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 Richard Edward (Emil) Miller  (1875 - 1943)

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Lived/Active: New Hampshire/Massachusetts/California/Florida/Mis / France      Known for: figure-female, portrait, landscape

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BIOGRAPHY for Richard Edward (Emil) Miller
Facts/Data
Birth
1875 (St. Louis, Missouri)
 
Death
1943 (St. Augustine, Florida)

Lived/Active
New Hampshire/Massachusetts/California/Florida/Mis / France


Self portrait - Self-portrait


Often Known For
figure-female, portrait, landscape

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Categories of Interest

Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Paris Pre 1900
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A plein-air and impressionist painter as well as illustrator, Richard Miller was especially known for his paintings of female figures in sunlit interiors.  He was part of the American art colony in Paris during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, staying from 1898 to 1914 when World War I began.  His reputation in France was so distinguished that he was made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor.

Returning to the United States, he taught at the Stickney School in Pasadena, California from 1915 to 1917 and was a member of the California Art Club, dedicated to "plein-air" painting.  He then became a prominent painter in Provincetown, Massachusetts and Provincetown, Rhode Island where, as a teacher at the Mary Wheeler School, he took students to Giverny, France for many successive summers.

Miller's early painting was tonalistic, and included a series of night scenes of Paris, but his association with Frederic Frieseke lightened his palette and placed him among the American Impressionists in France.  Miller's "favorite color combinations are juxtapositions of greens and purples . . .(Gerdts 270)

He was born in St. Louis, Missouri and began the study of art at age 10.  From 1893 to 1897, he attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and then got a job as illustration artist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  He earned a scholarship to go to Paris in 1898, and studied at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens.  In 1901, he became a teacher at the rival school, the Academie Colarossi.

In Paris his good friends were artists who, like Miller, became well-known in American art circles--Guy Rose, Frederick Frieseke, and Lawton Parker.  They painted together at Giverny and socialized with Claude Monet at his home.

He died in 1943 in St. Augustine, Florida.

Source:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
William Gerdts, American Impressionism
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from MB Fine Art, LLC:
Recognized as one of the leading members of the Anglo-American art colony in Giverny, France, Richard Miller garnered widespread international acclaim for his depictions of women. A popular and highly influential teacher, Miller also played an important role in the dissemination of Impressionism in Southern California. His aesthetic, distinguished by an emphasis on pattern, line, and bold color contrasts, exemplifies the decorative direction that Impressionism took during the early twentieth century.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Miller studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts from 1893 until 1897. Following this, he worked briefly as an artist-reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In 1899 he received a scholarship to attend the Académie Julian in Paris. There, Miller concentrated on the rendering of the figure, refining his draftsmanship under the direction of the academic painters Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant.

In 1901, his studies at Julian's completed, Miller began teaching at a rival art school, the Académie Colarossi. During this period, Miller specialized in portraits and Dutch peasant subjects as well as depictions of attractive women amidst luxurious surroundings. Stylistically, he favored a muted, tonal palette and firm draftsmanship. Miller was also inspired by the prevailing interest in Japonisme; his studio was filled with an ample collection of kimonos, parasols, fans, ceramics, and other accouterments. Around 1905, he produced a series of night scenes, focusing on cafe life and views of Parisian boulevards.

Miller won gold medals at the Paris Salons of 1901 and 1904. In 1905, he received a medal at the Liege World's Fair and a year later, he was appointed a Knight of the French Legion of Honor. His reputation in France was further enhanced in 1907, when his Vielle Hollandaise was purchased by the French government for the Luxembourg Museum.

During the early 1900s, Miller began conducting summer painting classes in Giverny. Located about thirty miles northwest of Paris, the village had been a popular gathering place for American artists since the late 1880s. The majority of Miller's students were from Mary Wheeler's school in Providence, Rhode Island. He also taught occasionally in St. Jean du Doight in Brittany; however, he spent the majority of his time in Giverny.

Miller continued his affiliation with the Académie Colarossi until 1906. Although his precise chronological development has yet to be established, he appears to have turned to Impressionism during that same year. As was the case with other many of his fellow American Givernois, such as Frederick Frieseke, Guy Rose, Lawton Parker, and Louis Ritman. Miller portrayed elegant young women in quiet, sun-dappled interiors or in lush flower gardens. Contemporary critics soon identified Miller and Frieseke as the foremost members of the Giverny colony and compared their work accordingly. Commentators noted that although the two men shared the same subject matter, and often the same models and props, Miller's work was distinguished by its monumentality, its strong sense of design, and its vivid color contrasts. In Miller's view, "art's mission . . . [was] not literary, the telling of a story, but decorative, the conveying of a pleasant optical sensation." 1

In 1909, both Miller and Frieseke had rooms devoted to their work at the Venice Biennale. In December of 1910, Miller, Frieseke, Guy Rose, and Lawton Parker exhibited together at New York's Madison Gallery and were subsequently identified in the press as the "Giverny Group." In one review, the noted critic James Huneker described Miller's interiors as "cool and graceful," his women "delicate and mysterious." 2

Miller remained in Giverny until late 1914, when the dangers imposed by the first world war forced him to return to America. He lived briefly in New York City and then in St. Louis before settling in Pasadena, California in 1916. During the next two years, Miller taught and gave criticism at the Stickney Memorial School of Art and in so doing played an important role in the dissemination of Impressionist precepts throughout Southern California. During this period, he continued to paint female figures in sun-dappled settings, often working in the formal gardens adjacent to the home and studio of Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes, one of his students at the Stickley School. In 1918, Miller moved permanently to Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he was one of the more prominent figures in the local artists' colony. From 1919 until 1923, he painted a series of murals for the State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri. In his later years, Miller painted marine subjects.

Miller held memberships in the American Art Association of Paris; the International Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers; the National Academy of Design, the North Shore Arts Association; the Paris Society of American Painters, and the St. Louis Artists' Guild, among many others.

Richard Miller died in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1963. His paintings can be found in major public collections throughout the United States and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the St. Louis Art Museum; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Musée d'Orsay, Paris; the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; the Museo de Arte Moderna, Venice; the Royal Museum, Oslo; and the collection of the King of Italy.

Biography from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia:
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1875, at an early age Miller began to show his innate ability to draw by making portraits of his family.  His formal training in art started in 1891, when he enrolled in the St. Louis School of Fine Arts’ night schoo l.  There he studied mostly with European-trained faculty such as Edmund Wuerpel. While still a student, Miller had his work accepted into the 1895 and 1896 St. Louis Expositions, where he was able to exhibit alongside Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, James McNeill Whistler and Claude Monet.(1) 

In 1897, Miller joined a group of artists who banded together to exhibit, and at the same time went to work as an artist at the St. Louis Post Dispatch.(2)  In 1898, a scholarship enabled him to travel to Paris where he soon enrolled in the Académie Julien under Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens.  By 1905, Miller’s work was evolving from the conservative, academic paintings of his youth into a much more colorful and spontaneous presence, possibly gleaned from seeing the first Fauve exhibition at the Salon d’Automne and after visiting Joaquin Sorolla’s first one-man show in Paris.(3)  The French en plein-air painters influenced Miller strongly.  He is allied with the Impressionists as draftsman, technician and colorist. Miller once stated that “art’s mission is not literary, the telling of a story, but decorative, the conveying of a pleasant optical sensation,” and that his pictures were meant to be hung not in public galleries but in “the modern homes, the urban apartments and the country cottage.”(4)

By 1907, Miller was regularly summering in Giverny, the home of Claude Monet, with Edmund Graecen, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Guy Rose and Lawton Parker, but the proximity to Monet’s great garden apparently did not inspire Miller to focus on the landscape about him.(5) 

By 1910, Miller had set upon the style that he would be known best for: vigorous brushstrokes and individual color with scenes of young women, in pairs or singular, in interiors.(6)  That same year he exhibited with Rose, Parker and Frieseke at the Madison Gallery in New York City, and two years later Miller had his first one-man show at the Macbeth Gallery.  One critic, Clara MacChesney, felt that Miller found his “high water mark” in 1914.(7) 

With the outbreak of the First World War in August of 1914, Miller was forced to leave France and return to the United States. By 1916, he had settled in Pasadena, California, where he taught at the Stickney Memorial School of Art.  Two years later, he moved permanently to Provincetown, Massachusetts.  At the famous art colony, he helped found, he taught art classes and concentrated on images of women in gardens, sunlit interiors and marine scenes in the Impressionist style well into the 1930s’s.  Miller also painted murals for the State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri between 1919 and 1923.
Footnotes:
1. Marie Louise Kane, A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller (New York: Jordan-Volpe Gallery, 1997), 9.
2. The Society of Western Artists was a group of Midwestern artists who felt excluded from eastern shows.
3. Kane, 23.
4. Michael David Zellman, editor, American Art Analog (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986), 764.
5. Kane, 26.
6. Kane, 30.
7. Clara T. MacChesney, “American Artists in Paris,” International Studio, 54 (November 1914), xxiv. Museums purchasing his work at this time included the Albright Art Gallery (now the Albright-Knox Museum of Art), Syracuse Museum of Fine Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Submitted by the Staff of the Columbus Museum

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