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 John Paul Manship  (1927 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: town-landscape, mural, sculptor

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Ad Code: 3
John Paul Manship
from Auction House Records.
Hilliard's Frameshop/A Rockport View
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter John Paul Manship, son of internationally-recognized sculptor Paul Manship, was born in New York on January 16, 1927, where the family had been moved by his mother, Isabel, prior to his birth to avoid any possible later conscription in the French army. Young Manship's road to art seems to have been a hesitant one, perhaps because of his father's fame. Though he painted theatrical sets at The Buckley School in New York City; was encouraged in art during brief attendance at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; and was introduced to abstract painting at the High School of Music and Art (today's LaGuardia High School) by high school friends who had studied with Hans Hoffmann (1880-1966); Manship nonetheless enrolled at the Mannes College of Music, hoping to become a composer. Then he transferred to Harvard with the idea of becoming a philosopher.

In his Harvard dormitory room, Manship painted for himself in a semi-abstract, highly stylized manner. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1948. Manship went to Europe for three years, financed by a bequest from Grace Rainey Rogers, his godmother. Deciding to be a painter after all, Manship began to paint realistically in 1951. Due to the over-riding influence of Abstract-Expressionism, it was a difficult time to be a realist. Four years later, Manship returned to Italy for a ten-year period. He studied at the Brera School in Milan. During these early years in Europe, Manship painted landscapes in oil and gouache in the style of Baroque painters such as Bernardo Cavallino (1616-1654/56) and Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez (1599-1660). He exhibited in both Italy and Germany.

Converting to Roman Catholicism shortly after graduating from Harvard, Manship hoped for commissions from the Church in order to express his faith. But fourteen hammered-copper reliefs of the life of Christ were rejected in Rome in 1964 because the Dominican Sisters thought the Virgin Mary's hemline just below the knee was too risque.

Manship did complete sixteen eight-foot-tall paintings of the Stations of the Cross, Supper at Emmaus, and Pentecost for St. Clements Church in Warwick, Rhode Island. Other murals are his Baptism of Christ in the Baptistery of New York's St. John the Martyr and one for the chapel at the Sacred Heart Convent in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

In later years, primarily painting watercolors, Manship was elected an honorary member of the American Watercolor Society in 2000. He depends on the world around him for inspiration and likes to think of himself as "a portraitist of places."

John Paul Manship's exploration of sculpture is more recent. Significantly, it was not until his father's death in 1966 that Manship began to sculpt. He has a propensity for nudes in motion in common with his father's work. Moreover, both father and son have fashioned small, intimate figural groups which incorporate exotic, naturally occurring stone formations. Paul Manship called these works his "pet creations" and his son John has described them as lyric poems, as his father's most deeply personal works. It might be said that through these works John Paul Manship has reclaimed his place by his father's side.

Manship is a member of the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, the National Society of Mural Painters, the Arts Club of Washington, the National Sculpture Society, Artists Equity, and Southern Vermont Art Center.

John Paul Manship is represented by Grand Central Art Gallery, New York City. His work is in many collections, including the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; New York Historical Society; New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; Louisville Art Museum, Kentucky; and the Long Beach Art Museum, California. Since the 1970s, Manship has lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts and New York City, at Westbeth on the Hudson River.

John Manship's awards include the Childe Hassam Purchase Prize of the National Institute of Arts and Letters; Ranger Purchase Prize of the National Academy of Design; the Gold Medal of the Burckhart Academy in Rome; Watercolor Prize and First Prize for his Kouros statue at the National Arts Club; and numerous honors from the North Shore Arts Association and the Rockport Art Association.

Manship taught at Marymount-Manhattan College, and has given painting demonstrations and workshops at the Minnetonka Art Center and Castleton in Vermont, as well as master lessons to private students around the country.

The North Shore Arts Association, in 2000, presented a retrospective exhibition of the work of Gloucester's Manship family, Manship - Paul, John & Margaret: A Retrospective. The exhibition catalogue, with text by Rebecca Reynolds, contains fifty pages of black and white photographs of the sculpture of Paul Manship, the paintings and sculpture of his son John, and the sculpture of John's wife, Margaret Cassidy Manship.

Also a lecturer, Manship is considered the authority on his father's life and work. Museum professionals and collectors frequently request information and his assistance. Manship's illustrated book about his father, Paul Manship, is both comprehensive and comprehensible. His unaffected narrative style, which is absorbing and personal, should set a standard for art history books.
John Paul Manship has been a contributor to two catalogues on his father's work: In 1985, Paul Manship: Changing Taste in America, an exhibition of over 150 sculptures, drawings, and medals, drawn from the collections of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the National Museum of American Art, and selected pieces from public and private collections. And, in 1987, Drawings by Paul Manship, The Minnesota Museum of American Art Collection of 169 drawings bequeathed by Paul Manship in 1966.

Manship's other writings include articles for national journals and reference works such as the National Sculpture Review, Commonwealth, and a Catholic encyclopedia. He is often called upon to translate difficult texts in French and Italian.


The son of sculptor Paul Manship, John Manship was a sculptor and painter who also published a biography of his father in 1989. He studied at Harvard and converted to Roman Catholicism, which inspired many of his paintings. The bulk of his collection, paintings and drawings, was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

Biography from Cornish Colony Museum:
JOHN MANSHIP (1927-2000)

He first studied art at the High School of Music and Art in New York City and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College.

During the 10 years 1955-1965 he studied art in Europe, primarily at the Brera School in Milan, Italy.

Unlike his father, Paul Manship, John completed many fine religious works of art for churches in Rhode Island and in New York City.

He later studied watercolor painting techniques, and as a result of his watercolors he was elected an honorary member of the American Watercolor Society.

John Manship’s rapidity of painting is well known.  Swiftness in capturing the elusive light of a particular scene was essential to him.  His paintings are very much impressionist in nature as a result.  A soft misty light can filter through shadows, or an intense bright sunlight can reflect off of buildings in his paintings.

John Manship passed away after a short illness in Gloucester, Mass. in November, 2000.

In memory of his name and that of her father-in-law, several works have been donated by Margaret Cassidy Manship to this museum.

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