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 William Anderson Coffin  (1855 - 1925)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/New York      Known for: landscape and figure painting, illustration, art critic

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William Anderson Coffin
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Landscape and figure painter William Anderson Coffin was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1855.  After study at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, he left for Paris in 1877 to continue his art education.  Coffin studied in the atelier of academic artist Leon Bonnat, possibly for up to five years, where he painted the figure and continued drawing and painting from casts of classical sculpture that had first captured his interest at Yale.  Coffin exhibited in the Paris Salons* of 1879, 1880 and 1882.  The painting shown in 1879 represented the students at work in Bonnat's figure painting class.  His landscapes were influenced by the Barbizon Schoo*l of French artists.

In 1883, Coffin came to live and work in New York City, participating in many exhibitions, including the National Academy of Design* in 1889.  He was a fixture in the art world of his day, a well-known art critic who wrote articles for Scribner's and Harper's Weekly, among other publications.  Coffin held the position of art critic for the New York Evening Post from 1886-1891, and was art editor at the New York Sun from 1896-1901.

Coffin was an important figure in both the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, and Panama-Pacific Exposition* in 1915.  He directed the Fine Arts Division in the former, and helped organize the latter.  He was also involved in other artists' groups, holding office in several, including the Municipal Art Society and the American Fine Arts Society*.

His other memberships include the Lotos Club*, Architectural League* of New York and the National Academy of Design.  He received the Webb Prize from the Society of American Artists in 1891.  Coffin's work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D. C.

William Anderson Coffin died in New York City in 1925.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

William Coffin is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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