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James Sessions

 (1882 - 1962)
James Milton Sessions was active/lived in Illinois.  James Sessions is known for outdoor genre, marine, illustration.

James Sessions

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following is from Karol Franks, who has researched the artist:

James Milton Sessions, born on September 20, 1882 in Rome, NY, received his initial exposure to art from his mother, who was an accomplished artist. He trained at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1903-1906 and initially supported himself as a wheelsman aboard Great Lakes ships from 1906-1914, later serving in the Illinois Naval Reserve during World War I. He also worked as a commercial illustrator.

He was a master watercolorist of marine, sporting, and military World War II scenes. He developed a love of the sea and is probably best known as a painter of marine subjects. Sessions painted images of numerous locations, from the Bahamas to New England's busy fishing harbors, north to the raw fishing grounds of Nova Scotia, and ultimately to the Navajo reservations in New Mexico.

Not only do his works document important World War II historical events, they visually portray and convey the spirit of the American fighting forces in both the Pacific and European campaigns, commencing with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, followed by D-Day Europe through to the final phases of the Pacific war, such as Jimmy Doolittles daylight bombing raids of the Japanese mainland to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military. The Chicago Tribune Newspaper utilized his talents and Sessions is considered to be the greatest "brush reporter" of World War II. His works can be found in Presidential collections, numerous important corporate collections and military establishments throughout the country.

Sessions created numerous wartime advertisements.  Examples are a 1943 Willys Jeep ad showing the Coast Guard at Guadalcanal, and a Borg-Warner ad in 1945 showing the mass production of radiators and clutches for motorized warfare manufactured in Detroit.  His work is highly collectible in the field of Militaria WWII, 1939-1945.

In 1962 the New York Graphic Society commissioned him to make four paintings, reproductions of which were distributed as part of the Society's Works of Masters Group.  Many of his other paintings have been reproduced over the years, issued as posters and as high quality reprints on watercolor paper.

Sessions was married in Chicago, Illinois in 1946 to Chrysanthy Deamanthopulos. Although very prolific in the style of John Whorf and Ogden Pleissner, he unfortunately destroyed much of his own work.

He died on November 14, 1962 in Chicago at the age of 80.

Selected Museum Exhibitions and Collections: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Art, Milwaukee, The Museum of Fine Art, Cleveland.

Biography from the Archives of askART
The following is from

James M. Sessions: Born in Albany New York in 1882. Sessions followed his mother's example (She worked for Taft at the White House) and became a painter. He enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, after which he went on to become a major illustrator of the period and a WW II camouflage expert. Examples of his military paintings are to be found throughout the USA in Naval and Army and Marine Academies.

Numerous Corporations own examples such as: Borg Warner, Chicago Tribune Newspaper, J. P. Speed Museum, KY.  Many senior military officials also own works by the artist.

Of note: James Sessions is the only American artist who at the time of the exhibit, during his lifetime was awarded a show of his painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He later cooperated on the reproduction of many of his best Sporting and Military works while working in Chicago where he died in 1962.

Biography from the Archives of askART
The following is from Richard Sklenar, Executive Director, Theatre Historical Society of America, York Theatre Building, 152 N. York Street, Elmhurst (Chicago) IL:

We are currently mounting an exhibit to open September 29, 2001 for the 80th Anniversary of the Chicago Theatre, Chicago.

Included will be reproductions of many newspaper ads by the owners of the theatre, Balaban and Katz, from the early 1920's which feature signed line drawings by James Sessions.

It has been stated that B&K were among the first to exploit institutional advertising -- they touted their theatre's ventilation, projection, or usher service, rather than a specific movie. Sessions drawings were integral to the ads. Some of the ads bear numbers. The highest we have on file is No. 53.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery

A noted watercolorist, James Milton Sessions was born in Rome, New York and spent his youth in Chicago. His mother was an artist who encouraged his early interest in painting, which he pursued at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1903 to 1906.  Sessions worked as a wheelsman for Great Lakes ships between 1906 and 1914 before serving in the Illinois Naval Reserve during World War I.

His abiding passion for marine subjects is reflected in his oeuvre. Other themes for which he is distinguished include sports, outdoor genre, and military subjects, particularly of World War II.  A peripatetic traveler, he painted in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Pacific, as well as California, New England, the American Southwest, Nova Scotia, and Europe.  He worked as a commercial illustrator for the Chicago Tribune and was considered the finest "brush reporter" of World War II. Sessions continued to produce military subjects and commercial commissions into his later years.

In the 1930s, Sessions began to work regularly in watercolor, a medium in which he developed exceptional skill and a vibrant style, akin to the work of realists like John Whorf and Ogden Pleissner.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

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About  James Sessions

Born:  1882 - Rome, New York
Died:   1962 - Chicago, Illinois
Known for:  outdoor genre, marine, illustration