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 Samuel Hester Crone  (1858 - 1913)

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Lived/Active: Tennessee / Germany      Known for: landscape, figure and historical genre painting, drawing

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
African American Genre Scene
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A turn-of-the-century expatriate artist born in Columbia, Tennessee, and raised in Memphis, Samuel Crone did hundreds of drawings and paintings of wide-ranging subjects including allegory, historical genre, intimate portraits, and landscapes.

Although he was highly talented and prolific, he has had little attention paid to his career during his lifetime or afterward, likely because he was an expatriate for his entire adult life. Relative to style and subjects, he was not a trailblazer, but he was a diligent student with academic skills. His career of moving away from narrative subjects to the more picturesque and spontaneous also mirrored what was happening in general among artists of his era.

Critics tend to think that his drawings have much more character and distinction than his paintings, which some regard as overly sentimental and commonplace. But he made his living from selling his oil paintings, a major outlet being the Moderne Galerie in Munich, which also handled the work of modernist Wassilj Kandinsky.

A special exhibition of his work at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg and a 1997 exhibition at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis aroused much appreciation and curiosity about his talents.

Crone spent his entire adulthood in Europe, primarily Germany, where he arrived in 1877 and enrolled in the Royal Art Academy in Munich.  He stayed in that city for ten years and traveled widely throughout the Continent and England.  In 1885, he married Sadie, who became a model for many of his female figures.  After their wedding, they made an extensive trip to the United States where he introduced her to his family, and then they returned to Germany where they lived a total of thirty-six years.

He spent much time copying and learning from the Old Masters, and his drawings reflected his interest in linearity. Many of his landscapes were tonalist and romantic in style and show his wide-ranging travels including extensive sketching in Italy.

At the age of 55, he with Sadie decided to return to the United States, but a few days after arriving in 1913, he got pneumonia and died.  If he had been able to circulate in the United States, he likely would have been more appreciated as an artist. But his premature death caused him to be on the shelf with other expatriate artists--literally out of sight and out of mind.

All his possessions and unsold artwork he left to his wife, and from her family members inherited the collection.  William Huff, a Grandson of the wife's sister and a Yale-trained architect, inherited from his mother's estate the drawings, which had been left together.  Huff spent many years researching Crone and locating his artwork amongst the family, and the culmination of this research was the book and accompanying exhibit: "A Return to Memphis: The Art of Samuel Hester Crone."

Leslie Lubbers, A Return to Memphis: The Art of Samuel Hester Crone, 1858-1913

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