Born on November 29, 1829, Albert Bellows would become an eminent American landscape and genre painter and a member of the National Academy of Design*. He began as a student of architecture, then still in his twenties, he became principal of the New England School of Design. But before long he had to resign, in order to travel to Europe. He discovered the art treasures of Paris before entering the Royal Academy of Antwerp*. Already at the age of twenty-nine Bellows was named an honorary member of the Royal Society of Painters of Belgium, the same year he was elected as Associate of the National Academy of Design. Two years later, in 1861 he became a full Academician (the NAD has his Landscape dated that year) and his works were on display at the National Academy between 1861 and 1883. He also exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum* (1856-67). In New York City, Bellows rented a space at the Studio Building. For a while he was living in Boston, until a fire destroyed his studio there in 1872.
In his later years Bellows turned more to watercolor and he published Water Color Painting: Some Facts and Authorities in Relation to its Durability (1868). He was one of the early members of the American Water Color Society, having been a founder in 1866 of its predecessor, The American Society of Painters in Water Color.*
“On the revival of water-color painting in America Mr. Bellows was found among the first, and has become one of its most powerful supporters,” wrote H. W. French in 1879. At the Centennial Exposition* in Philadelphia, Bellows had an oil painting, Sunday in Devonshire and three watercolors accepted; the Brooklyn Museum collection has Coaching in New England, a highly detailed and delicately painted watercolor dated 1876. Then at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878 he exhibited A New England Village School. Picnic in a Summer Landscape, a painting by Bellows dated 1879, is in the Birmingham (AL) Museum of Art.
Bellows died at Auburndale, Massachusetts on November 24, 1883.
French, H. W. Art and Artists in Connecticut. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1879, pp. 138-140; Benjamin, S. G. W. Our American Artists. Boston: D. Lothrop and Co., 1886, pp. 22-40; “A. F. Bellows.” American Art and American Art Collections by the Most Celebrated Artists, section 57. Boston E.W. Walker and Co., 1889; Finch, Christopher. American Watercolors. New York: Abbeville Press, 1986, p. 89.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.
* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx