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 Aiden Lassell Ripley  (1896 - 1969)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/New York      Known for: wildlife, genre, landscape-figure painting, etching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Aiden Lassell Ripley was one of Boston's most distinguished artists, and, as President of the Guild of Boston Artists for ten years, 1959 to 1969, was also one of Boston's most beloved.  Using oils, watercolors, and graphics, he devoted himself to wildlife subjects.

He was born in Boston on December 31, 1896, and grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts, where his father was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Young Aiden was also an accomplished musician, but chose art over music for his life-time career.

The first exhibition of Ripley's sporting oils and watercolors was held at the Guild of Boston Artists to the delight of his friends. An exhibition of sporting prints, which particularly revealed Ripley's strength as a draftsman, was held later that year. From that point on, his entire body of printmaking was concerned with sporting and wildlife subjects.

As the demand and, thus, the prices for his work increased, Ripley added to the number of galleries that represented him, beginning with The Sporting Gallery and, then, Kennedy Gallery in New York, to eventually other galleries around the country.

Perhaps the key to Ripley's success lies in the fact that he painted what meant the most to him in life, and he appeared happy just to be able to make a living doing it. He was a tall man, with large hands, yet he had a dedicate touch.

He was a member of the Guild of Boston Artists, Boston Watercolor Society, Copley Society, National Academy of Design, the American Watercolor Society, Allied Artists of America, and the National Society of Mural Painters.

Source:
Web-site of Comenos Fine Art


Biography from Red Fox Fine Art:
Excerpt from Animal and Sporting Artists in America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr. © 2008:

Ripley was born in Wakefield, MA, on 31 December 1896. A childhood interest in music gave way to painting while he was in high school. He studied in Boston, MA, at the Fenway School of Illustration until the start of American involvement in the First World War, at which point he joined the army; he served both as an infantryman and in a military band. After his discharge in 1919 he studied with Frank Benson and Philip Hale at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He began his career as a landscape painter, traveling with his wife in France, the Netherlands, and North Africa on fellowship money from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1924.

After his return to the United States Ripley traveled along the eastern coast and attempted to establish himself as a landscape painter. During the Depression landscapes and portraiture were not in great demand. An enthusiastic sportsman and avid gunner after ruffed grouse, he decided to paint compositions of the subjects he knew well, including upland game and waterfowl shooting and angling for game fish with the fly rod. He also continued to paint portraits on commission as well as some historical works, such as a set of fourteen paintings depicting the life of Paul Revere.

He taught at the Harvard School of Architecture in Cambridge, MA, in 1929. He illustrated a number of books for the Derrydale Press, Eugene V. Connett's sporting imprint, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1942 his American Widgeon, a drypoint of two ducks on the water and a third landing, was chosen for the Federal Duck Stamp for the 1942 - 1943 season. He is best known for his work in watercolor, although he also produced a number of oils. His studies were generally in pencil and many of his finished graphite drawings were reproduced as advertisements and illustrations in periodicals and catalogues. As well as paintings, he produced a number of etchings and drypoints of sporting subjects. He stopped making new etchings in 1956, but he continued selling prints from his old plates well into the 1960s. His work was also reproduced as lithographs; the Sporting Gallery and Bookshop in New York City published his watercolor Turkey Drive in that form in 1966. The actor Robert Montgomery commissioned works from him, showing Montgomery with gun and dogs in the field; one shows Montgomery and fellow actor James Cagney returning from a pheasant shoot.

Ripley served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists, where he had begun exhibiting in 1930, for ten years, beginning in 1959. He was also a member of the National Academy of Design; the American Watercolor Society; the Audubon Artists, Inc.; and the American Artists' Professional League, all in New York City.

He received a medal at the Boston Tercentenary Exhibition in 1930. He also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia; the National Academy of Design, where he showed a few portraits and genre pictures in the 1940s; the Art Institute of Chicago (IL); the American Watercolor Society; the New York Watercolor Club; with Artists for Victory at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Boston Watercolor Society; the Boston Art Club; the Worcester (MA) Museum of Art; and other places.

His Pheasants in the Cornfield is in the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY. The Denver (CO) Art Museum has his Timber Wolves at Bay. The Pebble Hill Plantation Museum in Thomasville, GA has ten paintings by Ripley: eight of turkeys, one of grouse, and one of mallards. Other institutions holding his work include the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Columbia (SC) Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; the Columbus (GA) Museum; the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA; the Albany (GA) Museum of Art; the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY; the Art Institute of Chicago, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA.

Ripley died in Lincoln, MA, on 29 August 1969.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Ripley was born at Wakefield, Massachusetts, on December 31, 1896, and began painting at age seven or eight. Son of a horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ripley was an accomplished pianist and tuba player, and for a time his career choice hovered between music and art. Finally, he enrolled at the Fenway School of Illustration in Boston.

Ripley enlisted in the Allied Expeditionary Force in 1917 and was sent to France. His talent as a tuba player landed him in General Pershing's band, which was safe enough during the conflict, but he was kept in Europe long after most of the soldiers had gone home.

Ripley returned to Boston in April, 1919, and afterward established a home and studio in Lexington, Massachusetts. He won a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he studied under Philip Hale, Edmund Tarbell, and Frank W. Benson, the water and wildlife artist.

He was awarded a two-year Paige Traveling Fellowship, which allowed him and his wife Doris Verne to visit France, Holland and North Africa in the early 1920s. On subsequent trips he visited Normandy, Brittany, and Scandinavia. On his return he exhibited his European watercolors, which attracted favorable notice.

In 1928 he was awarded a Logan Purchase Prize and Medal by the Art Institute of Chicago, which was the first of more than fifty prizes he would receive.

During the Depression, Ripley supplemented his income by teaching drawing at the Harvard School of Architecture. Because demand for his customary landscapes was waning.

In 1936 he began a relationship with the Sportsman's Gallery of Art and Books in New York City. It was as a painter of hunting and angling scenes that Ripley was to achieve his greatest success. By the 1950s he was considered the nation's preeminent watercolorist in that field. Sportsman's Gallery arranged for him to take hunting (and painting) trips to upper New England in the summer or autumn, and to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in the winter.

Ripley was also a muralist. A 1939 mural for the Lexington Post Office led, in the 1950s, to a commission to paint the life of Paul Revere in twelve large oils, which he completed in 1965. He did about thirty etchings and drypoints, and in the last years of his life was active as a portraitist.

Ripley was a member of the National Academy of Design, the American Society of Watercolor Painters, the National Society of Mural Painters, and the Guild of Boston Artists, of which he was president from 1957 to 1968. He died in September, 1969. His work is represented at the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which had a show of his work in 1942. A retrospective exhibition was sponsored by the Guild of Boston Artists in 1970.

Ripley liked to execute his watercolors from rapid pencil sketches done in a notebook, the more complete the better. Often he did six or seven drawings or studies for each watercolor. In many cases he then did a tonal charcoal study overlaid with opaque watercolors. He painted the sky first, then whatever came against the sky. This relationship dictated the remaining composition. He relied on memory of the locale to supply the choice of colors. His palette was not extensive: two blues, two reds, three yellows, an orange, green, two browns, indigo, black, and white.

THE SOUTH ON PAPER: LINE, COLOR AND LIGHT, Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc., Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1986, page 55.

Biography from Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts, LLC:
Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts and was the son of a Boston Symphony musician.  He excelled at the piano and the tuba at an early age, but discovered his ultimate passion lay in nature and hunting; particularly the shooting of grouse, wood cock, and blackducks.  This fascination inspired Ripley to record what he saw, and his early investigations and discipline paid off in the meticulously researched details he afforded his subjects.

By his mid-teens, Ripley was committed to a career in art, commuting into Boston to take classes.  He was drafted and after returning from World War I, attended the Boston Museum School where he studied with the country’s top artists, including Philip Hale and Frank W. Benson.  While attending the Museum School, Ripley was awarded a Paige Travelling fellowship to study in Europe.  While abroad, Ripley painted watercolors en plein air in North Africa, France, and Holland.

On his return, in 1925, he was elected to the Guild of Boston Artists.  His work focused again on the New England countryside, as well as depictions of city life and railroad commuting scenes.  However, the Depression limited the sales potential for these works, and following a successful one-man show in 1930 of his sporting art, he decided to change his tack and specialize on hunting, fishing, and outdoor scenes as subjects.

Along with his contemporary, Ogden Pleissner, A.L. Ripley exemplifies the life of a successful sporting artist.  Ripley’s wealthy and prestigious clients of his sporting art endorsed his numerous trips to the salmon rivers of New Brunswick and the quail plantations of Georgia, where Ripley indulged his passion for hunting and fishing while recording material he would use in his art.

He produced numerous commissions for corporations, Field and Stream magazine, and individuals.  While the loose impressionism of the Boston Museum School marks his early work, his later work is progressively tighter, following a trend in American Realism.

Ripley was an expert watercolorist as well as a brilliant draftsman, with an outstanding ability to render natural light.  His recognition was plentiful.  Among his many awards, Ripley was honored with election into the National Academy of Design and served as president of the Boston Artists Guild for ten years preceding his death.

Biography from The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction:
Aiden Lassell Ripley--(1896-1969) was an oil and watercolor painter who began his career painting landscapes; he included sportsmen in his paintings during the Great Depression. He went on to earn a reputation as one of America's foremost painters of upland shooting scenes and game birds.

Ripley spent most of his life in the Boston area. He began studying music, his father's apecialization, but after high school he turned to painting. He trained at the Fenway School of Illustration and the Boston Museum School. After serving in World War I, Ripley retuened to the Museum School.

In 1924, he won a Paige Traveling Fellowship that enabled him to paint for two years in Africa, France and Holland. His paintings depicted the landscapes of these locations and of his native New England. When Ripley encountered difficulty selling his pictures of New England scenery during the Depression, a hunting companion suggested that he add sporting activities to these outdoor scenes. He eventually embraced the genre of the sporting scene as his subject. He also produced portraits, and a series of Revolutionary War pictures based on the life of Paul Revere.

An excellent hunter and angler, Ripley was also an active conservationist. He served on the town board of Lexington, Massachusetts, and in that capacity, pressed for local preservation of wildlife. In addition to the representation of upland game birds, sportsmen, anglers and bird dogs, his works offer an accurate record of mid-twentieth century American scenery.

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Alden Lassell Ripley (American, 1896-1969)

A. Lassell Ripley was born on December 31, 1896 in Wakefield, MA and studied at the Fenway School (1917) and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School under Tarbell and Benson.

He was a member of the American Artists Professional League, Audubon Artists, Boston Art Club, Guild of Boston Artists, American Watercolor Society, New York Water Color Society and elsewhere.

He exhibited and won numerous prizes for his watercolors throughout the United States and he bequest his paintings to the Guild of Boston Artists. He is represented in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago and elsewhere.

He was a teacher at the Harvard School of Architecture (1929) and his professional life as a painter concentrated on painting wild birds and fishing scenes from nature. He died in Lexington, MA on August 29, 1969.

Biography from Blake Benton Fine Art, Artists P - R:
Aiden Lassell Ripley, painter, watercolor specialist, printmaker, teacher, he was born in Boston on December 31, 1896, and grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts where his father was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Aiden Ripley, like his father, was also an accomplished musician, and although he chose art as his career he always kept his appreciation for music for the remainder of his life, most of which was spent in the Boston area.

He began his studies with Philip Leslie Hale at the Fenway School of Illustration and later at the Boston Museum of fine Arts School under Tarbell and Benson.  After serving in World War I, Ripley returned to the Museum School where in 1917 he won the Paige Traveling Fellowship that enabled him to study abroad for nearly two years in Africa, France and Holland, from December of 1923 until 1925.  His newlywed wife Doris accompanied him on his trip to Europe.  The two traveled through Europe, and Ripley produced a large number of the watercolors on that trip well as a smaller number of oil paintings.

Upon his return to Boston, he received his first one-man show at the Guild of Boston Artists in 1926 where he exhibited paintings that depicted the landscapes done in Europe and Spain and of his native New England.  Much to his delight the show was a huge success and one critic, A. J. Philpot of the Boston Globe stated: "The flash from obscurity to fame has come the past week to Aiden L. Ripley, a young Boston painter, has given an unusual thrill to the artists and connoisseurs of this city. In a week he was transformed from an art student to a painter of rank with the foremost of the day in watercolors and his works were being purchased not only by connoisseurs, but by some of the foremost artists in Boston--the people who know."  That exhibition revealed Ripley's strength as a draftsman.  He remained closely associated with the Guild for the rest of his career.

Inspired by another successful showing of works held later that year Ripley decided to embark on a summer trip to Scandinavia in 1927.  Because of the rave reviews from his exhibitions held the previous year, Ripley continued to find an eager audience for his work.  A reviewer for the Boston Post in the St. Botolph exhibition of February 1927 stated: "Several canvases by Aiden L. Ripley are especially notable.  Notre Dame is extremely effective.  The beautiful cathedral is viewed from the distance, across a bridge.  In the foreground the river is crowded with boats and the walks along the bank with strolling people.  Brilliant sunlight and cool shadows are beautifully painted in the canvas called Cataracts--Toledo, the churning water, blue and green and again white, swirls about the reservoir, while in the foreground are ruins of ancient buildings."

For a time during the great depression, Ripley, (like many of his contemporaries) experienced difficulty in selling his landscape paintings depicting the New England countryside.  It was during this time that Ripley, (an avid sporting enthusiast) at the behest of his hunting companion incorporated sporting scenes in his work.  For Ripley there was no turning back, this formula brought him unparalleled success as an artist in this genre and today he is known as one of the preeminent sportsman and wildlife artists in the country.  He was also known for genre, landscapes, portraits, gardens, farms, hunting, fishermen, birds, boats, and a series of Revolutionary War pictures based on the life of Paul Revere.

Ripley was known as a perfectionist when it came to perspective and draftsmanship. His paintings depict a very accurate portrayal of the life of a sportsman during the early to mid part of the twentieth century.  Although he worked in oils as well as other materials his mastery over the watercolor medium was especially noteworthy. Many of his paintings reveal a relaxed atmosphere that remind one of a time when life was less complicated so to speak.  This was a carry over from his real life as Ripley believed in simple living and took enjoyment in outdoor recreation and relaxation of all sorts.  He was described as a "tall man, with large hands, yet he had a dedicate touch."

He was a member of the Boston Guild of Artists; Boston watercolor Society; Copley Society; American Artists Professional League, Audubon Artists, Boston Art Club; American Watercolor Society; New York Water Color Society; Allied Artists of America; National Society of Mural Painters and others. Ripley was also active in the field of wildlife preservation additionally; he represented various sportsman-related groups in this capacity.

He won recognition and prizes for his work including: Logan Purchase prize and medal, Art Institute of Chicago, IL., 1928; co-winner, first Dacre Bush prize, Boston Watercolor Society, 1929 and others.  Ripley was represented by many important galleries including, Kennedy Galleries in New York and others.  He taught at the Harvard School of Architecture in 1929.

Lassell Aiden Ripley died in Lexington, MA on August 29th, 1969.


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