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 Reynolds Beal  (1866 - 1951)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Rhode Island      Known for: impressionist maritime, circus genre and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 2
Reynolds Beal
from Auction House Records.
Echo Bay, New Rochelle
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in New York City, Reynolds Beal's year of birth is reported as being 1866 as well as 1867.  If one follows the most extensively researched source produced in consultation with the Beal family (essay by Ann E. Berman), the year of 1866 is the accurate one.

Beal became a prominent East Coast marine and landscape painter.  He had a great interest in yachting and did numerous maritime subjects.

He studied naval architecture at Cornell University and painting at William Merritt Chase's Shinnecock Summer School.  His younger brother was Gifford Beal, and supported by family money, Reynolds traveled and painted widely including to Portugal, the Caribbean, and the West Coast.

He used a variety of styles including Impressionism and Tonalism.  As he got older, his work became more complex and vibrant with a mosaic of brush strokes.  In addition to oils, he was admired as a watercolorist, and he and Gifford made Rockport, Massachusetts their home.  His studio overlooked Rockport's Inner Harbor, from where he drew and etched many harbor scenes.

Sources include:
Peter Hastings Falk (Editor), Who Was Who in American Art
Biographical essay by Ann E. Berman in Bressler, Sidney. Reynolds Beal: Impressionist Landscapes and Seascapes (Associated University Presses, 1989)
William Vareika Fine Arts, Ltd.

Biography from Turak Gallery of American Art:
Reynolds Beal, born on October 11, 1867 in New York City, was both a painter and an etcher.  He was a man of independent means, and was thus able to devote his life to his art without having always to appeal to the tastes of his patrons or to contemporary trends.  In fact, Beal was thought of as "one of the adventurous experimenters" of his day and was considered "Modernist".  Today he is recognized as being an important American Impressionist.

Reynolds Beal began his education at Cornell University studying naval architecture. Although this constitutes his first artistic experience, it was not until the years following graduation that Beal became serious about a painting career.

Throughout the early 1890s he studied with William Merritt Chase at Chase's school in Shinnecock, Long Island.  Later, he studied in Europe, spending most of his time in Madrid.  Another facet of his education was time spent with his contemporaries, traveling with his younger brother Gifford, or with H. Dudley Murphy and Childe Hassam.  He worked with Henry Ward Ranger on numerous occasions as well.  Encouragement by their peers was an important part of their efforts toward artistic development.

Beal lived for many years in Massachusetts, both in Rockport and in Gloucester.  His subject matter was often times scenes from these locales.  Beal also took scenes from various places in New York, down the eastern seaboard all the way to Miami, Florida, focusing always on marine and boating subjects.

His work was well received when he began to exhibit late in the nineteenth century; he won many prizes.  In 1919 he was chosen as one of the few Americans whose work was to be exhibited at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris, a great honor for an American artist at that time.

Beal was active in the art community. He was a member of the American Watercolor Society, the Society of American Engravers, the Salmagundi Club, National Arts Club, and in 1909 was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design. Also, the progressive artist that he was, he founded the Society of Independent Artists and the New Society of Artists, which consisted of fifty of the most important painters of the day, including George Bellows, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, John Sloan, and William Glackens, to name just a few.

After the late 1920s, Beal was stricken with an illness and ceased to produce many paintings.  His most prolific artistic period falls between 1910 - 1920.  Beal died in 1951.


Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Reynolds Beal (American, 1867-1951):

Reynolds Beal was born in New York City in 1867, and he showed artistic ability from an early age. He first studied at Cornell University (naval architecture), but seriously studied painting with William Merritt Chase in Shinnecock, Long Island in the 1890s and then went to Europe to study with Henry Ward Ranger.

From the beginning, Beal’s playful, sparkling, fun-filled, life-experiencing subjects were popular and he made a living painting.  By the 1920s, he was known for his original, colorful and entirely delightful subject matter in oil, pastel/crayon and watercolor.

With his brother Gifford Beal (also a painter), H. Dudley Murphy and Childe Hassam, Beal painted and traveled.  In 1919 he was selected with Hassam, Glackens and other prestigious painters to exhibit at the Luxembourg in Paris.  He exhibited at the Clauson Gallery (NY) and Kraushaar Gallery (NY) as early as 1929 and by 1934 he was an active participant in the Salmagundi Club, Lotus Club, Century Club, National Academy of Design and the American Water Color Society.

Considered a “modernist,” he helped found the Society of Independent Artists and the New Society of Artists with Bellows, Hassam, Sloan, Glackens and Prendergast.

Because illness prevented Beal to paint in oil as spontaneously as he would have liked, by 1940 he almost stopped painting, much to the dismay of the art world.  Almost all of his work is signed, dated and often inscribed.

He adored the beach in Provincetown, Key West, Rockport, Atlantic City and Wellfleet, circus scenes and carnivals and many of his best works convey those themes.  Often called “The American Van Gogh,” because of his luscious thick avenues of paint and “the American Chagall” because of his playful subjects, Beal is one of America’s finest impressionists.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Often referred to as “the American Van Gogh,” Reynolds Beal was a leading early twentieth century impressionist.  His lifelong love of the water was borne out in brilliant seascapes and marine subjects, while more whimsical works executed in lively colors identified him as an aesthetic adventurer.

Born to an affluent New York City family, Beal studied naval architecture at Cornell University. Following his graduation, he toured the great art capitals of Europe before entering formal study with William Merritt Chase on Long Island
in the early 1890s. Liberated by independent means and encouraged by his younger brother, the well known painter Gifford Beal, Reynolds was able to travel extensively throughout the United States, Caribbean, Central America, and Europe, often in the company of leading artists such as Childe Hassam, H. Dudley Murphy, and William Glackens. Based in Rockport, Massachusetts, he also worked extensively with Henry Ward Ranger during the first decade of the new century.

Beal had his first one-man show in 1905 and, in 1909, was elected an associate
member of the National Academy of Design. In 1919, Beal was one of few Americans selected to exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum, a high honor for artists of the day. Progressive in both spirit and technique, he was one of the founders of the Society of Independent Artists and the New Society of Artists.

Depicted in a crisp palette that conveys a sense of brisk ocean breezes, Atlantic waters play a central role in Beal’s canvases, Atlantic waters play a central role in Beal’s canvases. In the 1910s and 1920s, he painted a series of light-hearted,
spontaneous scenes of traveling circuses.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the Hicklin Galleries, LLC.


Biography from Roger King Fine Art, A - G:
From an affluent and artistic family, Reynolds Beal and his younger brother Gifford both made careers in art.  Beal was born in the Bronx and spent his childhood exploring and sketching the East River.  He studied marine engineering at Cornell, and art at the Art Students League with John Twachtman and with William Merritt Chase at the Shinnecock School.

For many years he was torn between careers in art and ship designing, though his family's affluence allowed him to maintain a lifestyle as both and artist and a yachtsman.  He spent years between marine-related jobs and life as an artist, often plagued by problems related to "nervous prostation".  He traveled and painted with Childe Hassam, William Glackens and H. Dudley Murphy, and with Hassam, Bellows, Sloan, Glackens and Prendergast helped found the Society of Independent Artists and the New Society of Artists.

From 1900 to 1907, he painted almost exclusively at the artist's community in Noank, Connecticut with Henry Ward Ranger.  After 1912, Beal focused more on the Hudson River Valley, where he painted the colorful and whimsical scenes of the traveling circuses that came through the region. For many years he lived and painted harbor scenes in Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Beal is considered both an Impressionist and an adventurous Modernist.  His colorful watercolors and oils are rendered in spontaneous, mosaic-like brush strokes. He was most active artistically from 1910 to 1920, after which he became ill.  After 1940 he did little painting.  He died in Rockport, Massachusetts in 1951.


Biography from VALLEJO GALLERY, LLC, Marine Art Specialists:
An important American impressionist, Reynolds Beal was encouraged early on to study art abroad by his younger brother, noted artist Gifford Beal.  Once Reynolds completed his education from Cornell University in naval architecture, and being from a rather wealthy family, he struck out for Europe, where he informally viewed as much art as he could, primarily in Madrid.  Once stoked, his lifelong fire for painting never waned.

Beal’s formal art education began in 1890 under William Merritt Chase in his famous Long Island school.  Although similar, Beal’s technic is more subdued in application and more vivid in coloration than that for which Chase is known.  Inevitably, Beal’s nautical education led him to paint primarily ships and waterways.  His individual style broadened from early technical portraiture to the surreal impressionist tableaus of broad, sweeping coastal vistas, most often possessing ships as distant subjects.

Works by Beal show the various regions he visited over his life.  Owning a residence in Provincetown, Rhode Island, northeast coast scenes dominate his output up to 1919.  He then began traveling the world more extensively.  Occasionally accompanied by Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, H. Dudley Murphy and Henry Ward Ranger, Beal painted scenes of the Caribbean, Central America, Portugal and the American west coast.  He is widely known for a series of circus paintings he produced in the 1910s and 1920s. 

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Reynolds Beal is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
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