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 Francis Lee Jaques  (1887 - 1969)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois/Minnesota      Known for: wildlife, genre, illustrator, views

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Ad Code: 3
Francis Lee Jaques
from Auction House Records.
Seven Swans
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Jaques was born September 28, 1887 in Geneseo, Illinois.  Family moved to Elmo near Topeka in 1899 and it was there that Jaques first became conscious of the variety and migration of birds. The family also lived near Durham before, in 1903, moving to northern Minnesota.  Began working in a taxidermy shop then, in 1913, worked for the railroad.  Served in World War I then
studied art with Clarence Rosenkranz.  During the early 1920s, Jacques secured a position as an illustrator and in 1924 was hired as a staff artist by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  His assignment was to produce large dioramas and background paintings for exhibits and to accompany museum expeditions.  Jacques retired from the museum in 1942 to do freelance work as a wildlife painter, an illustrator, and producing museum dioramas. Designed a duck stamp in 1940 for Ducks Unlimited.  Supplied illustrations to magazines such as Outdoor Life and Field and Stream and contributed color illustrations for books like The Birds of Minnesota (1932), Snowshoe Country (1944), Canoe Country (1938) and The Singing Wilderness (1956).  During his prolific career, Jaques painted some 50 diorama backgrounds, completed numerous oil paintings and studies, and illustrated over 40 books. Moved back to Minnesota in 1953.

Collections: American Museum of Natural History; Peabody Museum; Museum of
Science, Boston; James Ford Bell Museum, Minneapolis.
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
AskART,, accessed Oct. 19, 2007; Jaques, Florence Page. Francis Lee Jaques: Artist of the Wilderness World (Garden City: Doubleday, 1973); Luce, Don T. Francis Lee Jaques, Artist-Naturalist (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1982).
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Growing up in Kansas and living primarily in Minnesota, Francis Jaques became an avid hunter and one of America's premier wildlife artists.

As a youngster, he sketched in his spare time, and by the age of 16, had already had work published in "Field and Stream" magazine. He won national acclaim for his work as staff artist for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He did a wealth of paintings, illustrations, murals, wildlife dioramas and traveled with the museum's world wide scientific expeditions.

His depiction of two black ducks in flight was chosen for the Federal Duck Stamp in 1940-41.

He is referenced in the periodical American Girl, February 1937 in an article by Florence Page titled A Bird Group for the Museum.

Biography from Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts, LLC:
Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969)

Francis Lee Jaques was born September 28, 1887 in Geneseo, Illinois. As a boy, he loved duck hunting, particularly black ducks and spent many hours hunting with his father. When Jaques was twelve his family moved to Kansas and turned to farming corn. As a young man Jaques opened a taxidermy shop, but never achieved much financial success. However, his background in agriculture and hunting taught him a great deal about birds and this translated into the stunning realism he was able to capture in his work.

In 1913, Jaques worked as a coal stoker on the railroad, which fulfilled his desire to work with trains. However, in 1917, before shipping out for the war, Jaques saw an art exhibit in San Francisco and this experience led him to realize alternative ways to express his love of nature by creating art. When Jaques returned from the war he began to paint with oils, studying with Clarence Rosenkranz who was a student of Charles Merritt Chase, an early impressionist.

At the age of 40, Jaques was hired as a staff museum artist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He spent the next eighteen years at the museum, painting fifty large dioramas and backgrounds for the exhibits. His career as a museum artist grew, and he was commissioned to paint habitat group backdrops for the Peabody Museum at Yale, in New Haven; the Museum of Science in Boston; and the James Ford Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota, among others.

Jaques realistic depiction of wildfowl also garnered him work painting illustrations for Field and Stream. In 1940, he painted his first duck stamp for Ducks Unlimited for which he selected a
black duck.

As a staff member of the American Museum of Natural History Jaques traveled widely for research purposes, visiting the Arctic Circle and the South Pacific. These travels gave him the opportunity to sketch and paint many species in their native habitats.

At age fifty-five, Jaques retired from the American Museum of Natural History and subsequently completed a painting each month for Outdoor Life, as well as taking on freelance work painting museum dioramas. In 1953, he and his wife moved from New York City to Minnesota and he
built a miniature railroad on their property. At this point, Jaques painted for pleasure, not necessarily for profit, and he continued to travel selling his work at one man shows. He donated many gratis illustrations for charity and educational purposes as well as authoring a number of books with his wife, who was a solid supporter of his work and assisted with its marketing.

In 1969 Jaques died of a pulmonary embolism at age eighty-one.

Biography from Kramer Gallery, Inc.:
Francis Lee Jaques (pronounced JAY-kweez), often known as Lee Jaques, was a prolific wildlife artist whose work achieved both scientific and popular acclaim. His pictures combine accuracy of species and habitat with a pleasing sense of design and color.

Jaques grew up in the rural Midwest and taught himself drawing and taxidermy. Following service in World War I, he worked as a commercial artist and took lessons from C. C. Rosencranz in Duluth, Minnesota. Jaques moved to New York to work as a staff artist at the American Museum of Natural History in 1924, and there began a distinguished career as a painter-illustrator for exhibits and publications. After retiring from the museum in the 1940s, he painted museum exhibits around the country, settling in Minnesota in the following decade. He also painted covers and illustrations for sporting magazines.

Jaques made illustrations for numerous scientific and popular publications, including the nature writings of his wife Florence Page Jaques and Minnesota environmentalist Sigurd Olson. He contributed color illustrations for books like THE BIRDS OF MINNESOTA (1932), and elegant scratchboard drawings for his wife’s SNOWSHOE COUNTRY and CANOE COUNTRY and Olson’s 1956 THE SINGING WILDERNESS.

Jaques designed and painted dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History and in the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis. Combining the forced perspectives of painted landscape backdrops with actual plant and animal specimens, the dioramas recreated natural habitats for the exacting educational purposes of the museums.


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