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 William Moore Davis  (1829 - 1920)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: still life, landscape, marine and genre painting, drawing, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
William Moore Davis
from Auction House Records.
Flowers and Fruit of Septem
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Setauket, New York William Davis was a painter of trompe l'oeil still life, genre, and landscapes and was primarily self taught.  He trained as a boat builder in Port Jefferson, Long Island.

Davis achieved national recognition in 1962 for three paintings based on the Civil War. The Neglected Picture, a trompe l'oeil image of President Jefferson Davis in a frame behind broken glass brought him great fame.  The painting was widely reproduced in print and postcard form.  In 1868, Davis exhibited still-life paintings at the National Academy of Design.  From 1863-1871, he exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association.

In 1872, he moved to Long Island and never again exhibited in New York, possibly because some of his painting was politically controversial.

He associated with William Sidney Mount, and some persons found a strong resemblance in their painting, suggesting that Davis copied from Mount.

Eva Greguski, "William Moore Davis", American Art Review, 12/2002, p. 118

Biography from Questroyal Fine Art, LLC:
William M. Davis spent most of his life painting and living in the area he loved best, Port Jefferson, Long Island.  There he befriended renowned genre painter William Sidney Mount, who lived nearby in Stony Brook.  Apparently self-taught, Davis was profoundly influenced by Mount, who was one of the most respected painters in America at that time.  Although Davis was never a pupil of Mount's, surviving letters between the two artists show that Mount often gave the younger painter artistic advice and guidance.

Davis opened a studio in New York City in 1868, but in 1872, he retur ned permanently to the Port Jefferson area, where he was affectionately known as "Painter Davis." Mount had died four years earlier, and to a degree, Davis continued in his mentor's footsteps, providing locals with paintings of villagers pursuing their daily tasks, the area's quiet bays and coves, as well as boats anchored or at sea.

Davis exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association while living in New York City.  Once he returned to Long Island, he exhibited exclusively in Port Jefferson, with the exception of a one-man show in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1894. According to the Bridgeport Daily Standard, Davis showed 135 of his works and had over 700 people in attendance.

A major retrospective titled Port Jefferson's Foremost Painter: W.M. Davis was held at the Historical Society Museum of Greater Port Jefferson in 1973. 

Davis' works are housed in prestigious private collections and institutions, including the Suffolk Museum, Stony Brook, N.Y; the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, and the New York State Historical Society, Cooperstown.

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