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 Louis L. Betts  (1873 - 1961)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois/Arkansas      Known for: portrait, still life, and genre-views painting

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Ad Code: 3
Louis L Betts
from Auction House Records.
A Garden Party
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Louis Betts was born in Little Rock, Arkansas.  His art instruction came primarily from his father who was also a painter.  At sixteen, he did his first portrait of his violin master in exchange for lessons, and Betts focused primarily on landscape painting until he was twenty-four.  He then studied portrait painting at the Pennsylvania Academy for a year, and the first Cresson Scholarship permitted him to study for two years abroad.  Betts then remained in France, England, Holland, Spain, and Italy for seven years painting portraits in court circles.

The late John Lane, English publisher, once visited the Art Institute, and wrote, "The most live portrait in the exhibition is far and away La Verne W. Noyes, by Louis Betts.  The skillful handling of hands is a characteristic of this strong artist.  He probably belongs, though he may not know it, to the great traditional family of portrait painters, one of whom painted the time of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, and whose works may be seen in the National Gallery of London."

He later called on the artist and gave him a copy of the Betts genealogy.  Betts painted a portrait of an historic member of the family, Elizabeth Betts of Wortham, whom he painted in a dress made by his wife after a description in old family letters.  This painting won the first Altman Prize of the National Academy in 1923, and was then shown in the Toledo Art Museum.

Betts painted such subjects as Emerson Hough, Hamlin Garland, Cardinal Mundelein, William O. Goodman, Drs. William and Charles Mayo, Dr. Goodspeed of the University of Chicago, the Rev. Jenkin Lloyd Jones, as well as graceful groups of children.  He insisted on simple and beautiful costumes; and in some instances created outdoor backgrounds, works of art in themselves, revealing his ability in landscape, which was a part of his general artistic excellence.

Louis Betts helped found the artist colony in Park Ridge, Illinois, is represented in the Art Institute of Chicago and elsewhere, and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Cuthbert Lee, Contemporary American Portrait Painters," Illustrating and Describing the Work of Fifty Living Painters

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 5, 1873, Louis Betts studied under his father Edwin Betts and at the Pennsylvania under William Merritt Chase. With his family, he lived in Oakland in 1888.

In 1906-07 he toured the Southwest under the auspices of the Santa Fe Railway and visited San Diego where he painted in Coronado Beach.

He died in New York City on August 14, 1961.

National Academy of Design
Salmagundi Club.

National Academy of Design, 1902, 1918, 1931-37 (medals)
Louisiana Purchase Expo (St Louis), 1904 (medal)
Carnegie Inst., 1910 (prize)
Art Institute of Chicago, 1920.

Orange Co. (CA) Museum
Art Institute of Chicago
 Corcoran Gallery of Art
Montclair (NJ) Museum
Arkansas Museum
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1898-1933; Who's Who in American Art 1936-62; Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); NY Times, 8-14-1961 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from The Redfern Gallery:
Louis Betts was a sought- after portrait artist in the U.S. and abroad, who distinguished himself in capturing the physical and spiritual character of his subjects. He studied the paintings of Franz Hals in Holland and Velasquez in Spain. Betts helped found the artists colony in Park Ridge, Illinois. He was also a violinist and avid fisherman.

Addresses : Chicago, IL, through 1915; NYC, 1915-61.

Studied : Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; & with William Chase.

Member : Art Institute of Chicago;Fellow Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; National Institute Arts and Letters; SC; Union League Cl.,Chicago; National Academy;Salmagundi Club;National Arts Club;Century Association.

Exhibited : Art Institute of Chicago,1895-1939 (med.,1920); National Academy of Design,1902 (prize), 1931 (gold),1932 (prize), 1933 (prize),1937 (prize);St. louis Expo.,1904; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 19051907,1916-26;Corcoran Gallery, 1908-23, 1939;Carnegie Institute,1910 (prize); Allied Artists of America,1931 (gold).Works : Art Institute of Chicago; Corcoran Gallery of Art; Richmond Art Association; Montclair Art Museum; Arkansas Art Museum;Toledo Museum of Arts; Chicago University; Mayo Fnd., Rochester, Minn.; Union League CL., Chicago.

Biography from Blake Benton Fine Art, Artists A - B:
Louis Betts was a painter, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 5th, 1873. His father was a landscape painter and his mother was also an artist. At an early age his father E. D. Betts, Sr., encouraged him in his love of pictorial art and was his first instructor. When he was fourteen years old he painted his first portrait, for which he received instruction on the violin, his favorite instrument. Painting and music became his "vocation and avocation" for the rest of his life.

He later became a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art under William Merritt Chase who encouraged him to become an Impressionist. He won a traveling scholarship, which gave him his first trip to Europe. Louis Betts became known as a successful portrait painter of the time in Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid.

It was said of one of his portraits: "of Scott Libby, Jr., a handsome lad, is regarded as a perfect representation of American childhood and also as one of his finest achievements. Another critic wrote: "His grasp of character and essentials is revealed in a broad and dashing manner He is a painter's painter in the truest meaning whose work will never appeal to connoisseurs." At the time many of his portraits went on to attain national prominence including: "Michael Cudahy," "Ella Flagg Young," and D. Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed of the Chicago University. He was also known for genre, portraits, landscapes, still lifes, flowers Gardens, nudes, and Indians.

Betts was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1912, he became a full Academician in 1915. He was also a member of the Academy of National Arts, 1912. He is represented in various museums and institutions in the United States.He spent time at the Impressionists' art colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut. He passed away in 1961.

Blake Benton Fine Art

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Louis Betts is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Old Lyme Colony Painters
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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