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Boardman Robinson

 (1876 - 1952)
Boardman Michael Robinson was active/lived in New York, California, Colorado, Nova Scotia / Canada.  Boardman Robinson is known for genre, landscape, and figure easel and mural painting, teaching.

Boardman Robinson

Biography from the Archives of askART

Boardman Robinson, noted for his cartoons, paintings, and murals, was born in 1876 in Somerset, Nova Scotia, Canada.  His childhood years were spent in Wales, but he later moved to the United States to attend the Massachusetts Art School.  Robinson then studied in Paris where he was influenced by the political cartoonist Honore Daumier.  He returned to New York City and became famous as a cartoonist and illustrator for various newspapers and magazines, including Harpers, the Tribune, The New York Times, and the New York Morning Telegraph.

Robinson's black crayon with ink washes was his distinctive style, and he established the grease crayon as a potent implement for drawing editorial cartoons. Approximating the soft-line multi-shade effect of lithography*, the technique was immediately adopted by such other cartoonists as Rollin Kirby, Clive Weed, and Oscar Cesare.

Robinson went to Russia in 1915 with John Reed to view the Revolution, leaving a remunerative position with the New York Tribune. When he returned, he taught at the Art Students League* in New York, influencing another generation of cartoonists, including Edmund Duffy.

Described as a large, burly, sea captain sort of character, with 'Mike' as his popular nickname, Robinson became involved in various political causes.  He became a supporter of the Suffragist, a magazine supporting the Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage.  Many of Robinson's cartoons were published in The Masses, a radical journal printed during World War I.  He was charged with violating the Espionage Act when the U.S. government objected to his cartoons.  Later he became contributing editor to a radical journal established by Max Eastman called The Liberator.

After teaching at the Art Students League in New York City from 1919 to 1930, Robinson later founded and directed the Broadmoor Academy* later renamed the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.  Along with his cartoons, he is equally known for the mural paintings he executed at the Rockefeller Center.

Pikes Peak Vision, Editor, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary at


Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Somerset, Nova Scotia on Sept. 6, 1876, Boardman Robinson studied art at the Massachusetts Normal Art School and in Paris where he met sculptress Sarah Whitney.  He followed her to California and was active in San Francisco in 1900-02.

While there, he was associated with Bruce Porter doing stained-glass windows.  The couple returned to Paris and were wed there in 1903.  He spent 1907-30 in NYC as a cartoonist for the Morning Telegraph and Tribune; After that time he was director of the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs.

Robinson died in Noroton, CT on Sept. 5, 1952.

Exhibitions: SFAA, 1901; Calif. Society of Artists, 1902; PPIE, 1915; PAFA, 1926; ASL (NYC), 1929 (solo); CPLH, 1932 (solo); De Young Museum, 1943.

Collections: LACMA; Library of Congress; Smithsonian Inst.; MM; Univ. of Arizona Museum; Wichita Museum; Dept of Justice (Washington, DC); Fogg Museum (Harvard).

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SF Chronicle, 12-20-1903; American Art Annual 1913-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-47; NY Times, 9-7-1952 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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About  Boardman Robinson

Born:  1876 - Somerset, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died:   1952 - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Known for:  genre, landscape, and figure easel and mural painting, teaching