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 Joseph Thurman, Jr. Pearson  (1876 - 1951)



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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: landscape, animal and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 3
Joseph Thurman Jr Pearson
from Auction House Records.
Haystacks with Red Sun
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based on information provided to by Roy Wood Jr., who is writing the catalogue for an exhibition of Joseph Pearson's work at the Woodmere Art Museum in April 2001.

Most scholars and the art-collecting public have forgotten Joseph Thurman Pearson, Jr., but during his lifetime, he was a renowned artist, winning prizes at all of the leading art institutions of the day. He was also a teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was equally adept at landscapes, portraiture and in painting still life.

Pearson was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1876, the son of Joseph T. Pearson, Sr., a box manufacturer. He was one of eight children, and his father attempted to bring him into the business, but his attempt failed. With his son's interest in drawing, the elder Pearson had his son begin work in the office of Wilson Eyre, a Philadelphia architect and sculptor.

Eyre recognized young Joseph's talent and recommended that he study art. Attending the Pennsylvania Academy, Pearson studied with two icons of American Impressionism, William Merritt Chase and Julian Weir, the latter being a major influence on his life.

In 1901, Pearson traveled to study the hard-edge technique of the Munich School in Germany and spent his summer in Italy and Spain. In Madrid, he was exposed to the painting of Diego Velasquez, and like Chase before him, the dramatic effect of Valasquez's portraiture would have a lasting effect on his art. Several copies of Velasquez's work are noted in Pearson's estate inventory.

Pearson returned to study with Weir in 1907 - 1908, and in 1909, he was made an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy; where, except for a brief absence in 1922 - 1923, he taught for twenty-five years.

Like his contemporary associate, Daniel Garber, Pearson's strongest portraiture work is of his family. He executed early portraits of his wife and his mother, and accomplished later portraits of his daughters.

His early exhibition history features portraiture, but his first award-wining success reflected Pearson's interest in the outdoors, particularly pictures of waterfowl: ducks and geese. His paintings, like the outdoors, are large. Paintings from this period include "The Pheasant Hunters" depicting a hunter and his dogs, and "Ducks in a Marsh," for which he received an Honorable Mention at the International Exhibit at the Carnegie and an Honorable Mention at the Pennsylvania Academy, both in 1911.

In both works, he captures a moment in history. In the former, it's a hunter getting himself and his dogs ready for the hunt; in the latter, ducks swimming and feeding in a marsh.

His landscape painting won recognition at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1911, and at the National Academy of Design in 1915 and 1918. In 1916, his painting of Peking ducks next to a river titled "On the Valley," won the Temple award for the best painting in the exhibition and the Stotesbury Cash Award for the painting making the most contribution to the exhibit at the Academy Annual.

He followed this success with the painting that became recognized as his best work, a picture of The Twins, Virginia and Jane. This work was a critical success, winning the Beck medal for outstanding portraiture at the Academy Annual in 1917, and the Potter-Palmer Award of $ 1,000 at the Chicago Art Institute Annual of 1918.

Pearson was elected an Associate of the National Academy in 1917 and a full member in 1919.

He died in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania in 1951.

An exhibit of his work is scheduled at Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA in April, 2001.

Biography from The Woodmere Art Museum:

The first comprehensive look at the life's work of the
supremely talented artist Joseph T. Pearson, Jr., opens at Woodmere Art Museum on April 8, 2001 and continues through July 8, 2001 to memorialize the 50th anniversary of his death.
The exhibition features over 50 paintings and 30 drawings from private and institutional collections. Included are perhaps his most famous painting, The Twins: Virginia and Jane, now in the collection of The James A. Michener Art Museum, and two magnificent portraits of the artist's first wife, Emily, recently acquired by Woodmere with funds provided by the Estate
of Verna Stein, an anonymous donor.

Born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pearson (1876 - 1951) attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied with William Merritt Chase and J. Alden Weir. He went on to become an award-winning artist skilled in the art of still life, landscape painting, and portraiture and in 1919, was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design, New York.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Joseph Pearson is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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