(1868 - 1913)
Charles Roswell Bacon was active/lived in New York. Charles Bacon is known for landscape, genre painting, design.
Biography from the Archives of askART
The landscape and figure painter Charles Roswell Bacon was the talented
and colorful father of Peggy Bacon (1875-1957), the well-known 20th
century painter, poet, printmaker, author and illustrator. A
native of New York, he met his wife Elizabeth Chase at the newly-formed
Art Students League in New York where they took classes under Kenyon
Cox before heading off to Paris to study for a year under Lefebvre and
Collin. Upon their return, they married and settled for awhile in
Ridgefield, Connecticut where they started a family. Their first
child, Peggy, was followed by two boys who died in infancy. This
left Peggy as an only child.
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The three of them thus became a very tight-knit family - something
Peggy Bacon described with tremendous enthusiasm when she was
interviewed by Pau Cummings for the Archives of American Art artist
interview project in 1973. She told Cummings that her parents
"were professionals" and provided an important sketch of her father's
artist interests and personality: Father…had exhibitions in New York at
the Fulton Gallery and at the Milch Gallery. We spent certain
winters in New York when I was a child. He took me around to
galleries. Then we lived in France for a couple of years, at
Montreaux-sur-Mer in Picardy. It was absolutely delightful.
I had the most charming and amusing parents. We led a very close
life together. There was a great deal of reading aloud.
They were both very well read. They were passionate readers of
Henry James as fast as his novels came out. Every evening there
was reading aloud. Well, it was a lovely life, really.
Well, Father was very gregarious."
Because he and his wife traveled so much in connection with their
interests and careers, Charles Bacon hired private tutors for their
daughter. Peggy Bacon recalls never having set foot in a school,
speculating that back then, private tutors could not have been very
expensive since "Mother and Father were never very affluent.
That's putting it mildly. As I recall, all my life we had an
extraordinary amount of amenities and delicacies even and delights
considering that they were poverty stricken. The food was
marvelous, very gourmet food. And there were quantities of books,
endless books arriving. And a great deal of charm. They were
people of taste. Father was very well-read in French. He
spoke French so well that French people mistook him for a
Frenchman. And yet he had no schooling from the age of ten."
Figure painting by Charles Bacon is characteristic of the lyrical,
impressionistic palette the artist adopted after his exposure to the
work of Whistler and even more directly to the work of the American
painter, Theodore Robinson. On one of his early trips to France,
Bacon lived and painted for an extended period in Giverny, the home of
Claude Monet, alongside Robinson who became an intimate friend and
Despite his success as an artist, Charles Bacon suffered from severe
depression - the same illness which led his father, Otto Bacon, an
importer of marble, to drink himself to death after the failure of his
business. Several months after the Armory Show, Charles Bacon
took his own life in his studio, which was crammed with many unfinished
canvases. Among his close friends was the successful illustrator,
Ernest Peixotto, who wrote a beautiful celebration of Charles Bacon,
the man and the artist, in the catalogue accompanying the memorial
exhibition and public sale of Bacon's work at the Metropolitan Art
Association Anderson Galleries on January 19 and 20, 1914:
"The Art of Charles Roswell Bacon was, pre-eminently, the art of a
colorist, of a lover of gamuts of pearly grays and the blonder
harmonies of sunlight and sky. In this love of color lay the
delightful breeziness and out-door felling of his landscapes and the
subtle grays and Whistlerian reticence of his interiors…In their
sketchiness (Bacon's canvases) much resemble the work of John
Twachtman, whose splendid achievement has only come into its own since
his death. There was much in common in the personality of these
two men - in their great personal charm that made warm friends and held
them - the quality that the Latins call simpatico; and that it was,
that gave to their work its emotional, delicate feeling."
Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, researcher of early American Art.
Biographical Information: "Interview with Peggy Bacon conducted by Paul
Cummings," at the artist's home in Cape Porpoise, Maine, May 8, 1973;
Artists Oral Histories, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian
Institution, Washington, D.C. Written by Heritage Galleries,
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