Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Thomas Pollock Anshutz - part 1

Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1851 – 1912) was an American painter and teacher. He was the co-founder of The Darby School and leader at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Anshutz was known for his award winning portraiture work and for his working friendship with Thomas Eakins.

Anshutz was born in Newport, Kentucky in 1851. He grew up in Newport and Wheeling, West Virginia. His early art instruction took place at the National Academy of Design in the early 1870s, where he studied under Lemuel Wilmarth. In 1875 he moved to Philadelphia and took a class taught by Thomas Eakins at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, a class which would solidify a close relationship and influence between Eakins and Anshutz.

 In 1878 Anshutz became Eakins assistant, eventually replacing Eakins as Chief Demonstrator when Eakins became Professor of Drawing and Painting. In 1880 he completed his first major work, The Ironworker's Noontime, (1880) while still a student. Eakins was dismissed from his position in 1886 and Anshutz took over as art instruction leader at the Academy. Anshutz would briefly travel to Europe, focusing primarily on his teaching in Philadelphia. Numerous artists studied under Anshutz, including George Luks, Charles Demuth, John Sloan, Charles Sheeler, Everett Shinn, John Marin, William Glackens, and Robert Henri.

In 1892 Anshutz married Effie Shriver Russell. The two spent their honeymoon in Paris, where Anshutz attended classes at Académie Julian. In 1893 they returned to Philadelphia. The Anshutz family regularly vacationed in Holly Beach, New Jersey which served as a creative place for the painter. There he experimented with watercolours, bright colour palette, and simple compositions. He also photographed the natural environment, utilizing the images as studies for paintings, specifically Holly Beach and trips down the Delaware and Maurice rivers.

Although Anshutz experimented persistently with landscape painting, he was more well known for his portraiture, which won him numerous awards in the 1890s and 1900s. In 1898 he and Hugh Breckenridge co-founded the Darby School, a summer school outside of Philadelphia which emphasized plein air painting. At Darby Anshutz created his most abstract works, a series of bright oil landscape paintings that were never exhibited. He continued to participate at Darby until 1910. He served as a member of the National Academy of Design and president of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. He retired from teaching in the autumn of 1911 due to poor health and died in June1912.

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on Anshutz:

1879 The Farmer and His Son at Harvesting 
43.6 x 61.6 cm

1879 The Way They Live 
oil on canvas 61 x 43.2 cm

1880 Boys with a Boat, Ohio River, near Wheeling, West Virginia
 cyanotype 14.6 x 22.2 cm

The above photograph was clearly the main reference for two versions of a paintings done a little later:

1898 Steamboat on the Ohio

c1900 Steamboat on the Ohio 
oil on canvas 38 x 25 cm

1880 Factory - Study for Ironworkers ( below ), Noontime 
oil on paperboard 21.4 x 32.7 cm

1880 The Ironworker's Noontime 
oil on canvas 43.2 x 61 cm

c1885 Landscape with Tree 
oil on academy board 14.8 x 20.5 cm

1888 The Chore 
oil on canvas 25 x 35.7 cm

c1890 Lady by a Window 
watercolour 38 x 70.8 cm

c1891 A Studio Study 
oil on canvas 56 x 91.7 cm

after 1892 House and Tree ( The Artist's House ) 
oil on paperboard 20 x 26.4 cm

1893 Portrait of Mrs. Anschutz 
pastel on paper 50.8 x 66.04 cm

c1893 St. Cloud near Paris 
watercolour 21 x 26.7 cm

1894 Near Cape May 
watercolour on paper 25.4 x 36.6 cm

1894 Untitled ( Man in Boat ) 
graphite and watercolour on paper 22.4 x 32.9 cm

c1894 Untitled ( A Beach Scene ) 
watercolour on paper 17.1 x 24 cm

c1895 Checker Players 
oil on canvas 40.8 x 51 cm

c1897 On the Delaware at Tacony 
oil on canvas 58.7 x 40.96 cm

c1897 The Lumber Boat 
oil on canvas 61.3 x 41.3 cm

c1898 Boat in the Port 
oil on canvas 94 x 66 cm

c1900 Boy Reading, Ned Anshutz 
oil on canvas 96.7 x 68.8 cm

c1900 The Summer House 

c1905 The Incense Burner ( Rebecca H. Whelan ) 
oil on canvas 162.6 x 101.6 cm

c1905 Woman Writing at a Table 
oil on canvas 51.4 x 40.6 cm

1907 A Rose 
oil on canvas 147.3 x 11.4 cm

1907 Indian on the Ohio 
oil on canvas 54.6 x76.8 cm

c1908 A Study in Scarlet, Portrait of Katherine Rice 
pastel on canvas 86.4 x 76.2 cm


  1. These are awe-inspiring. I'd never heard of Anshutz, and yet have the temerity to think of myself as fairly well acquainted with the best American artists. If this man's not among those, something is awry. Thanks for taking the trouble to post these, and for the biographical sketch as well.

  2. That's good, I'm here to spread the word. I will soon post Thomas Eakin's work as well. Thank you for looking.