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 George Bernard Butler, Jr.  (1838 - 1907)

About: George Bernard Butler, Jr.


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Lived/Active: New York/California / Italy/France      Known for: animal, Italian peasant, portrait and figure painting

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BIOGRAPHY for George Butler, Jr.
1838 (New York City)
1907 (Croton Falls, New York)

New York/California / Italy/France

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animal, Italian peasant, portrait and figure painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter known especially for animal and Italian peasant subjects, George Bernard Butler, Jr. was a member of the National Academy of Design*, becoming an Associate in 1871 and a full member in 1873.  He studied in New York with Thomas Hicks, and in 1859 went to France where he was a student of Thomas Couture.  However, the Civil War meant that he needed to return to America, and he joined New York's Seventh Infantry in 1861.  Two years later as a participant in the Battle of Gettysburg, he lost his right arm.  "Fortunately he had always painted with his left hand."

Shortly after that he was in California with his wife, Emily Buttersworth, who died in 1866.  He returned to Europe and studied in Germany with Otto Weber (1832-1888), and in France with Thomas Couture.   During this period, he began sending animal paintings to the Academy for exhibitions.  In 1869, he returned to work in New York City, but six years later was again in Europe, working in Italy and studying with James McNeill Whistler in Venice. 

He married Concetta Salvia, and they established a home on the Isle of Capri.  He submitted a cat painting to the Exposition Universelle* in Paris in 1878 and received favorable reviews.  But his interest turned increasingly from animals to Italian peasants, a subject he pursued in much of the remainder of his career.  He also did portrait and other figure subjects, but they did not find much market popularity.

In 1886, he and his family returned to New York state, settling near Croton Falls.  In 1896, he tried to resign from the Academy for unknown reasons but the resignation was not accepted.  His exhibition participation diminished, and 1907 was the last year his work appeared in one of the exhibits, following a hiatus of seven years.

He died at age 69 at his home in Croton Falls.

John Davis, "George Bernard Butler, Jr.", Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of The National Academy of Design, p. 77


* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
Painter. Born in NYC on Feb. 8, 1838. Butler studied with Thomas Hicks in NYC and had further study in Paris under Couture. After losing his right arm while serving in the Seventh Regiment during the Civil War, Butler divided the years 1865-74 between his studios in NYC and San Francisco. In 1875 he went to Italy where he remained for several years. A painter of portraits, genre, and still lifes, he is best known for his animal subjects. Butler died at his home in Croton Falls, NY on May 4, 1907. Member: NA, 1873. Exh: Mechanics Inst. (SF), 1868; SFAA, 1872-81; NAD; Paris Expo, 1889. In: MM. ] G&W; Overland Monthly, July 1868; AAA 1907; NY Times, 5-6-1907 (obit).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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