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 William Castle Keith  (1863 - 1927)

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Lived/Active: New York/Michigan / Germany/Netherlands      Known for: figure, village scenes, interiors and marine painting

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Ad Code: 3
William Castle Keith
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Castle Keith (1863-1927) was born in Penfield near Rochester N.Y. on February 18, 1863. His father was a railroad engineer, and as a young man Keith worked as a fireman for his father on Engine # 573 between Syracuse N. Y and Niagara Falls. In 1889 Keith began his art career by studying drawing at the Paul Nauen School in Munich, which was then regarded to be one of the most prominent schools for art in that famous old city. In addition, he studied in London, Paris and sketched for a summer in Italy. These European experiences were fruitful as one of  his paintings won a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition in 1895. 

In 1896 Keith returned to America establishing a studio in Syracuse N.Y. , becoming president of the Syracuse Art Club and starting the Syracuse Sketch Art Club. Two of his paintings are currently found in the Onondaga Historical Association of that city. After multiple trips to Europe, Keith in 1901 decided to reside in the Netherlands. He spent some years in Amsterdam, where two of his paintings were acquired by the Stedelijk Museum. He also painted in The Hague at Laren an North Brabant. He always had a special affinity for Brabant where he lived and painted in a small peasant village of Heeze until 1921. After that time, he returned to America living in Toledo, Ohio which was one of his favorite towns, and his work was greatly appreciated there.

Little wonder Castle Keith is better known abroad than at home. Indeed, one newspaper editorial [news clipping from the Syracuse Public Library dated Jan. 28., 1908] chided its local citizens: "It is said that a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, but let us not fail to give a Syracuse artist the credit at home he gets abroad....  the best art buyers in New York, London, Paris and Berlin have secured Mr. Keith's pictures, and in galleries and private collections his canvasses hang with the best that can be produced."
This admonishment stands in stark contrast with the glowing reviews his work received in Europe. I quote from on exhibition in The Hague. "Castle Keith has discovered in the somber interiors of Brabant much that is intimately beautiful. He sees with genuine painter's eyes, from the most trifling nook and corner as in the magnificent little painting where the birdcage hangs crooked on  the wall. Out of a poor neglected hovel where people live, he has made a glorious thing." DeNieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, May 10, 1921. 

According to several obituaries Keith died in Detroit [some biographies have reputed Detroit to be his birth place].
Thus it was fitting as it was predictable that a Memorial Exhibition of Castle Keith was given by Frans Buffa and Sons Art Dealers, Amsterdam and New York.

1.] All the materials, facts and dates in this biography were drawn from files provided by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Onondaga Historical Association of Syracuse N.Y.  Chief among them: Reproductions and Criticisms of the work of Castle Keith; Translations from the Dutch D.P.K.; Photographs from the studio of C.L. Lewis, Toledo Ohio; Memorial Exhibition Castle Keith; Frans Buffa and Sons Art Dealers, Amsterdam-New York

Submitted by Dr. Thomas Urban, Art Collector

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