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Edward Potthast

 (1857 - 1927)
Edward Henry Potthast was active/lived in New York, Ohio.  Edward Potthast is known for shorescape genre and landscape painting, illustrations.

Edward Potthast

Biography from the Archives of askART

A painter most remembered most for his beach scenes of carefree atmosphere, Edward Potthast was one of the significant 19th-century American artists from Cincinnati, which at the time of his birth was a burgeoning art center and a place of refuge for German immigrants including the Potthast family.

He first studied at the McMicken School of Design and at the Cincinnati Academy, and then went to Europe briefly before becoming established in his native city as a lithographer and illustrator.

In 1892, he moved to New York City where he won the Clarke Prize at the National Academy of Design and many other honors.  In 1910, he was part of a Santa Fe Railroad sponsored trip to the Grand Canyon that included Thomas Moran.  The group spent ten days painting on the South Rim of the Canyon, and this experience was so stimulating to him that he returned to the West several times, developing a tonalist style of painting night scenes.  Apparently he also traveled to California, as several of his paintings are of Catalina Island according to the book The Enchanted Isle and verified by a resident of Catalina.

His studio was primarily in New York City, but in 1912, he spent extensive time in Europe where he enrolled in Academies in Munich, Antwerp and Paris.  He divided his time between illustrations for Harper's" and Scribner's magazines but later gave up illustration for full time fine art.

He was an exceedingly private person who died at his easel.

Docent archives, Phoenix Art Museum, Paper by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier
Stern, Rose and Siple, Enchanted Isle: A History of Plein-Air Painting in Santa Cataline Island

Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries

Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927)

American Impressionist Edward Henry Potthast is best known for sunny beach scenes, filled with sparkling surf and high-keyed details such as balloons, hats and umbrellas.  He was born to a family of artisans in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 10, 1857.  At age twelve he became a charter student at Cincinnati's new McMicken School of Design.  He studied at McMicken, off and on, for over a decade.  From 1879 to 1881, his teacher was Thomas Satterwhite Noble.  Noble, a portrait and figure painter, employed a dark palette and a rich, painterly technique derived from his instruction under French artist Thomas Couture.

Potthast made his first trip to Europe in 1881.  After a visit to Antwerp, where he studied with Polydore Beaufaux and Charles Verlat, Potthast proceeded to Munich perhaps on a visit that had been prearranged with Noble, who was also in Munich in the early 1880s.  Munich and its Royal Academy strongly had long been a destination for Cincinnati artists.  Potthast and Noble had been preceded by fellow Cincinnatians John Henry Twachtman, Robert Blum, Joseph De Camp, and Frank Duveneck, who alternately taught in Munich and Cincinnati.  At the Royal Academy, Potthast studied with the American-born instructor Carl Marr (von Marr, after 1909), who was known for his adroit handling of light and shadow in realistically rendered works.  Potthast completed his European tour with a visit to Paris, where he studied for about a month and a half at the Académie Julian.

Returning to Cincinnati in 1885, Potthast resumed his studies with Noble, while earning his living as a lithographer.  At this time, his painting style was much influenced by the Munich School, which was, in turn, influenced by the Dutch painting tradition. Potthast's paintings, which included both interiors and landscapes, displayed sound draftsmanship and dark tones applied with solid unbroken strokes.  At the end of 1886, he again departed for Paris, where he studied with Fernand Cormon and, possibly, with Jules-Joseph Lefebvre.  In 1889 he met American Robert Vonnoh and Irishman Roderic O' Conor, landscape painters who were working at Grèz.  The cool-toned, Impressionist paintings with scumbled surfaces these painters and others at the Grèz colony were making had a profound impact on Potthast's palette.  His conversion to Impressionism was immediate and irrevocable.  When he returned to Cincinnati, he carried back light-filled canvases, paintings such as Sunshine, 1889 (Cincinnati Art Museum), a painting of a girl in an outdoor setting, which had been exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1889.  When the exhibition entitled "Light Pictures" opened in 1894 at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Potthast was the only American artist included in the show.

Even though he enjoyed modest success in his hometown, Potthast made the decision to leave Cincinnati in 1895 and establish himself in New York City. While he went about setting up a painting studio, he fulfilled illustration commissions for the publications Scribner's, Century, and Harper's.  He exhibited watercolors and oil paintings in exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1896, and at the National Academy of Design from 1897.  He won the academy's Thomas B. Clarke prize for best figure painting in 1899, the same year was he was elected an associate of the academy.  Potthast was made a full academician in 1906.

After his move to New York, Potthast made scenes of people enjoying leisurely holidays at the beach and rocky harbor views his specialty.  He spent summer months in any one of a number of seaside art colonies, including Gloucester, Rockport and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Ogunquit and Monhegan Island, Maine.  Such was his love of the beach that, when he resided in New York, he would journey out on fair days to Coney Island or Far Rockaway with his easel, paintbox, and a few panels.

Potthast never married.  He was an extremely private person, though he was close to his nephew and namesake, Edward Henry Potthast II (1880-1941), who also was an artist.  Potthast died alone in his New York studio on March 9, 1927.

The paintings of Edward Henry Potthast are represented in public collections across the United States, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Art Institute of Chicago; Cincinnati Art Museum; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

Biography from Spanierman Gallery

Edward Henry Potthast was born in Cincinnati in 1857, the son of a German cabinetmaker. Along with contemporaries Frank Duveneck and John Henry Twachtman, Potthast eventually became one of the most significant artists to emerge from the burgeoning art milieu of Cincinnati during the nineteenth century.

Potthast received his early art training at the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati while supporting himself as a lithographer and illustrator. In the fall of 1882, he traveled to Antwerp in the company of fellow artists Joseph Henry Sharp and Charles Haider. After a brief period of instruction in the studio of Charles Veriat, he went on to Munich. During the next three years he studied under Nicolas Gysis, Ludwig von Loefftz and possibly, Carl Marr. Returning to Cincinnati in 1885, he resumed work as a lithographer and took evening classes at the Cincinnati Museum Association. He went to Europe again in 1887 and for the next few years divided his time between Munich and Paris. In 1889 or 1890, he visited Grez. Although he had concentrated on figure painting while in Munich, a meeting with the American Impressionist painters Robert Vonnoh and Roderick O'Conor in Grez, prompted him to turn to landscape subjects and a lighter, more colorful palette.

Potthast returned to Cincinnati around 1892, where he continued to work as a lithographer. In 1896, he moved to New York City, free-lancing for such popular magazines as Scribner's and Century and painting in his spare time. He soon became a lively figure in New York art circles, exhibiting and receiving numerous awards and prizes at the National Academy of Design, the Society of American Artists and the American Water Color Society. After developing a steady clientele for his paintings (he had dealers in Chicago and Cincinnati as well as New York), he was able to give up his work as a lithographer entirely.

Potthast was the first Cincinnati-based artist to work in the Impressionist mode. Although he continued to paint landscapes throughout his career, after his move to New York, he became renowned for his optimistic, sun-drenched beach scenes in which he combined the vivid colors of Impressionism with the strong brushwork of the Munich School. Among his favorite sites were Coney Island and Rockaway Beach, both readily accessible from New York City. He also took frequent trips along the New England coast, stopping frequently at Ogunquit, Maine. His other painting locales included the Grand Canyon and the Canadian Rockies, where he sought in search of new sketching material.

Edward Potthast died in his studio from a sudden heart attack in 1927. Representative examples of his work can be found in major public and private collections throughout the United States, including Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover Massachusetts; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Brooklyn Museum; The Art Institute of Chicago; Cincinnati Art Museum; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; M.H. DeYoung Memorial Museum, San Francisco; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago.


© The essay herein is the property of Spanierman Gallery, LLC and is copyrighted by Spanierman Gallery, LLC, and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from Spanierman Gallery, LLC, nor shown or communicated to anyone without due credit being given to Spanierman Gallery, LLC.

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.
Edward Henry Potthast (American, 1857-1927)

Potthast was born June 10, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of working class, German immigrants Henry Ignatz Potthast (a chair and cabinet maker) and Berrnardina Scheifers (a milliner and helper-clerk) and grew up in Covington, Kentucky.

He studied at the McMicken School with Thomas Noble (1870-1881); in Antwerp with Polydore Beaufaux and Charles Verlat (1881-1882); in Munich with Nikolaus Gysis (1882-1883), Ludwig vonLoefftz, Carl vonMarr and Alexander vonWagner (1883-1884); in Paris at the Academie Julian with Lefebvre and Boulanger (1885-1888), Cormon (1887) and possibly with Paul Laurens (1888); art lessons at the Cincinnati Art Academy (1887).

He was an illustrator for book companies and magazines (1878-1891).

Memberships include Allied Artists of America; American Water Color Society (1895; Brd. of Directors); Art Club of Philadelphia (1898); Cincinnati Art Club (1891); Dragonfly Club, Cincinnati (1886-1889); Fine Arts Federation of NY (1910-1917); League of American Artists; Lotus Club (life member, 1912); National Arts Club, life member; National Academy of Design, ANA 1899 and NA 1906; N.Y. Water Color Society; N.Y. Society of Painters; Painters & Sculptors Gallery Assoc.; Salmagundi Club; Soc. of American Artists; Soc. of Men Who Paint the Far West (1911-20); Society of Western Painters (1897-1898); Societe des Artistes, Paris.

Awards include a medal at the Royal Academy, Munich (1885); Thomas B. Clark Prize, NAD (1899); Evans Prize, AWCS (1901); Gold Medal, AWCS (1902); Inness Prize, SC (1903, 1906); Silver Medal, St. Louis Univ. Expo. (1904); Morgan Prize, SC (1904); Hudnut Prize, AWCS (1914); Silver Medal, Pan-Pac. International Expo., San Francisco (1915), Griscom Prize, AWCS (1926); Osborne Purchase Prize, AWCS (1927).

One-man exhibitions include Barton's Art Store, Cincinnati (1892); Montross Gallery, NY (1903); Traxel Art Gallery, Cincinnati (1903); Katz Galleries, NYC (1903); Macbeth Galleries, NY (1912); Young's Art Gallery, Chicago (1912, 1920); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Wash., D.C. (1924); Feragil Galleries, NY (1924); Closson Galleries, Cincinnati (1926); Grand Central Art Gallery, NY (1927).

Memorial & Retrospectives include Traxel Art Gallery (1927); Grand Central, Closson, Feragil Galleries (1928); Hirschl & Adler Galleries, NY (1962, 1968); Cincinnati Art Museum (1965); Ira Spanierman Gallery, NY (1966); Chapellier Galleries, NY (1968); The Taft Museum (1968); Corcoran Gallery of Art (1973); L.A. County Museum of Art (1975); touring show from J.B. Speed Art Museum, to Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, to Beaumont Art Museum, TX (1985-1988).

Potthast's brother named his son Edward Henry Potthast (1880-1941) and Potthast's namesake became his student. Uncle and son painted together in Potthast's New York City studio for years and traveled to Holland to paint there as well. The two men hung side by side at exhibitions starting in 1911, and when Potthast died his namesake inherited a great many of his paintings. Over the years both men's canvases were intermingled and when the nephew died, all the paintings in the studio were sold, almost all bearing the same signature but having been painted by TWO men named Edward Henry Potthast.

Pierce, Patricia Jobe, "Edward Henry Potthast, More Than One Man," International Fine ARt Collector, Premiere Edition, 1991.

Biography from Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Edward H. Potthast studied intermittently at the McMicken School of Design between 1869 and 1887. He also worked as a lithography apprentice before traveling to Munich and Paris. When he returned to America he settled in NYC and worked as an illustrator for "Harper's" and "Scribner's".

In the 1890s, Potthast became serious about painting the figure. He was also inspired by several trips out West that allowed him the opportunity to paint landscapes with Tonalist qualities in his night scenes. His best known works, however, are Impressionistic beach scenes of women and children playing in the surf. His bold brushwork describes the rocky New England coastline very accurately.

Potthast died in 1927.

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About  Edward Potthast

Born:  1857 - Cincinnati, Ohio
Died:   1927 - New York City
Known for:  shorescape genre and landscape painting, illustrations