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 Eugene Edward Speicher  (1883 - 1962)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: portrait, landscape and still life painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Eugene Speicher (1883-1962)

Eugene Speicher is considered one of the foremost realists of his generation who closely upheld the mantle of his mentor, Robert Henri.  His reputation currently rests on his involvement with the Woodstock artists’ colony and has been largely overshadowed by the popularity of The Eight and the Ashcan School.  

Born in Buffalo in 1883, Speicher began his art education by taking night classes at the Albright Art School while he worked during the day.  He moved to New York in 1907 and began attending the Art Students League where he studied with William Merritt Chase and Frank Vincent DuMond, and in 1909 took life classes with Robert Henri, which he found of great importance to his formative style.  Through Henri, with whom he became close friends, he also became acquainted with George Bellows, with whom he also became close, and with Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, Guy Pène du Bois, Leon Kroll, and a coterie of realist artists with whom he associated.

Speicher traveled abroad in 1910 to study and learn from the works housed in Europe’s great museum collections.  When he returned, he discovered Woodstock, New York, and began to split his time between Manhattan and Woodstock, where he became an important and popular figure in the art colony.

Recognized for his work in portraiture, Speicher’s renown allowed him to support himself with commissions, and he also executed many flower still lives and landscapes.  Always favoring female subjects, he was also one the few moderns to undertake nudes for which he also became known.  With a strong technique and great capability as a draughtsman, Speicher’s compositions are analytical and methodical in their design and execution.  

Speicher was named an Associate of the National Academy in 1911 and an Academician in 1926.  He also participated in independent exhibitions such as the MacDowell Club exhibitions, which were small non-juried shows originated by Henri.  Following the dissolution of the MacDowell Club effort, he became involved with the New Society of Artists, another organization of similarly liberal views who also held alternative exhibitions.  From 1911, Speicher began to receive a steady stream of significant awards, and his work was acquired by many major art museums for their permanent collections.   

He died in Woodstock, New York, 1962.

Information provided by Valerie Ann Leeds

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A native of Buffalo, New York, Eugene Speicher earned a prestigious reputation as an artist, and in 1936 was named "America's most important living artist" by the editors of Esquire magazine.

From 1902 to 1906, he studied at the Buffalo Art School, and winning an Albright Scholarship, he studied in New York at the Art Students League with William Merritt Chase.  His main influence was Robert Henri in Henri's New York Art School where fellow students were George Bellows, Edward Hopper and Guy Pene DuBois.

After a year of travel in Europe, he returned to New York to win numerous awards. He limited his portrait commissions to six a year to spend more time on figure and landscape painting. He was especially known for figure work of solid structure and design.

Source:
Michael David Zellman, Three Hundred Years of American Art


Biography from Blake Benton Fine Art, Artists S - Z:
Eugene Speicher, painter was born on April 5th, 1883 in Buffalo, New York.  He studied at the Albright School with Mary Coxe, Lucas Hitchcock, and Urquhart Wilcox from 1901 to 1906 winning an Albright Scholarship.  Speicher also studied at the Art Students' League with Frank Vincent DuMond and William Merritt Chase in 1907; and at the Independent School with Robert Henri in 1908 where fellow students were Bellows, Hopper and DuBois.  Robert Henri, Speicher's most influential teacher, can be clearly seen in his work, especially his portraiture. Speicher like Henri conveyed his subjects in a truthful straightforward manner, capturing the essence of the sitter without idealizing the subject.  He limited his portrait commissions to six a year to spend more time on figure and landscape painting.

In 1910 after a year of travel and personal study in Europe, Speicher returned to New York and "from the first, Eugene Speicher impressed his teachers and friends by the same basic qualities by which he has attained the great position he has today.  As far as I know, he was successful from the first." (Artist Gifford Beal)  It was a "confused" time when Speicher was building his career (due to the pull of modern art movements) "but he emerged from this period, enriched by the experience, and more steadfast than ever.  He remained the same Speicher."

He later summered in, and was associated with, the Woodstock Art Colony located in Woodstock, New York.  Speicher was described as being endowed with "robust health" and a "rich personality" that mimicked the "robust" and "rich" development in his art.  One fellow artist wrote: "With robust health he combined the things of the spirit which so enrich his art." During his day he was considered a stable "and brilliant tower of strength." in the art world.  His work was praised for its breadth of vision, the beauty and richness of his color, and his ability to create wide and spacious forms.  Both his peers and the public also considered him one of the best portrait painters of his time.  Speicher also painted landscapes, mountains, harbors, farms, still life, flowers and nudes.

Speicher was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design, 1912; Full Academician to the National Academy, 1927.  He was also a member of the National Society of Portrait Painters; National Arts Club; Contemporary Group; International Society of Painters Sculptors and Gravers; New Society of Artists; Century Club; Boston Art Club and others.  He was director of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1945.

He won numerous awards during his career including Proctor prize, National Academy of Design, 1911; third Hallgarten prize, 1914, NAD; first Hallgarten prize, 1915, NAD; Isidor portrait prize, Salmagundi Club, 1913; silver medal, Panama Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1915; Beck gold medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1920; third class medal, 1921, Carnegie Institute, second class medal, 1922, Carnegie Institute; Potter Palmer gold medal ($1000), Art Institute of Chicago, 1926; medal of the first class of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC,1935 and others.  The Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo had a large retrospective exhibition of his works in 1950, and the Academy of Arts and Letters had a retrospective in 1963.  He taught at the Art Students' League from 1908 to 1913 and again from 1919 to 1920. He had his first one-man show at the Montross Gallery in New York in 1918. Eugene Speicher passed away on May 12th, 1962.

Source:
Blake Benton Fine Art

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Eugene Speicher is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Nudes
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915



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