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 John Wesley Little  (1867 - 1923)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: landscape, animal, genre, mural

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John Wesley Little
An example of work by John Wesley Little
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John Wesley Little was born in 1867 near Forksville in Sullivan County, PA. While John Wesley was still a young child, his father moved to Picture Rocks, PA . Best known as "Wesley" the young John was introduced to the world of labor when he worked in the commissary (employee lunch room) at his father's ladder factory for which he was paid the princely sum of 12 1/2 cents per hour.

By 1884, he had established an interest in art. After gaining accolades in a local contest for a pencil sketch of a dog titled "Old Rover", he was encouraged by friends to continue with art. He went to New York in 1888 and stayed with family friends while he studied at the The National Academy of Design. His formal art education ended eight years later in 1896.

The next five summers were spent near Lewis Lake, Pennsylvania, where Wesley taught budding artists at the Eaglesmere Chautauqua Association for $2.50 per week. During the winter, he painted watercolors from sketches he made at earlier dates. It was during this period that he met Dr. William C. Martin who was to later become his friend and mentor.

In 1899, at the invitation of Academy school chum Harry M. Walcott, he went to Paris and indulged in extensive travel on the continent, returning in time to teach the summer season at Eaglesmere. He was soon 'discovered' by art buyers in Philadelphia and Williamsport. The notoriety, coupled with new found prosperity, enabled him to return to Paris, Brussels and Venice in the fall of 1899 through early 1900. When he returned to the U.S later in 1900, he met his future bride, Miss Susan Heim.

Wesley and his bride lived in Fort Washington, PA, where he became a lifelong member of the Sketch Club and Water Color Club of Philadelphia. The following five years found Wesley showing his work at many prominent art exhibits from St. Louis to South America. He made one more trip to Europe and England before moving his family in 1905 to Picture Rocks, PA. It is here that he remodeled an old barn into a studio.

In 1915, he traveled extensively in California, exhibiting his work and winning a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Exhibition for work he had done in England ten years earlier. He then went to South Dakota under contract to a rancher to produce three paintings. He was paid $500 and train fare.

Wesley and Susan had three children who all graduated from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. Wesley paid for their tuition with paintings in lieu of cash.


Compiled by Gerard Dunn December 2003 from a biographical paper on John Wesley Little by James Wright Little.

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John Little is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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