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 Richard Earl Thompson  (1914 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Wisconsin/California      Known for: impressionist landscape and figure painting

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Ad Code: 3
Richard Earl Thompson
from Auction House Records.
Late-Afternoon, Fall
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Richard Earl Thompson was an American impressionist, much influenced by the French school, and a highly successful illustrator. He was a child prodigy at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts where he was a student of Frederick Grant. After that, he attended the Chicago Art Institute with Louis Ritman, who was a strong influence on his drawing, color, and composition skills.

To earn a living, he chose a career in commercial art, doing many back covers of the Saturday Evening Post, especially while working with Haddon Sundbloom. Thompson also did World War II War bond Posters.

In 1959, with commercial art being replaced by photography, he turned to a full-time career in fine art and divided his life between the woods of Wisconsin and the shores of the Florida Keys with his wife Mary Munn.

Of his career beginning in the late 1950s, Thompson created more than 1500 oil paintings.  In his Chicago Tribune obituary, he was quoted as having said of his paintings:  "No shock treatments, no political messages, compositions based rather on tranquil scenes---a sincere approach to painting to which all people can relate. . . .I like to devote time to the color of things as the sun creates them."


Les Krantz, American Artists: An Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporary Americans

Jerry Crimmins, "Impressionist painter Richard Earl Thompson", Chicago Tribune obituary, August 1991. Submitted by Joan Thompson


Hazy Koenen, "Richard Thompson Gallery Grand Opening Exhibit", San Francisco Focus, November, 1977

Art Voices Editor, "Editorial Profile", Art Voices South, May/June, 1978

Hazy Koenen, "A Sincere Approach to Painting", Southwest Art, October, 1978

Hazy Koenen, "Impressions of Tranquility", Country Gentlemen, Fall, 1979

Southwest Editors, "Editorial Profile", Southwest Art, May, 1981

Richard Thompson Gallery, "Richard Earl Thompson – America’s Foremost Impressionist," Lively Arts, June/July 1982

Patricia Jobe Pierce, "Richard Earl Thompson at Norton Art Gallery," Shreveport, LA, Southwest Art, October 1982

Richard Thompson Gallery, "Richard Earl Thompson – America’s Foremost Impressionist", Lively Arts & Fine Arts, Oct/Nov, 1984

George Dixon, "Richard Earl Thompson – Even From the Florida Keys", There’s No Place Like Home, Wisconsin, Midwest Art, Sep/Oct, 1984

John Manson, "Richard Earl Thompson, American Impressionist", Western Art Digest, Sep/Oct, 1986

Patricia Jobe Pierce, "An American Impressionist, Richard Earl Thompson", International Fine Art Collector, Premiere Issue, 1990

Editorial Profile, Richard Earl and Robert Frost, "Two Great American Artists", At The Lake, Winter, 2003

Susan Hallsten McGarry, "Richard Earl Thompson, Seasons of Light", American Art Review, April, 2005

PERIODICAL REFERENCES                   

Melicent Bachman, Journal Correspondent, "Thompson Paints Man in Nature", The Milwaukee Journal, November, 1966

Don Lewis, Journal Staff, "Outdoor Scenes Tone Thompson Show at Veldman Galleries", The Milwaukee Journal, December, 1969

Don Key, Journal Art Editor, "Thompson Paintings Capture Iberian Moods", The Milwaukee Journal, November, 1972

James Auer, Journal Art Editor, "Light Filled World of Richard Thompson", The Milwaukee Journal, October, 1973

James Auer, Journal Art Editor, "A Painting by the Famous American Impressionist Richard Thompson will be Dedicated in our Galleries at Wisconsin Memorial Park", The Milwaukee Journal, November, 1978

Art Antique & Collectors Mart Editor, "Richard Thompson, An American Impressionist", Antique & Collectors Mart, December, 1979

James Auer, Journal Art Editor, "Wisconsin’s Monet – The World Of Light is Endless", The Milwaukee Journal, July, 1979

Lane Crockett, Times Art Editor, "His Painting Did Pay Off", The Times, Shreveport, LA, 1982

Ron Varela, "Richard Earl Thompson: A Lasting Impressionist", Antique & Collectors Mart, August, 1983

Art-Talk Editors, "Peacock Galleries to Hold Open House & Autograph Party For Impressionists", Art-Talk, February,1984

Danny Medina, "Richard Earl Thompson, The Grand Man of Impression", Art-Talk, February, 1985

Key Editor, "One of America’s Greatest Impressionist Presents New Work", Key Magazine, October, 1987

James Auer, Journal Art Editor, "Impressionism, Togetherness, Indian Heritage for Viewers", The Milwaukee Journal, July 1990    

Danny Medina, "Richard Earl Thompson, The Master of Light", Art-Talk, March, 1994

Rick LaFrombois, "Woodson Exhibit to Feature Impressionist Artist’s Work", Wausau Daily Herald, April 2005

Jennifer Flowers, "Impressionist Exhibit on Display at Norton Gallery", The Times, Shreveport, LA, September, 2005

Art Editor, Art: "Let There Be Light, Impressionist Richard Earl Thompson on Display at Norton", Forum News, September, 2005

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Twentieth-century landscape impressionist, Richard Earl Thompson studied in Chicago at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1930-31) and the American Academy of Art (1932-1933) and the Chicago Art Institute (1935-1937). He was instructor of art at the American Academy of Art before he became a free-lance illustrator during the Great Depression for Anheuser-Busch, Standard Oil and Miller Brewing Company.

Leaving commercial art to paint outdoors, he had his first solo exhibition at the Guildhall Galleries of Chicago (1959), and others followed at the Grinnel Galleries (IL), Art Originals Gallery (Milwaukee), Harriett Crane Galleries (OH) The Gallery (Palm Beach), J.P. Kelp Gallery (TX) and elsewhere.

Although critics called him "Wisconsin's Monet," he preferred to be his own man and did not want to be so categorized. Remaining somewhat of a recluse in order to find enough time to paint everyday, he was a member of the Palette and Chisel Club (Chicago) and the Salmagundi Club (NY). His solo museum shows include the Berstorm Art Center, Neenah, WS; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WS; the R.W. Norton Gallery, Shreveport, LA.

Until his death in 1991, Thompson maintained studios in Wisconsin and Florida and his son and namesake ran a thriving gallery that featured Richard Earl Thompson's work in San Francisco from 1977 until 1995.

Pierce, Patricia Jobe, Richard Earl Thompson, American Impressionist  (San Francisco: Richard-Earl Publications, 1982) and a video by the same title, written & directed by Patricia Jobe Pierce (Whittier, CA: Findley Holiday Films, 1991).

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