This following biography was researched, compiled, and written by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director, Southold Historical Society, Southold, NY.
FRANCIS STILLWELL DIXON (September 18, 1879 - January 6, 1967).
Painter and illustrator. Born in Queens, Long Island, Francis S. Dixon was born into a family of immense influence and wealth. His grandfather, the Hon. James W. Dixon (August 5, 1814 - March 27, 1873), served from 1857 to 1869 as the United States Senator from Connecticut. Francis's father, James Wyllys Dixon (1846 -1917), was a noted Civil War officer, respected journalist, and a prominent resident of Flushing, Long Island. He was named for his mother, Frances Stillwell (1856 - 1942), who was a descendant of one of the early settlers of Gravesend, Brooklyn, Long Island.
Francis was one of ten children (James, Francis, Louis, Elizabeth, Florence, Ada, Benjamin, Catherine, Wyllys, Mary), all who were born between 1877 and 1895. While many of his brothers went into more typical professions (brothers Benjamin and Harry became clerks), Francis was already by age twenty considered a fine painter and artist. He studied at the Art Students League, New York and with the noted artists Frank Vincent DuMond (1865-1951), Robert Henri (1865-1929), Charles W. Hawthorne (1872-1930), and Herbert S. Twachtman.
As an illustrator, Dixon turned his attentions to several different types of work. He was involved, along with fellow artists and draftsmen Edwin F. Tilley and Edward Straeffer, in preparing the illustrations for James E. Homans early treatise Self Propelled Vehicles - A Practical Treatise on the Theory, Construction, Operation, Care and Management of all forms of Automobiles, which was published in 1902. On occasion he also wrote articles for prominent publications such as House & Garden magazine.
Dixon traveled to California in 1915 where he lived in Los Angeles before returning to New York in 1917. During his time in California he is known to have stayed at or near both Carmel and Point Lobos, though only a few works depicting these areas have come to light. While in California he met and married Rosalie Hooker in 1915; she divorced him in Paris in 1925. He married again in 1929 to Ms. Emilie A. McMillan who survived him. His former wife (Rosalie) became a princess when she married Prince Leva Melikov de Somhitie in 1926.
During the United States involvement in World War I (1917-18) Dixon worked as an "Army and Navy Song Leader" for the War Department based out of New York City. A relatively accomplished singer, Dixon was known to have performed over the years for fellow artists at the Salmagundi Club in New York City.
Beginning in 1923 he traveled to Bermuda where he painted local scenery. He returned to Bermuda again in 1925 and during the early to mid 1920's he also traveled to Great Britain and Continental Europe. By the 1930's he was living on West 55th Street among several other artists, including Livingston Geer (b. 1888) and Norman Roberts (b. 1896).
The New York Times said of his works in 1927: "The paintings of Francis Dixon . . . . . . are romantic reports, with a dash of sombreness, on 'Passing Storms,' 'Sunny Cliffs' and mountain ranges. Mr. Dixon's art is excellent conventional painting of landscape."
Dixon exhibited prominently along the east coast, especially in New York City. These exhibitions included: The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1916; Folson Gallery, NY, 1917 (solo); Society of Independent Artists, New York, 1917-18, 1920-22, 1924; Salmagundi Club, New York, 1917-1940, 1943, 1945; National Academy of Design, New York, 1925; Babcock Galleries, New York, 1926 (solo), 1927 (solo); Studio Guild Galleries, New York, 1937; Women's University Club, New York, 1937 (solo); Barbizon-Plaza Galleries, New York, 1939; Allied Artists of America, New York, 1940; Number 10 Gallery, New York, 1941 (solo); Salons of America, New York, (undated).
He was a member of the following art organizations: Allied Artists of America, NY (Board Member - 1941); Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, CT; and the Salmagundi Club, NY (1917-1967).
Francis Stillwell Dixon died in New York City at his residence at 1349 Lexington Avenue on Friday, January 6, 1967 at the age of eighty-eight. His works are held in the following institutions: Morgan Memorial, Hartford, CT; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT; and many other public and private collections.