Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Charles Grafly

 (1862 - 1929)
Charles Allan Grafly was active/lived in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts.  Charles Grafly is known for male portrait bust and commemorative sculpture.

Charles Grafly

Biography from the Archives of askART

A native of Philadelphia, Charles Grafly has been called the "foremost American sculptor of male portrait busts." (Reynolds, 146). It has also been written that "Most important of all, . . .he sought to find the true person within, which was even more elusive." (Reynolds, 178).

Grafly also did life-size figures including ones for the Philadelphia "Smith Monument", a tribute to Civil War soldiers.  However, early in his career, he focused on idealistic and allegorical subjects.  In the Paris Exposition of 1900, he won a Gold Medal for the Vulture of War, and for the Pan American Exposition of 1901, he did the Fountain of Men, an allegorical depiction representing the five senses.  For the Custom's House in New York, he did a series of personification figures of France and England, but upon completion of that project in 1905, he switched to his signature portraiture.

Grafly was known for his analysis of the personalities of his subjects, and he strove to convey their true presence so that nothing interfered with the viewer's interaction with the portrait.  It is said that he sketched every day, and he recounted to his daughter that when he and Robert Henri went to France together, they started the day by using each other as sketch subjects.

He spent most of his life in Philadelphia excepting regular summer vacations to Gloucester, Massachusetts.  He began his career by apprenticing in Struther's stone monumentshop where he carved many bits of sculpture for Philadelphia City Hall.  In 1884, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy, and studied anatomy with Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz.

In 1888, Grafly went to Paris to the Julian Academy and the Ecole des Beaux Arts.  For many years, he taught at the Pennsylvania Academy and at Drexel Institute.  He was a founder of the National Sculpture Society and became noted for his portrait busts.

Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture
Steven Law, Sculptors of Cape Ann, American Art Review, October 1997

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Charles Grafly

Born:  1862 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died:   1929
Known for:  male portrait bust and commemorative sculpture