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 John Steeple Davis  (1844 - 1917)

About: John Steeple Davis


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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: portrait and genre painting, illustration, bank note engraver

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BIOGRAPHY for John Davis
1844 (Parkridge, England)
1917 (Brooklyn, New York)

New York

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portrait and genre painting, illustration, bank note engraver

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John Steeple Davis, a noted New York artist and illustrator, was born February 1, 1844 in the Penkridge district of Birmingham, England.  He was the son of John W. Davis, a tailor, and Charlotte Steeple Davis.  The family immigrated to the United States in 1849.  Davis initially worked as an artist/engraver for the American Bank Note Company in New York City until May 4, 1861 when he joined the Ninth New York Volunteers (Hawkin’s Zouaves) and fought in the Civil War until his discharge in May of 1863.
On June 13, 1865 he married Martha Louise Watson in St. Stephens Church in Brooklyn, New York; the couple was to have ten children.  One of his sons – John Watson Davis (1870-1959), was also a noted and prolific commercial artist and illustrator who worked with Zane Grey novels and Sherlock Holmes tales.
John Steeple Davis went to France in the late 1870’s, seeking additional artistic study in the studio of Jean Leon Gerome, among others. While living in France his work was selected for exhibit at the Paris Salon in 1878 and 1880.  He was also an exhibitor at the Paris Exposition in 1900 in addition to being the representative of American Artists of the United States that same year.  Davis also showed his work in the United States at the National Academy of Design exhibitions in 1878 through 1881.
Davis painted the portrait of Horace Greeley which hung in the corridor of the Tribune building in New York for many years.  He was also the illustrator for The Standard History of the United States and for the Story of the Greater Nations.
The artist died on December 6, 1917 in Brooklyn and was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in New York.
Biographical information from Mr. Warren Davis and the artist’s obituary. 

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Historian, East Lansing, Michigan

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