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 Edward Von Siebold Dingle  (1893 - 1975)

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Lived/Active: South Carolina      Known for: wildlife-birds

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Edward Von Siebold Dingle
An example of work by Edward Von Siebold Dingle
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Lake High:

Edward Von Siebold Dingle grew up on a plantation just outside of the city of Charleston where he was born in 1893. His mother was a noted painter of birds and she helped guide him from an early age. When he proudly produced his first bird drawing at the age of twelve he had started on a path that he would stay on for the rest of his life. From that precocious start ornithology became both his artistic and his scientific passion. Indeed, while art collectors know him for his splendid watercolors of hundreds of different birds, in scientific circles he is remembered for discovering and recording five new bird species.

Dingle followed in the scientific and artistic footsteps of John James Audubon in that he painted from specimens he collected in the wild. His collection of over 1,000 bird skins, one of the nation's most complete, is now housed in the Charleston Museum. But Dingle was more than just an artistic recorder of bird life; he was a serious student of ornithology. It is said that the research he did for just one of his bird series (the warbler) took him to Canada, Harvard, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the universities of Michigan, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

Dingle is virtually a self-taught artist but he did receive some training under Alfred Hutty, the famous Charleston Etchers Club member, who was teaching in Charleston at the time. He received criticism from one of the world's outstanding bird painters, Louis Fuertes, and from noted Charleston watercolorist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. And he also received help and criticism from Miss Laura Bragg, who was then the director of the Charleston Museum.

Dingle had 15 pieces in the first American exhibition of bird paintings, which was held in Los Angeles in 1926. In 1934 he exhibited 67 works in a one-man show at the Museum of Natural History in New York. It was that show that brought him nationwide notice as a major American artist. He also exhibited at the first national Art Exhibition of American Artists in New York in 1937. He exhibited with the Southern States Art league in 1938 and at the Worlds Fair in New York in 1939.

His watercolor and gouache paintings almost always show both the male and female of the species of bird he is rendering and oftentimes shows juvenile birds in the same painting. He includes some backgrounds that illustrate the habitat of his subjects.

The painting of birds is remarkably demanding in that it allows for little artistic license while demanding scrupulous accuracy and Dingle's drawings, as beautiful as they are accurate, have been featured in numerous scientific publications. His paintings have also been used to illustrate various bird books including the highly collectable "South Carolina Bird Life"(E. Burnham Chambelain; USC Press, 1970).

His body of work is large with over 3,000 painting being produced in his long lifetime. Some of his watercolors have been reproduced and copies are seen in reprint galleries and tourist spots all through the Carolina low country.

In 1975 Edward Dingle died at age 82 at his home at Middleburg plantation. He lies buried in the quiet Pompion Hill Episcopal Church cemetery, which is next to his plantation home. The present 230 plus years old Pompion Hill Chapel, built in 1763, is nestled in a peaceful spot on the banks of the Cooper River. There the churchyard and the surrounding area teem with native birds. There blue herons wing by, woods ibis rest in low-lying trees, wrens fuss in the underbrush and towhees diligently search the fallen leaves. It is the perfect resting place for one of the South's best loved painters of bird life.

Edward Von Siebold Dingle's works can be seen in various public collections including The Gibbes Museum in Charleston, The Cambridge Museum in Massachusetts, the Columbia Museum in South Carolina, the Morris Museum in Georgia and at the University of the South in Tennessee, among others.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

Edward von Siebold Dingle was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 18, 1893. As a boy he lived on a plantation near the Santee River and developed an early interest in birds and in drawing them. He graduated from the College of Charleston, but as an artist was self-taught, except for some instruction in landscape from Alfred Hutty.

About 1923, when Dingle was living in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, he took up art as a career and combined it with his avocation of ornithology. He collected over a thousand bird specimens, from a four-foot albatross to a half-inch hummingbird, and learned from Arthur Trezevant Wayne how to prepare and preserve them (The collection is now at the Charleston Museum). Painting live birds from dead specimens was not simply a matter of copying. As Dingle explained, "It takes years of research to become a bird painter. You must have accurate scientific knowledge of how the feathers of a particular bird grow, and how their bones and muscles are placed."

Dingle's primary medium was watercolor, and he painted birds against landscape and foliage backgrounds which suggested their natural habitats. Each painting featured not only an adult male and an adult female, but a juvenile or post-juvenile bird also. He painted birds in families. The largest family he painted was the Warbler Family, which required sixty-one paintings. Research for that series took Dingle to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Charleston Museum, the national and royal museums of Canada. Harvard University, the universities of Oklahoma, Minnesota and Michigan, and to several institutions in California. In 1963 his Warbler series was exhibited at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston.

Dingle had fourteen watercolors and a charcoal sketch in the first American exhibition of bird paintings, held in Los Angeles in 1926. In 1937 some of his works were included in the First National Exhibition of American Artists at Rockefeller Center in New York. His works also were exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in Canada.

He is represented in the permanent collections of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, at the Cambridge Museum in Massachusetts, the Carolina Art Association and the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston. His paintings were reproduced in numerous scientific periodicals, and in books like {South Carolina Bird Life}, where {Tufted Titmouse} appears. The Tufted Titmouse, also called the Tomtit or Peter Bird for its call "peto-peto-peto," is common throughout the eastern United States and west of the Mississippi River to about eastern Nebraska. It is among the smallest North American birds with a crested head. Dingle's research led to the addition of six species to the list of South Carolina birds: Cory's shearwater, Eastern glossy ibis, Leache's petrel, European widgeon and Clay-colored sparrow.

After 1927, when Dingle married Marie G. Ball, they lived at Middleburg Plantation in Huger, South Carolina. He died on April 21, 1975.

THE SOUTH ON PAPER: LINE, COLOR AND LIGHT, Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc., Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1985, p. 35.

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