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 John (JB) Butler  (1890 - 1976)

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Lived/Active: Washington/Maryland/Wisconsin / Europe      Known for: landscape, figure, mural, ceramics

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John (JB) Butler
An example of work by John (JB) Butler
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Biography from Martin-Zambito Fine Art:
In the early part of the 20th century, three progressive artists in Seattle worked under the name “The Triad”. These artists were the etcher Roi Partridge, the miniaturist Clare Shepard Shisler and John Davidson Butler. Included in their circle among others, were the painters Mabel Lisle Ducasse and Yasushi Tanaka as well as Partridge’s future wife, photographer Imogen Cunningham.

Cunningham used her husband and artist friends as models in her earlier Pictorial photographs, especially John Butler and his brother Ben.

Butler’s art instruction began early with Seattle artist Carlotta Blaurock who had studied with James Whistler. Butler continued his studies with Ella Shepard Bush and other local artists and exhibited in Seattle’s 1909 Alaska -Yukon Exposition. The following year he joined Roi Partridge in New York where Butler had two watercolors accepted into the American Watercolor Society exhibition held at the National Academy of Design. He and Partridge then traveled to Europe where Butler continued his studies at the Colorossi Academy in Paris and additional studies in Germany.

Butler returned to America and studied with William Merrit Chase at his summer class in in Carmel, California in 1914. He shared a first prize from Chase with another Seattle artist, Louise Crow. He had a successful solo exhibition that same year at the Seattle Fine Arts Society, predecessor to the Seattle Art Museum. Butler was one of Seattle’s most active artists and produced murals and illustrations for local publications as well as writing articles and working with arts organizations to promote art in Seattle.

After serving in WW I, Butler returned to Europe, his primary residence from 1918 until 1932, and continued to send works for exhibition in Seattle. He began making prints, especially woodcuts and blockprints that he exhibited with the Northwest Printmakers Society in Seattle and other national venues. From 1933 on, he was an art instructor in various institutions in Seattle, Minneapolis, Virginia and Pennsylvania. He won a Bronze Medal for figure composition in a national competition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1938.

In the early 1940’s, he began working in ceramics and produced a large body of work in that medium and continued to teach.

John Butler rarely signed his works. Some of the early works when he was associated with “The Triad” bear a triangular cipher or he sometimes signed his work with his initials, J.B.

David F. Martin
Martin-Zambito Fine Art

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