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 William Alexander Griffith  (1866 - 1940)

About: William Alexander Griffith


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Lived/Active: Kansas/California      Known for: landscape, figure, portrait, marine

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BIOGRAPHY for William Griffith
1866 (Lawrence, Kansas)
1940 (Laguna Beach, California)


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landscape, figure, portrait, marine

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Biography as found in Artists in California 1876-1940 by Edan Hughes, courtesy of DeRu's Fine Arts

William Griffith was born in Lawrence, Kansas on August 19, 1866. He studied art at the Washington University in St. Louis and in 1890 furthered his art studies in Paris at Academie Julian under Constant and Lefebvre. Returning to his native state, he taught art for over 20 years at Kansas University. In 1918, while on a sabbatical leave, he visited his old friend and former classmate, Benjamin Chambers Brown in Laguna Beach. Two years later Griffith moved to Laguna Beach where he became an influential member of the art colony and served as president of the local art association.

Before his move to California, he painted many portraits, but soon turned his attention to the surrounding landscape. Working in oil and pastel, Griffith also painted many beach scenes and marines. He died in Laguna Beach on May 25, 1940.
Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Annual Exhibition of the Artists of Kansas City and Vicinity, 1915; Annual Exhibition of the Artists of Kansas City and Vicinity, 1920; Oceanside Museum of Art, 1999.
Laguna Beach Art Association; Los Angeles Painters & Sculptors.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Lawrence, Aug. 19, 1866; died Laguna Beach, CA, May 25, 1940. Painter. Lecturer. Educated in Emporia and at Washington University, St. Louis in the 1880's. Studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and in Paris in 1892-93 at the Academiť Julian under Jules Lefebvre and Benjamin Constant. Worked as an art instructor at Washburn College, Topeka 1895-96, at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts 1896-99, and was head of the Art Dept. at the University of Kansas, Lawrence from 1899- 1920. Griffith moved to Laguna Beach, CA in 1920 where he joined the Laguna Beach Art Colony. Through his personal efforts, the University of Kansas obtained the art collection of Sallie Casey Thayer (Mrs. William born Thayer) of Kansas City.
Honor key from Delta Phi Delta, 1930; Wyman Crow gold medal, St. Louis, 1899; 1st prize Orange Country Fair, Riverside, 1928; 1st prize, California Artists, Santa Cruz, 1929; 2nd prize, Annual Exhibition of the California Art Club, 1934; 1st prize, Ebell C. Los Angeles, 1936; Honorable mention, Oakland Art Gallery, 1936.

?Mount Oread? Mulvane Art Museum Topeka; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence; University Club, San Diego; University of Southern CA; Santa Ana, CA. YMCA; High schools in Santa Ana, Corona, Burbank, Long Beach & Laguna Beach, CA.; Spencer Museum of Art; Irvine Museum; USC Fischer Museum

Laguna Beach Art Association; Los Angeles Painters & Sculptors.

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Newlin, Gertrude Dix (Development of Art in Kansas. Typed Manuscript, 1951); Kansas State Gazetteer and Business Directory. Detroit: R.L. Polk & Co. (v.1= 1878-9 v.5= 1886 v.9= 1900) (v.2= 1880 v.6= 1888-89 v.10= 1904) (v.3= 1882-83 v.7= 1891 v.11= 1908) (v.4= 1884-85 v.8= 1894 v.12= 1912) 1894; Reinbach, Edna, comp. ?Kansas Art and Artists?, in Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society. v. 17, 1928. p. 571-585.; American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-1947 12, 20, 22, 24, 26 27; Who?s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 1, 2, 3; Fielding, Mantle. Mantle Fielding?s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, with an Addendum containing Corrections and Additional Material on the Original Entries. Compiled by James F. Carr. New York: James F. Carr Publ., 1965.; Annual Exhibition KCAI 1915, 1920; Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: a Historical Guide to America?s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.; Julian; AskArt,, accessed Dec. 16, 2005; KU Archives File (Faculty & Staff at the University of Kansas, card catalog file located in the Spencer Research Library); Dawdy 3: Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Volume 3. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1985..
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
William Griffith was born in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1866, and studied art at Washington University in St. Louis. Griffith also studied at the Academie Julian in Paris, before returning to the U.S. for a teaching position at Kansas University that would keep him busy for the next 20 years.

In 1918, Griffith first visited Southern California, and two years later moved to Laguna Beach, where he served as President of the Laguna Beach Art Association. Griffith was captivated by the beauty of his new surroundings, and he was a prolific landscape and coastal painter until his death in 1940.

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