(1886 - 1968)
Walter Biggs was active/lived in New York, Virginia. Walter Biggs is known for magazine illustration, still-life and southern genre painting.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Elliston, Virginia, Walter Biggs spent his childhood there and
became an artist of much pride to his region. He has been
described as representing "the South at its best, both as a gentleman
and as an artist who painted the South with sensitive artistry and
poetic nostalgia." (Reed 134) He also became known for his
magazine illustrations including for Harper's, Scribner's, Good Housekeeping, and The Ladies' Home Journal, and as a painter, his style and subject matter reflected the AshCan School* of Social Realism*.
Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery
He studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and then went to New York
City where he roomed with George Bellows while studying art at the
Chase School* (later named The New York School of Art). Among his
teachers were Edward Penfield, Lucius Hitchcock, Kenneth Hayes Miller
and Robert Henri, a special influence on Biggs. Fellow students
included future well-known names in American art such as Guy Pene
Dubois, Rockwell Kent and W.T. Benda.
Biggs taught at the Grand Central School of Art and the Art Students
League*. In 1963, he was elected to the Society of
Illustrators Hall of Fame. Other memberships included the
National Academy of Design*, the American Watercolor Society*, Allied
Artists of America* and the Philadelphia Water Color Club.
In 1986, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Roanoke College in Virginia.
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America 1860-2000
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
Distinguished by his Southern heritage, Walter Biggs is considered one
of the foremost American illustrators. He was born in Elliston,
Virginia, where he spent his youth before moving to the city of Salem
when he was ten. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute for
one year, but left to study art in New York City. There, he enrolled at
the Chase School (later known as the New York School of Art), studying
with William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, Luis Mora, Kenneth Hayes
Miller, and Edward Penfield.
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While a student, Biggs roomed
with George Bellows and was also acquainted with Rockwell Kent and Guy
Pène du Bois. He embraced a loose impressionistic technique and
rich colors, but cited Henri as a key influence. Daunted by the
challenge of earning a living as a painter, Biggs decided to pursue
illustration as a career and soon met with success. His colorful
illustrations appeared in such popular journals as Harper's, Redbook, Scribner's, Good Housekeeping, The Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue.
in his output, Biggs created numerous illustrations and other pieces
for his own pleasure. He most often worked in watercolor and
pursued colloquial Southern subjects, particularly street views.
Biggs' technical mastery and refined sense of narrative is clearly
evident in many scenes, as well as his particular penchant for social
realism and for conveying a feeling of the moment, clear evidence of
his study with Henri.
Biggs participated in several art
organizations, including the American Water Color Society; Philadelphia
Water Color Club; Allied Artists of America; Society of Illustrators;
National Academy of Design; and Salmagundi Club. He taught at the Grand
Central School of Art and Art Students League. The recipient of
numerous awards for his work in watercolor and oil throughout his
career, he was nominated to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in
Biggs returned to Salem in the 1950s, where he lived out
the remainder of his life; he maintained a studio in New York into the
1960s, however, and traveled there often. He left most of his work to
the city of Salem and to Roanoke College, where he was
artist-in-residence for many years.
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