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 Myron G. Barlow  (1873 - 1937)

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Lived/Active: Michigan / France      Known for: peasant genre, portrait, interiors

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Myron G Barlow
from Auction House Records.
In the Garden
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Genre and figure painter Myron G. Barlow, 1873-1937, was born in Ionia, Michigan, and raised in Detroit. His name is associated with that city even though he spent most of his later life in France. Barlow studied with Joseph Gies at the Detroit Museum School and for a year at the Chicago Art Institute, Illinois. Early in his career, he worked as a newspaper artist.

In Paris, at the age of twenty-one, he was noticed by William Bouguereau, the influential teacher and powerful force in 19th-Century French academic painting. Barlow studied with another arch-academicist, Jean-Leon Gerome, and at the Academie Colarossi. He traveled often to Holland, the first time in 1898, where he studied and copied the Dutch masters, especially Vermeer, in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. Like Vermeer, Barlow often painted solitary figures of women in interiors. Barlow moved, around 1900, to the French village of Trepied, near Etaples, a small town south of Boulogne, in the Artois district, making his studio from a peasant house, painting models in his garden against a background of poppies. By 1914, he had become one of the longest-term members of Trepied's expatriate artists' colony.

By the age of twenty-two, Barlow had been awarded his first medal. In 1907, at age thirty-four, he was the only American elected to membership in the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in France. In 1932, the French government awarded Barlow the Legion of Honor.

In 1925, he completed six large murals in the auditorium of Temple Beth El at Woodward and Gladstone in Detroit. Barlow exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, from 1903-1910, and the National Academy of Design, New York City, 1907-1916.

He admired the murals of Piero della Francesca, the great Italian Renaissance master of the 15th Century, and Puvis de Chavannes, a 19th Century French painter of idealized figures in landscape harking back to Ancient Greece. Barlow, aware of inferior quality paint that was causing the works of artists like James McNeill Whistler to fade, embarked on a study of pigments, eventually grinding and fabricating his own paint in order to achieve permanence.

A painting well-known at the time of his death, "The Cup of Tea", is in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Barlow had left Detroit, in May 1937, to return to France, intending to sell his studio and live in Detroit. But, he died in France in August 1937.

More biographical details are available from "Masterworks of American Impressionism from the Pfiel Collection" by William Gerdts.

The following articles are from the website of the artist with permission of family member Susan Barlow.

Detroit News August 01, 1932

Word was received today that Myron Barlow, well-known Detroit artist, who for many years has lived at Etaples, France, has been awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.

The French government, like the British, issues several classes of decorations for distinction in various walks of like, of which the Legion of Honor is the highest and most prized. In recent years it has seldom been awarded to foreigners.

Mr. Barlow is the son of Adolph Barlow, 362 Woodland avenue.

Mr. Barlow studied in France under Gerome and other masters at the Beaux Arts. In 1907 he was elected a member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts. His pictures wond gold medals at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904 and at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The Detroit Institute of Arts owns several of his pictures, and he is also represented in the Pennsylvania Academy, and other art galleries in both America and France. Four of his murals adorn the tower of Temple Beth El.

Accustomed to make almost annual visits to Detroit, Mr. Barlow was compelled by the World War to make a stay of more than four years here, for Etaples became an armed camp. On several occasions, his studio, a mile out of town, narrowly missed destruction by German bombs.

Copy of original

Wins Honor Myron Barlow, Detroit Painter Awarded Legion of Honor

August 07, 1932, Detroit News

In spite of the fact that Myron Barlow has spent the greater part of every year for almost 40 years in him home in Etaples, France, he remains very much a Detroit painter. This is not only because he has returned to this city for a short visit almost every year since he first went abroad to study in 1894, but also because many of his best canvases may be found in Detroit homes.

It is with peculiar satisfaction, therefore, that his friends here learned that the French government has conferred upon him the medal of the Legion of Honor last week, in recognition of his achievement as a painter.

Copy of original

Myron Barlow, Etaples, France August 16, 1937 (AP)

Myron Barlow, 64 year-old artist of Detroit, Mich., died today at this fishing town on his annual visit to France.

Copy of original

Detroit News August 16, 1937

Artist Barlow Dies in France
Famed Detroit Painter Last of Old Group

By Florence Davis, Art Editor, The Detroit News

Myron Barlow, internationally known Detroit artist, died at his home in Etaples, France, Saturday evening. The news of his death was received at his home here Sunday. Although not in robust health when he left Detroit for France last May following a visit here, he was not actually ill, and the news of his death came without previous warning. He was 64 years old.

The announcement of Barlow's death was received in Detroit with poignant regret by hundreds of Art lovers who knew him and his work. He was practically the last of the old group of Detroit painters who have won recognition in Europe and America and who stood for fine achievement in painting.


Although younger than others, he carried on the tradition of such men as the lat Gari Melchers, Julius Rolshoven, Francis P. Paulus, Percy Ives and Joseph Gies, who was his teacher in the early days here in Detroit.

Barlow's painting was always distinguished by fine taste. He revealed a thorough mastery of draughtsmanship and composition, a subtle and beautiful sense of color.

In his subject matter, he glorified the humble and simple life of the French peasant, and expressed in all his figure studies an especially human and tender quality.


His famous picture, "The Cup of Tea," owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts, is typical of the type of thing which he liked best to do. This, as most of his other figure studies, reveals his love of beauty and repose.

He was a close student and sincere admirer of the great Dutch master Vermeer who influenced him strongly in his painting; of the Italian, Piero della Francesca, whom he believed had discovered the principles of the Impressionists long before they did. He also admired the great French muralist, Puvis de Chavannes, who had much the same mastery of subtle and beautiful color as Barlow. Barlow

himself was never intolerant of the work of others. He disliked what seems to him the irrational element in modern painting but he was always a generous and appreciative critic of the work of others.

Although his paintings hang in scores of Detroit homes and in museums all over the world, many people were unaware of one of their chief virtues. This lay in the lasting quality of the paint he used. For many years, Barlow was disturbed by the fact that many great masterpieces were fading (as in the case of Whistler's work) and might someday be all but indistinguishable.


This inspired him to make a thorough study of the chemistry of paint, and to seek the formula for lasting pigments. This he believed that he had accomplished, and he always ground and mixed his own paints.

During the latter part of his life he did intensive work on a special engraving process.

Barlow, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Barlow, who lived in Detroit for many years, was born in Ionia, Mich, in 1873. He began his career as a newspaper artist and studied here under Joseph Gies, later spending a year at the Chicago Art Institute. At 21 he went to Paris, where he attracted the attention of the great Bouguereau, and became a pupil of Gerome at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

He received his first medal when he was 22 years old and since that was awarded many other academic medals and prizes.

In 1907 he was the only American who had been elected to the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts, and in 1932 he was made a member of the Legion of Honor by the French Government.


Among his major achievements in Detroit are six large murals which he painted for the main auditorium of Temple Beth El, which were completed in 1925.

Barlow left Detroit in May to return to France with the intention of selling his studio. Tepled, near Etaples, a small town south of Boulogne. The studio was charmingly situated amid a colony of fellow artists, which since the war, has been broken up through death and desertion. It was his intention to return to Detroit to spend the remainder of his life.

He leaves one brother, Bernard Barlow of Detroit and five sisters, the Misses Pauline, Celia, and Belle Barlow, who reside in the family home at 362 Woodland; Mrs. Julius Rothschild and Mrs. Sidney S. Weinman, also of Detroit.

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Myron Barlow is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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