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 Joseph Allen Physioc  (1866 - 1951)

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Lived/Active: New York/South Carolina      Known for: theatre set design, painting

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Civil War battle scene
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
JOSEPH ALLEN PHYSIOC

Joseph Allen Physioc was born in Richmond, Virginia, of Huguenot ancestry. To escape religious persecution in France, the Physioc ancestors built their own vessel, crossed the Atlantic and settled on Roanoke Sound. From that time until the War between the States some member of the family tended the light at Okrecoke Inlet. Mr Physioc’s mother was descended from the Johnsons and the Underwoods, early farmers of the Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

When young Joseph was four the Physioc  family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where the boy went to the Military Academy. There he developed a singular acrobatic ability and a rich singing voice. The combination led him to the stage while still in his  ‘teens.

When arrived at the mature age of 22 he met, wooed and married Jessica Eskridge Thomas, daughter of Major John F Thomas of New Orleans. Thereupon he gave up acting for theatre set designing. Starting with a little theatre in Troy, Alabama, he pushed his way on up to New York, where he worked under Lafayette Seavy and Henry E Hoyt, designing settings for the Metropolitan Opera for four years.

At the age of 27 Physioc was given the contract to stage Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man for Richard Mansfield in the old Herald Square Theatre. His success with this and with Napoleon,  which followed placed him in the front rank of scenic designers. For the thirty years following, the name Of Joseph Physioc was connected with outstanding productions of Augustin Daly, Henry Miller, Mrs. Fiske, Julia Marlow, Cecil and George De Mille, James K Hackett, Edwin Mayo, Kyrle Bellew, Sir John Hare, Margaret Anglin, Mary Mannering, John Charles Thomas, Austin Strong, Frank Mayo, Sir Henry Irwin, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Jane Cowl, May Irwin, Blanch Walsh, Rose Coglan, Forbes Robertson and many others.

Among his famous sets are Turn to the Right, Lightnin’, Bird of Paradise, Peg O’ My Heart, Fair and Warmer, Within the Law, Ninety and Nine, Jim Bludso, Seventh Heaven, Fortune Teller, Lion and Mouse, Three Wise.

All of Clyde Fitches plays, Maj. Andrea Frank Mayo, Nordec; Robert Mantel’s Repertoire;; Chas. Frohan’s Academy Music Productions; Dan’l Frohman’s; Margerite Illington, The Thief, etc.; Owen Wisteer’s Virginian; Richard Harding Davis’ Soldiers of Fortune; James O’Neil, Horizon - Gold. Climbers; Lady Margerite; Tolstoi Resurrection;  Blanch Walsh in TheDaughter of Hamilcar; Klien’s daughters of Men, Chorus Lady. Ruth St. Denis and Isidore Duncan charmed their audiences dancing in settings designed by Physioc. The decor for the original Victory Ball in the Ritz-Carlton was his. When Mrs Vanderbilt wanted a scene of unbelievable glamour for her Arabian Nights Ball at Newport she chose Joseph Physioc to create it.

Joseph Physioc has retired as a scene designer. But his soul is enthusiastic, his eye is keen and his hand sure. As he has travelled, studying the arts and drama of Japan, China, Burma Java India, Egypt, he has sketched and painted. Today collectors are discovering his feeling for form and color. President Roosevelt has three of his paintings; Mrs Woodrow Wilson has two; Albert Laflinn four, Otto Stack,director of the St. Regis, has three. Others are to be found in the collections of George Kaufman, Mrs. W.H. Seaman, Mrs Russell Doubleday, Miss Katherine Owens, Major Bowes, Col. Louis Howe.

This year Joseph Physioc journeyed through the Holy Land. With native guides he penetrated places forbidden to the general tourist. The result is the series of paintings shown at this exhibit. Critics have pronounced them among the best of am artist whose reputation in his new field is becoming as important as it was once in his old days.

Submitted by Rikki Springsteed.

Of her sources, she writes: This data was from a small hand out. I have two catalogs and another newspaper clipping (undated) that references the "Art Club". The Exhibition of Paintings  is for 86 paintings dated 12 oct-26 Oct 1941 at the Garden City Hotel Lounge, Garden City LI  NY.

The other catalog is undated but it is for Paintings of Egypt and only shows 30 titles.


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