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Lawton Silas Parker

 (1868 - 1954)
Lawton Silas Parker was active/lived in Illinois, California / France.  Lawton Parker is known for figure-nude, portrait and landscape painting, teaching.

Lawton Silas Parker

Biography from the Archives of askART

A part of the resident group of Impressionists called the Giverny Group in the early 20th century, Lawton Parker was among the better known Americans that lived at Giverny near the studio-home of Claude Monet.

Under this influence, he, with solid academic training, made the transition from a career primarily focused on portrait painting to figures in landscapes. Although he was labelled an Impressionist, he stayed much closer to nature in his coloration than many of his peers in this style.

He depicted his subjects in sunlight to get the effect of the light at various angles on the figures, often nude females. "His flesh tones, so conventional when seen in the subdued light of his studio, became refreshingly alive when seen in this new environment" (Zellman).

In 1913, he was awarded the first medal of The Society of French Artists, which was remarkable for an American.

He was born in Fairfield, Michigan and first studied at the Chicago Art Institute and in 1889 went to Paris where he enrolled at the Academie Julian with William Bouguereau, Robert Fleury and later with James Whistler. He returned to New York and attended the Art Students League as a student of William Merritt Chase and Henry Siddons Mowbray and then returned to Paris for training in mural painting. In 1897, he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts with Jean Leon Gerome.

He had intermittent teaching positions including the St. Louis School of Fine Arts in 1892 and the Chicago Fine Arts Academy. In Paris, he ran the Parker Academy, his own school of painting.

He arrived in Giverny and became close friends with Guy Rose, Frederick Frieseke, and Richard Miller, who were also in residence there, and eventually they exhibited together in New York City, sometimes referring to themselves at The Luminists.

During World War II, Parker was held in Paris for two years by the Nazi regime until he, wearing peasant disguise, escaped into unoccupied territory. During this time, his home in Giverny was destroyed along with many of his paintings. He died in Pasadena, California in 1954.

Biography from R.H. Love Galleries
During his youth as a farm boy near Kearney, Nebraska, Lawton Parker's talents were first recognized. In response to an amateur art competition announced in 1886 by a Dr. Gray in the pages of his religious magazine, "Interior", young Parker sent a sketch to Chicago where it was awarded first prize. Lawton's father was persuaded to allow him a period of free art instruction under John H. Vanderpoel, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1888 the aspiring painter set sail for France. In Paris he passed the strict entrance exam to enroll in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which meant that he had an excellent knowledge of both the French language and French history, as well as ancient history and some mythology. Parker listed his teachers as Bouguereau and the more sympathetic Tony Robert-Fleury. Shortly, however, the lure of the more progressive type of art and perhaps a basic need to be around Americans prompted him to enroll at the private but competitive Académie Julian. Parker exhibited a portrait in the Salon of 1890.

Back in New York, Parker became a pupil at the Art Students League but before long he accepted a position as instructor at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. After a year, however, he accepted a more lucrative post as director of Fine Arts at Beloit College in Wisconsin. He began his duties there in 1893 and remained for two years. He returned to the Art Students League where he received the John Armstrong Chandler European Scholarship, which amounted to $5,000. This allowed him to return to Paris where he received more prizes. Albert Besnard (1849-1934), then one of France's important painters, requested that Parker assist him in the mural decoration of the Cazin Hospital at Berck-sur-Mer, just south of Etaples on the English Channel, then by 1898 he was ready to return home to America.

Parker was appointed president of the New York School of Art (Chase School) but in his typical restless manner, he kept the appointment only one year and returned to Paris where he founded the Parker Academy, which from most accounts was reasonably successful for a short time. In any case, he was in a position to have his parents reside with him in Paris, an experience enthusiastically recounted by his mother in later years. It was also the beginning of a series of trips to Madrid where Parker spent many hours studying in the Prado Museum. In 1901, Parker accepted a teaching job at the Art Institute of Chicago. While in Chicago, he received the message that his stunning, Sargentesque full-length Portrait of Mrs. Leonard Wood had received a third-class medal in the 1902 Paris Salon.

When Parker moved to Giverny not far from Monet's estate, any personal reluctance to convert to impressionism was abandoned. He met Frederick Frieseke and soon shared the well known walled garden, which served as a backdrop and setting for so many of his paintings. Parker was an important member of this so-called "third generation" of American expatriates. He made an ample income from portraits and won a gold medal from the Société des Artistes Français for his masterpiece, La Paresse (Idleness; location unknown) at the Salon. Finally, settled in California, Parker purchased a residence along the Upper Aroyo and resumed painting. His works were exhibited at the Pasadena Art Institute in the spring of 1945. His remaining years were spent creatively but with little notice and he died at the age of eighty-six.

Love, Richard H. and Danny Miller. Lawton Parker 1868-1954. Works on Paper. Chicago: Haase-Mumm, 1995.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Santa Monica
Lawton Parker was born in Fairfield, Michigan in 1868, and studied at the Chicago Art Institute. In 1889 Parker made his first trip to Paris to enroll at the Academie Julian. Parker returned to the States to study at the Art Students League, followed by the study mural painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, back in Paris.

Parker held various teaching positions in Paris and the U.S., and in 1902 settled in Giverny, befriending a group of American painters also living there. Living and painting among Guy Rose, Alson Clark, and Frederick Frieseke, Parker's training as a portraitist served him well as he turned his attentions to Figurative paintings. His contemplative subjects set in Impressionist landscapes were tremendously well received. In 1913 Parker was awarded the first medal of The Society of French Artists.

Biography from Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Lawton Parker studied at Acadamie Julian from 1889-90 and 1896-98, as well as Art Students League in between those years. He also studied in Paris with Whistler and was one of the few American artists who lived and worked near Monet's studio-home in Giverny.

Parker worked en-plein-air, the Impressionistic technique of painting outdoors to capture particular times of day and light changes. His work shows a variety of color when viewed at different angles in relation to the sun. In 1913 he was the first American awarded the coveted gold medal at the Paris Salon.

Parker was seasoned professor, teaching at St. Louis School of Fine Art (1892) and New York Art School (1898-99) before opening his own academy of painting in Paris in 1900.

He died in 1954.

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About  Lawton Silas Parker

Born:  1868 - Fairfield, Michigan
Died:   1954 - Pasadena, California
Known for:  figure-nude, portrait and landscape painting, teaching