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 Frank Cox  (1854 - 1940)

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Lived/Active: New York/Louisiana/California      Known for: landscape, theatrical scene painter

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Evening, Rhudlan castle, North Wales
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is submitted by Beverly B. Ross, the great-niece of Tignal Franklin Cox, called Frank.  Information on this artist comes from newspaper articles (New Orleans), the memoirs of his brother, Clark Alonzo Cox, and the memoirs of his sister, LuDelle Cox Powell.

Tignal Franklin Cox
1854-1940

Frank Cox began his artistic career at the age of 15 years as a sign painter in Buffalo, Missouri.  As he became more and more successful, he moved from town to town, covering several states around Missouri.  Eventually he began to give shows in towns along the way, calling them "Chalk Talks," in which he drew caricatures of famous people.  Finally he began to add oil paintings to his shows, sometimes painting up to 50 pictures in one evening.  Thus, he billed himself as "The Lightning Artist."

The oil paintings grew, both in size and scope, and his billing changed to "The Tramp Painter."  He often made oils of local scenes during his lectures.  Sometimes he would pretend he was dissatisfied with the way a picture was turning out--green skies, blue grass, red splotches and gray spots.  Suddenly he would turn the canvas upside down, and the audience would see and entirely different picture, with blue skies and green grass.  One of these was a picture of The Garden of the Gods with the red rocks.  The gray spot turned out to be Pike's Peak in the distance.  One of his popular paintings was a 4-foot by 6-foot painting of the entrance to The Garden of the Gods.  He later opened a scene painting business, furnishing all the stage scenery and advertising drop curtains for theaters.

In 1889 he moved to New Orleans, where he worked as a scenic artist in the Old French Opera House.  He established a reputation, and then was joined by his younger brothers, Clark and Eugene, both fine artists, though Eugene was only 15 years old and still learning his craft.  They opened a studio called The Grand Southern Scenic Studios.  From 1890 to 1900 they designed and staged the Comus Parades (later called the Mardi Gras) and Grand Carnival Balls.  Frank also superintended the building of the Grand Peace Parade in Washington at the end of the Spanish-American War.

Frank's next venture came when he opened his own architectural and theatrical building office.  During the next several years he became the architect of the Galveston Opera House, theaters in Sherman, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas, Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, and a theater in Atlanta, Georgia.  He also remodeled the Sweeney and Coombs Theater in Houston, Texas, as well as others across the south, among which was the old Savannah Theater, originally built in 1812.

Frank moved to Chicago and opened Cox Brothers Studio for a time when Clark and Eugene joined him.  He later moved to Arizona and then to Los Angeles where he settled for the rest of his life.  His death came in 1940, at age 86.

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