(1879 - 1954)
William Henry Clapp was active/lived in California, Quebec / Canada. William Clapp is known for landscape, genre and portrait painting, etching.
Biography from the Archives of askART
A man who earned a prestigious reputation in Canada and the United States, William Henry Clapp was a painter and etcher of modernist styles ranging from Impressionism to Fauvism to Pointillism.
Biography from the Archives of askART
He was born in Montreal and moved to Oakland, California with his family in 1885 and lived there through his childhood until the early 1900s when the family returned to Montreal. His only sister died when she was age seventeen from tuberculosis, and he was so deeply affected he continued to live with his parents until their deaths.
He studied at the Montreal Art Association School with William Brymmer, the foremost teacher of the city, who, in turn, encouraged his students to study in Paris. Clapps's good friend was Clarence Gagnon, who later became a well-known expatriate painter, and they took numerous plein-air painting trips together. This experience was the first time Clapp had worked with humble, rural subjects instead of romanticized and grandiose academic subjects.
In 1904, he went to Paris with Gagnon and several other Montreal artists and fell so much under the influence of Claude Monet that some artists accused him of copying the Impressionist too closely. He was also exposed to the cutting edge of modernist movements represented by Picasso, Cezanne, and Gaughin who, among others, were just beginning to exhibit. However, his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Academie Julian were quite a contrast to these influences because the curriculum was based on old-guard methods with emphasis on classical subjects and traditional methods.
But Impressionism held the most sway over him, and returning to Montreal he was part of a group of progressive artists that changed the art of that city, and he was later credited as being one of the most significant influences. Between 1906 and 1909, he also painted in Belgium and Spain, whose sunshine had the effect of lightening his palette.
Clapp became a member of the Canadian Art Club in 1912, an exclusive society of those with the most "sophisticated" and avant-garde levels of artistic taste. During this time, he was highly productive completing many impressionist-style paintings. He encouraged experimentation in other artists and was active in 1913 in the Thirtieth Spring Exhibition of the Art Association of Montreal, which, like the Armory Show in New York, shocked the public with exhibits of modernism.
In 1915, Clapp followed his family to Cuba, where his father bought a pineapple plantation, and he sent many scenes of Cuba back to Montreal. However, a hurricane destroyed the plantation, and the family then moved to Piedmont, California where Clapp, shortly after his arrival at the age of thirty-eight, became Director of the Oakland Art Gallery from 1918 to 1949. Throughout these years, he was an aggressive force for modernism and experimentation.
As Gallery Director, he became associated with and arranged exhibitions for the Society of Six led by Seldon Gile. This group of artists banded together to create a modernist style that was uniquely about California and was a rebellion against the dominance of traditional painters Arthur Mathews and William Keith who espoused decorative and tonalist styles.
He also ran the Clapp School of Art in Oakland and had several exhibitions of his monotypes. In 1933, he married Gertrude Schroder, Secretary of the Oakland Gallery.
He was a member of the California Art Club, the Oakland Art League, and the San Francisco Art Association. His works are held in numerous institutions including the Canadian National Gallery and the Oakland Museum. He died of cancer on April 21, 1954.
Nancy Boas, "Society of Six"
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Santa Monica
Born in Montreal, Canada of American parents on Oct. 29, 1879. At age six Clapp moved to California with his family, settling in Oakland where he spent his childhood. In 1900 he returned to Montreal for four years of study with Wm Brymner followed by further study in Paris at Académies Julian, Colarossi, and Grande Chaumière. He then returned to Montreal where he was elected an associate member of the Royal Canadian Art Academy. He lived and worked in Cuba before returning to Oakland in 1917. He then served as director and curator of the Oakland Art Gallery from 1918-49. In this position, and as a member of a group of painters called the Society of Six, he arranged exhibitions of their works from 1923-28. For six years he operated the Clapp School of Art in Oakland. His early works reflect the impressionist style of Renoir; whereas, his later works are of the Pointillist style of Seurat. Clapp is as well known in Canada as he is in the U.S. He died in Oakland on
April 21, 1954.
Member: Calif. Art Club; Oakland Art League; Montreal Art Club; Pen & Pencil Club (Montreal); SFAA; AAPL. Exh: NAD; Carnegie Institute; PAFA; SFAA, 1918-19; Society of Six, 1923-28; Oakland Art Gallery, 1932; GGIE, 1939; Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), 1937; Oakland Museum, Society of Six retrospective, 1972.
In: Canadian Nat'l
Gallery; Ontario Provincial Gov't; Montreal Museum; Oakland Museum.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
CHS; AAA 1919-33; WWAA 1936-56; Impressionism, The Calif. View; Society of Six; P&S; Ben; From Exposition to Exposition; American Impressionism.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
William Clapp was born in Canada in 1879, to American parents.
The family returned to California in 1885, Oakland, across the Bay from
San Francisco. Clapp began his art instruction back in Canada,
followed by time at the Academies Julian, Colarossi, and Grand
Chaumiere in Paris.
Biography from Fleischer Museum
Leaving Europe, Clapp settled for many years
in Montreal, where he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Art
Academy. Clapp returned to Oakland in 1917 and served as the
Director of the Oakland Gallery (now Oakland Museum) for over 30 years.
the years 1918-1930, Clapp showed his works with a group known as "The
Society of Six," a group of artists influenced by the principles of the
French Fauvists. Clapp was a prolific artist whose later works are
painted in a distinctive pointallist style.
A painter and etcher, William Clapp was born in Montreal, Canada of American parents on Oct. 29. 1879. At age six Clapp moved to California with his family settling in Oakland where he spent his childhood. In 1900 he returned to Montreal for four years of study with William Brymner followed by further study in Paris at Academies Julian, Colarossi, and Grande Chaumiere. After his European studies, he returned to Montreal where he was elected an associate member of the Royal Canadian Art Academy.
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He exhibited at the National Academy of Design, Carnegie Institute, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before returning to Oakland in 1917. He served as director and curator of the Oakland Art Gallery from 1918-49. In this position, and as a member of a group of painters known as the Society of Six, he arranged exhibitions of their works from 1923-28. For Six years he operated the Clapp School of Art in Oakland.
His early works reflect the Impressionist style of Renoir, whereas, his later works are of the Pointillist style of Seurat. Clapp is as well known in Canada as he is in the U.S. He died in Oakland on April 21, 1954.
California Art Club; Oakland Art League; Montreal Art Club; San Francisco Art Association.
San Francisco Art Association, 1918, 1919; Society of Six 1923-28; Oakland Art Gallery, 1932; GGIE, 1939; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1937; Society of Six, Oakland Museum, 1972.
Canadian National Gallery; Ontario Provincial Government; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Oakland Museum.
AAA 1919-33; WWAA 1936-56; P & S Friedman Collection cat.; CHS; Impressionism, The California View; Fld; Society of Six; Ben; From Exposition to Exposition; WIM Fine Arts, Oakland; American Impressionism, Gerdts.1
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