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 Francis Edgar Gates  (1863 - 1952)

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Lived/Active: New York/Iowa      Known for: theatre set designs, national park scene murals

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Fishing on the River Bank
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Francis Edgar Gates was born in Keokuk, Iowa on July 12, 1863. He studied music and painting as a youth, and worked as a scene painter’s assistant at Pope’s Theatre in St. Louis while attending the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, Washington University.  By age 19, he had become principal painter at Pope’s.

In 1894 Francis entered into a partnership with Edward A. Morange, forming  Gates and Morange Studios located at  530 West  47th Street in New York City.  His brother Richard Henry Gates later joined the firm.  The firm was successful and quickly rose to prominence, completing many important set designs for producers including, Florenz Ziegfeld, Harrison Grey Fiske, Arthur Hammerstein, and the Schuberts.

While scenic design was their primary focus, Gates and Morange also accepted commissions, including one from the federal government to capture the scenic beauty of the “National Reservations”,  today’s National Parks: The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier Park.  The large murals resulting from this commission were displayed at the various exhibitions and World Fairs.  The firm also contributed works for the 1903 Lewis and Clark Centennial and later, General Motors exhibit for the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition.

Francis Gates continued the partnership until the firm closed in 1942.  The original models and designs of Gates and Morange are part of the permanent collection of Brander Matthews Dramatical Museum at Columbia College in New York City. 

Gates married Melinda J. Neil, who died in 1945.  He was a longtime resident of Bronxville, New York where he died on December 18, 1952.
Membership: Salmagundi Club, New York City

1) Who Was Who In American Art, Sound View Press 1985, Page 225
2) The Society of Independent Artists, The Exhibition Record, 1917-1944 by Clark S. Marlor, page 254
3) A Book About The Theatre by Brander Matthews 1916, Charles Scribners Sons “Garden of Allah” pages 147-149

Exhibitions: “Behind American Footlights” Metropolitan Museum of Art 1949

Submitted by Roland Britch, Jr

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