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 Edward Chalmers Leavitt  (1842 - 1904)

About: Edward Chalmers Leavitt
 

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Lived/Active: Rhode Island      Known for: fruit and floral still life and seascape painting

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Ad Code: 3
Edward Chalmers Leavitt
from Auction House Records.
Still life of cherries, grapes, oranges, pears, a vase and a stein on a table
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward Chalmers Leavitt, artist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, March 9, 1842, the son of Rev. Jonathan and Charlotte Esther (Stearns) Leavitt.  His paternal ancestor was John Leavitt, who came to Masachusetts Bay in the first ship and settled in Hingham.  On the maternal side, he is descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullens, who came to Plymouth in the Mayflower.

Leavitt was educated in private schools in Providence, and at Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, New Hampshire.  During the Civil War in 1862 and 1863, he served in the navy on the U.S.S. Galena.  In his profession of artist, Mr. Leavitt is especially noted as a painter of fruit, flowers and still life.

He exhibited in the National Academy for several years, and has made many successful exhibitions in Providence and Boston.  He was a member of the Boston and Providence art clubs, and the Providence Press Club.  He was also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.  In politics his proclivities are mainly Republican.  He has been twice married: first, May 19, 1877, to Ellen M. Fuller; and second, April 22, 1880, to Elizabeth S. Chace.

Submitted November 2004 by Edward Bentley, Art Collector and Researcher from Lansing, Michigan.

Source is the publication "Men of Progress: Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Leaders in Business and Professional Life from the State of Rhode Island." New England magazine. 1896.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward C. Leavitt, born in 1842, has been described as "Providence, Rhode Island's leading still-life painter" in the late 19th Century.  (Zellman 324)  His teacher, James Morgan Lewin, was a prominent still-life painter in Fall River, Massachusetts, a neighboring town.

Leavitt, a detailed, sharp-focused, realistic painter, was in love with texture and light, and was prolific and successful, painting a variety of still life subjects including flowers, fruit and even fish and dead game animals.  His objects, including costly antiques and household decorative items, were often placed on ornamental, gleaming surfaces.

He was a frequent exhibitor at the National Academy of Design in the 1870s and 1890s.  The artist, who died in 1904, moved from a position of success and popularity to being ignored for many years until the publication of William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke's American Still-Life Painting in 1971.  It is uncertain whether this disastrous loss of respect took place because Leavitt's work declined in quality during the last decade of his life, or because he was a victim of the periodic shifts in taste and fashion that afflict the arts.

Sources:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art


Biography from Roger King Fine Art, H - P:
Edward Leavitt was one of the leading still life artists of nineteenth century New England.  He lived and worked in Providence, and studied with James Morgan Lewin, a leading painter of the Fall River School, which, in the late 19th Century, was one of the most important centers of still life painting.

While Lewin branched out into other types of painting, Leavitt remained devoted to the art of the still life.  His paintings are sharply focused, realistic, and carefully finished. Ornate objects such as urns, ewers, platters, cut glassware and opulent fabrics are arranged with fruit and flowers on highly polished, reflective surfaces, creating dramatic decorative effects.

Prolific and highly acclaimed, Leavitt exhibited at the National Academy, Boston Art Club and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  His work inspired other still life painters in Providence, resulting in that city's own still life tradition, including artists John Clinton Spencer, Bryant Chapin, Charles Storer and George Whitaker.


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