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 Deane Keller  (1901 - 1992)

About: Deane Keller
 

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Lived/Active: Connecticut      Known for: portrait, harbor view, landscape, figure paintings

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from Auction House Records.
Homage to Velasquez'
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Deane Keller was known for his portrait painting, and many of his portraits can be viewed in their original settings in the halls of Yale University Buildings.  They can also be seen in the hallways of buildings including the Masonic Temple, the City Hall and the Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut.  Keller's portrait of Senator Robert Taft of Ohio is in the Senate Reception Chamber of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.  Keller's portrait style was realistic, capturing recognizable features of the sitters and portraying them in a classic dignified manor.

Most of his portraits were commissioned by institutions that sought to honor the individual for his or her accomplishments.  Many are posed in academic robes or formal attire that would accentuate their professionalism.  In the Dutch tradition, especially of Franz Halls (1583-1666), colors tend to be somber, clothing is dark or neutral, and emphasis is placed on the position of the head and hands.  Many times Keller incorporated an identifiable shield or coat of arms against a dark background.  A good example of Keller's style is in his 1958 official portrait of Elizabeth Seelye Bixler, who was the Third Dean of the Yale School of Nursing.  She is posed with academic cap and gown looking out, and in the background is a lighted lamp, symbolic of her enlightening teaching.

Keller also painted murals, and one of them is in the main public library in New Haven, and another is in Shriver Hall at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Keller's career was accelerated in the 1920s when he received the Prix de Rome in 1926 for three-years study at the American Academy in Rome, Italy.  From 1930 to the 1970s except during the war years, Keller was a Professor of portrait painting and figure drawing at The Yale School of Fine Arts, and from 1955, he also taught at the Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut.  As a figure in the American art world, he became controversial because his style was traditional, which was counter to the prevalent avant-garde movements of the latter half of the 20th century.

From 1943 to 1946, Deane Keller served in Florence, Italy with the US Fifth Army as a Captain and as Chief of the Fine Arts Division.  His duties includied tracing works of art stolen from museums and public places by the Nazis.  Some of the works were discovered near the Austrian border including pieces by Botticelli, Duccio, Giambono and Michelangelo that were carelessly stockpiled by the retreating Nazis.  Keller kept detailed records of the thefts and oversaw restoration of many monuments and supervised their safe return to the original places of installation.

Keller is credited by his biographer Catherine Roach for uncovering many significant world class treasures during this war-time assignment and for making extensive records including photos, documents and other pertinent materials that were used by his team to retrieve National treasures.  The material was left to the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale by Keller's widow Kathrine H. Keller.

Deane Keller died in 1992, survived by his wife and two sons.  One of his sons is Deane G. Keller, an artist who studied under his father at Yale and earned a B.A. degree in 1962.  The younger Keller is a drawing teacher at The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

Submitted December 2004 by Jim Kieley of Woodbury, Connecticut.

Sources are the Yale Alumni Magazine and article by Cathrine Roach BA.  Various school catalogues, associates and students of the artist, and direct observation of
Keller's portraits.
Peter Hastings Falk (ed.) Who Was Who in American Art


Biography from Knights Of Columbus Museum:


Further biographical information on Deane Keller and family, submitted in May of 2006 by Mary Lou Cummings, curator/registrar at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut.

Deane Keller's wife, Katherine Parkhurst Hall Keller died on Sept. 13, 2003, in Hamden, Connecticut, age 91.  She too was a graduate of the Yale School of Fine Arts and pursued decorative arts restoration, specializing in gilding and theorem painting. She also served on the administrative staff of the Paier College of Art.

Their younger son, Deane Galloway Keller died suddenly, on Jan. 4, 2005.  He was a Professor of Drawing and Anatomy at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, Conn. for 27 years.


After his death in 1992, Capt. Deane Keller was honored by the citizens of Pisa and officials of Campo Santo by being laid to rest there.( Source: Rescuing Da Vinci, by Robert M.Edsel, Dallas, Texas 2006 p. 265)


Mary Lou Cummings
1968 Graduate of Paier College of Art
Studied under Deane Keller while attending the above


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