated American Artists letter of 5/25/1944 from Estelle Mandel.

[59]Op. cit., Mandel letter of 5/5/1944.

[60]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0213, Associated American Artists consignment receipt with date of sale listed. The receipt was from the New York branch, but the painting had been shipped to Chicago in February, 1945, according to a postcard of “Gallery advice,” record Reel D58, frame 0215.

[61]It appeared in the section on “American Painting Today,” in Volume A, published by the Spencer Press, Chicago. The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frame 0227, Associated American Artists letter of 7/6/1948 from Estelle Mandel.

[62]“Ex-Omahan’s Art is on Display Here,” Omaha World-Herald, 10/17/1954, n. p., AAA Schwartz Reel D59, frame 0756: “A series of 25 lithographs and 10 watercolors by Chicago Artist William S. Schwartz, former Omahan, are being exhibited at Joslyn Art Museum. The exhibit will extend through November 14. The museum announced that six of the lithographs will be given to the museum’s permanent collection as a memorial to the artist’s brother, the late Max I. Schwartz. Donors are Mr. and Mrs. Sidney M. Schwartz, of Omaha, and Dr. and Mrs. Clarence Cohn, Winnetka, Ill.”

[63]The AAA Schwartz Reel D58, frames 0156, 0157, 0158, letters dating respectively, 4/18/1951, 3/9/1951 and 3/12/1951, also note-personal communication with this author of 5/15/2001, from Joslyn registrar, Penelope Smith. The Joslyn records show that: Ex-Trapper, oil on canvas, [36 x 30 inches,] no date [1937,] was an anonymous gift (donor described as a patron of Mr. Schwartz). Donation arranged through Howard G. Mayer and Dale O’Brien, Tribune Tower, Chicago. Mr. O’Brien described himself as a trustee of the Society of Contemporary Art of the Art Institute of Chicago and was its president in 1950. The patron, who wished to remain anonymous, purchased seven works by Mr. Schwartz to be placed in various American Institutions, this per a letter from Mr. O’Brien, 2/28/1951 to the Joslyn director.

[64]Eleanor Jewett, “Patron Donates Paintings to Seven Museums,” Chicago Tribune, 5/24/1951.

[65]The credo is undated, but he lived at this address from the late 1930’s into the 1940’s.

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