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 John Washington Love  (1850 - 1880)

About: John Washington Love
 

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: landscape, Indian portrait-crayon

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Ad Code: 4
John Washington Love
from Auction House Records.
still life with cherries
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from material developed for Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana by Tom Davis:

No artist buried at Crown Hill has a more fitting monument than John Love. Standing over six feet tall, as Love himself did, the limestone memorial is decorated on one side with an artist's palette and brushes. This serves as a reminder that Love, who was only thirty when he died, still had many paintings left to do, paintings which might have increased his stature in the history of art beyond that of a footnote as the co-founder of the first regular institution for the professional training of art students in the state of Indiana.

His most famous pupil, William Forsyth, a member of the Hoosier School, said this of his teacher: "In person he was tall, broad shouldered and distinguished, a handsome blond giant whose appearance would have attracted attention anywhere. . . The few extant canvases by Love attest to his power as a painter, and reflect both his foreign training and the germ of an individual style. . . . Mr. Love was hardly thirty when he died, and his death was a great loss not only to the state but to the country in all probability.
. . . Exceptionally trained, a splendid draughtsman and painter---quite the equal of Chase and Alden Weir and others who had been with him either at New York or abroad---there is no reason, had he lived, why he should not have developed into a leading light in art in this country" (from his centennial essay, Art in Indiana, p. 10).

Love was born in Ripley County in southeastern Indiana. The family moved to Indianapolis when he was 10, where he attended the local public schools before enrolling in Northwestern Christian University. But his main interest was art, and after studying under local artist, Barton S. Hays, who was also Chase's first teacher and Jacob Coxs main competitor from 1850 to 1883, he left town at the age of 20 for further studies in Cincinnati and New York before becoming one of the first Hoosiers to study abroad. From 1872-1876, Love was a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Atelier Gerome in Paris and his sketches were well represented in student expositions.

When he returned to Indianapolis in 1876, the "first exponent of the modern school of painting" in the words of historian J.P. Dunn, he was eager to improve the local artistic scene. With Terre Haute native James Farrington Gookins, who had just returned from studies in Munich, where T.C. Steele and William Forsyth would later go, Love opened The Indiana School of Art on October 15,1877. It occupied eleven rooms on the third floor of what was then the premier office building in the city, the Fletcher-Sharpe Building at the southwest corner of Washington and Pennsylvania and represented the joint effort of its two founders, three other teachers, and some eighty patrons. Its fifty pupils included some talented artists such as William Forsyth, and some of the scions of the city's leading families such as Hautie Tarkington, Booth
Tarkington's older sister.

But Gookins and Love disagreed on too many art ideals to continue long in partnership. So after one year, Gookins left with his "old school" ideas to set up a studio in Terre Haute. Unfortunately, most of the patrons were also "old school," and Love, with much help from Forsyth, was only able to keep the school open for one more year before financial difficulties forced it to close in 1879.

He continued to teach at his home until becoming too ill. After his early death on June 24, 1880, from what cemetery records call "congestion of the stomach," a former pupil told the Herald: "He was the most thorough teacher of art this city has ever had. . . . In drawing he was a master. He not only knew how to draw, but had a very happy faculty of imparting his instruction to others. His services to the public in creating an art impulse in Indianapolis cannot be overestimated. The fruits of this will be enjoyed in the future. An inherent art appreciation has been properly directed, and Mr. Love is entitled to the credit of its direction. His pupils are carrying out his ideas to their
full fruition. Though the young artist is dead his work will live" (Dunn, p. 484). William Forsyth was among those who carried him to his grave in the family plot on June 26th.

James Whitcomb Riley was one of Loves good friends, and one who
recognized his influence. After his friends death, he wrote the following poem in his memory.

His Last Picture
In Memoriam: John W. Love

The skies have grown troubled and dreary;
The clouds gather fold upon fold;
And the hand of the painter is weary
And the pencil has dropped from its hold:
The easel still leans in the grasses,
And the palette beside on the lawn,
But the rain oer the sketch as it passes
Weeps low - for the artist is gone.

The flowers whose fairy-like features
Smiled up in his own as he wrought,
And the leaves and the ferns were his teachers,
And the tints of the sun what they taught;
The low-swinging vines and the mosses
The shadow-filled boughs of the trees,
And the blossomy spray as it tosses
The song of the bird to the breeze.

The silent white laugh of the lily
He learned; and the smile of the rose
Glowed back on his spirit until he
Had mastered the blush as it glows;
And his pencil has touched and caressed them
And kissed them, through breaths of perfume,
To the canvas that yet shall have blessed them
With years of unwithering bloom.

Then come! Leave his palette and brushes
And easel there, just as his hand
Has left them, ere through the dark hushes
Of death, to the shadowy land,
He wended his way, happy-hearted
As when, in his youth, his rapt eyes
Swept the pathway of Fame where it started,
To where it wound into the skies.

copyright 2000 by Tom Davis

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