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 Walter Elmer Schofield  (1867 - 1944)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/California / United Kingdom      Known for: winter landscape and marine painting

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Elmer Schofield is primarily known as Walter Elmer Schofield

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Walter Elmer Schofield
from Auction House Records.
Rapids in Winter
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted November 2005, is from David Tovey, and is an abridged version of a book he wrote on the St. Ives Society of Artists, Creating A Splash, now in its second edition.  Tovey curated for Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance Cornwall a 2003-2004 six-venue touring exhibition devoted to the St. Ives Colony of Artists in England.

Walter Elmer Schofield RBA  ROI  NA (1867-1944)  

Schofield was born on 10th September 1867 in Philadelphia.  His parents had emigrated from England, and his father became part owner of Delph Spinning Company in Philadelphia.  Not enjoying the best of health as a child, he was sent out West by his father to toughen him up, and, for eighteen months in 1884/5, he lived the life of a cowboy.  His earliest works date from this period. 

Between 1889 and 1892, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before, in late 1892, going to Paris, where he enrolled at Julian’s Academy, studying under Bouguereau, Ferrier, Aman-Jean and Doucet.  During his three years in Paris, he travelled to Fontainebleau and Brittany and was fired with enthusiasm for Impressionism. 

In 1894, he returned to the States and tried to work in the family business but it did not suit him.  He returned to Europe in 1895 with his charismatic and influential friend, Robert Henri, and fellow art student, William Glackens, and, from Paris, they cycled round Holland and Belgium to view the Dutch masters.  The following year, he visited England.  In October 1897, he married Muriel Redmayne of Southport, whom he had met initially in Philadelphia.  She did not take to life in America and so, in 1901, they emigrated to England, living initially in Southport.  In 1903, now with two young sons, they  moved to St Ives, Cornwall, where they stayed for four years, during which time he was instrumental not only in recommending St Ives to other American artists, such as George Oberteuffer and Frank Shill, but also in getting work by his St Ives colleagues, such as Hayley Lever, hung at Pittsburg and other American shows. 

Schofield was primarily a landscape painter, and this was the period when the landscape and marine work of the St Ives artists Arnesby Brown, Julius Olsson, Algernon Talmage, Noble Barlow and Arthur Meade was winning high plaudits at the Royal Academy.  There is little doubt that Schofield was influenced by the plein-air approach of these artists, and he adopted a broader view and lighter palette.  Commenting to his friend, C.Lewis Hind, on his new found enthusiam, he stated, “Zero weather, rain, falling snow, wind - all of these things to contend with only make the open-air painter love the fight...He is an open-air man, wholesome, healthy, hearty, and his art, sane and straightforward, reflects his temperament.”  In addition, Schofield started to use huge canvases for his outdoor works, and the result was panoramic landscapes, boldly and expansively painted.  

Schofield was a restless spirit.  No sooner had he settled into any new home that Muriel had located for the family than he would announce “Well, it’s time to be moving on.” And he developed a lifestyle that involved him spending as much as six months a year - normally from October to April - in the States away from his family. 

Schofield always favoured the American exhibition circuit and American patrons and, as a result, during the first three decades of the twentieth century, he became regarded as one of America’s leading landscape painters and is now lauded as one of the most important of the American Impressionists. 

His medal tally at American and International exhibitions is impressive and include a ‘Mention Honorable’ at the Paris Salon in 1900, a First Class Medal at the Carnegie Institute in 1904, a Gold Medal at the 1910 Buenos Aires Exhibition, the Medal of Honour from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and a silver medal at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 1926.  In fact, the Corcoran held three one-man exhibitions of his work in 1912, 1920 and 1931 and he was well-respected in art circles, serving on exhibition juries and selection committees.

Schofield made more than forty crossings of the Atlantic by steamer, and, between 1902 and 1937, the only years when he did not visit the States were the War years.  In 1915, aged 48, Schofield felt so deeply about Germany’s actions that he enlisted as a private soldier in the Royal Fusiliers but, with Olsson’s assistance, he received a commission from the Royal Artillery the following year.  He fought at the Somme and rose to the rank of Major but his only painting exploits were in camouflaging the guns under his command.  In 1921, he returned to Cornwall, living at Doreen Cottage at Perranporth for four years, although, as always, he was constantly away from home, seeking new subjects, new inspiration and, most importantly, new purchasers.  In 1925, the family moved to Otley, Suffolk, where his son, Sidney had started farming.  

In the late 1920s and 1930s, with his marriage under strain, Schofield spent as much as nine months a year in the States and, in addition to returning as always to his home state of Pennsylvania, he spent long periods in California, Arizona and New Mexico, where he painted scenes of the American West.  However, when his son, Sidney, in 1937, purchased Godolphin House, the impressive manor dating from the 15th century, near Helston, he could not resist the lure of Cornwall again, and he and his wife moved in during the autumn of 1938.  He immediately joined the St Ives Society of Artists -  Moffat Lindner, Fred Milner and Arthur Meade would have been colleagues from his first visit to St Ives -  and his exhibits soon were highly applauded.  In 1941, after his son’s marriage, he moved to Gwedna House, a smaller residence on the estate, where he died from a heart attack in 1944.

(Abridged version of Schofield’s entry in David Tovey, Creating A Splash - The St Ives Society of Artists (1927-1952), ISBN  0953836347 - Available from 11-13 Mill Bank, Tewkesbury, Glos GL20 5SD England)

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Walter Elmer Schofield painted atmospheric, impressionist landscapes filled with sun and bright colors, but became best known for his snowscapes and rushing streams, with the movement of the water often shown in diagonal lines, using broad fluid strokes.  Using the same method as his friend Edward Redfield, Schofield completed large canvases in one sitting, and he loved the challenge of keeping his canvases anchored in bad weather.

He was born in 1867 in Philadelphia.  His mother was the grand niece of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein.  He attended Swarthmore College and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, studying with Thomas Anshutz from 1889 to 1892.  Thinking he needed to supplement his art training, he went to Paris to study for three years, 1892 to 1895, and attended the Academie Julian. However, he soon tired of the strict regimen and chose to paint directly from nature in the Forest of Fontainbleau.

Later he went to England, where he eventually settled in the St. Ives art colony in Cornwall in 1903, along with his English wife, Murielle Redmayne, and children. While living in various cities in England -- Yorkshire, Southport, Bedfors, and while attending the Academy, Schofield met American expatriate artists including Robert Henri, Edward Redfield, John Sloan, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn, members of "The Eight".

Rebelling against the rigidity of the National Academy, "The Eight" were a group of painters whose historic exhibition was held at the Macbeth Galleries in New York in February 1908.  Not all of "The Eight" painted in a similar mode, but they were generally interested in urban realism as well as Impressionism.

Although he became an expatriate, Schofield was recognized as part of the Pennsylvania Impressionist tradition.  After about 1903, his Impressionist style often incorporated cobalt blues, and prevailed throughout the rest of his career.  He continued to exhibit in the United States and to belong to American art organizations. In the 1930s, he traveled in the American West, painting in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

From an early age, Schofield was familiar with Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, especially when visiting friends such as Edward Redfield.  As a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he painted several geographic areas. In 1904, his Center Bridge, Across the River, earned him a Carnegie Institute medal.  His friendship with Redfield ended in rivalry, however, as Redfield claimed the composition was initially his own concept, that Schofield stole it, and warned him to vacate the area.  Schofield agreed, but Redfield's influence to his painting style would continue.

Perhaps influenced by his affinity for the rugged outdoors and winter's bitter elements, Schofield favored snow scenes, as seen in Bucks County and other venues of the Delaware River Valley. Marine vistas, often painted in Cornwall, England, were done in bold colors with thick, heavy brushstrokes.

Schofield's works are included in many collections, domestic and abroad, as well as corporate and private collections.

He died March 1, 1944.

Sources include:
Bryan Peterson, "Impressionism Comes to Bucks County" American Art Review, 10/2002
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio:
Walter Elmer Schofield was born in 1867 to a wealthy Philadelphia family.  He attended Philadelphia Central High School, a school known for its progressive curriculum, and graduated in 1886.  He was enrolled briefly at Swarthmore College before going west to San Antonio, Texas.  In San Antonio, Schofield did a series of drawings in which he depicted the feel and lifestyle of the American West.

Upon his return to the east coast, Schofield enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia (1889-1892).  As a student at the Academy, Schofield was undoubtedly influenced by the acclaimed painter and instructor, Thomas Anshutz, who emphasized the importance of realism and observation in an artist’s work.  Schofield met fellow painters John Sloan, Robert Henri and Edward Redfield during his time at PAFA, all of whom were also studying at the school.

In 1892, Schofield left the United States for Paris where he attended the Académie Julian to further his artistic studies.  In 1895, Schofield made a brief return to the United States; however the majority of that year was spent touring an array of European cities where he painted extensively. 

Schofield again returned to his beloved Pennsylvania in 1897.  That year he spent time with his old friend Edward Redfield in Bucks County.  Schofield was impressed with Redfield’s snow scene paintings and began to portray the subject himself; from this point on one can see the influence Redfield had on Schofield’s style.

Both Schofield and Redfield loved to paint outdoors and often braved the harshest of elements to capture their subjects.  In October 1897, Schofield married Muriel Redmayne, a British woman on a temporary visit to United States.  A few years after their marriage the couple moved to the artist’s colony in St. Ives. 

For the rest of his life, Schofield spent his time between the United States and Europe, often visiting his friend Redfield on his trips home to Pennsylvania.  Sadly, in 1904, Schofield and Redfield’s friendship ended with an artistic disagreement. Schofield won an award from the Carnegie Institute for the painting, Center Bridge—Across the River, a painting which Redfield claimed was based on his own composition and Schofield had stolen.  It is said that Schofield never returned to Bucks County after that dispute.  Until his death in 1944, Schofield continued to paint sweeping landscapes of the European and American countryside.

Schofield won many awards throughout his life.  They include: honorable mention, Philadelphia Art Club (1898); honorable mention, Paris Exposition (1900); the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1903); medal of honor, Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1915); and a silver medal, Sesquicentennial International Exposition (1926).  He also won three awards from the National Academy of Design and an award from the National Arts Club among others.

Schofield’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Luxembourg Museum in Paris, James A. Michener Art Museum and the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute among many others.

Written by Lauren Bradley, on behalf of Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio. Information obtained from Pennsylvania Impressionism, Brian Peterson, editor, copyright 2002

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Walter Elmer Schofield was born in Philadelphia in 1867 where he attended Swarthmore College and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, before leaving for Paris to study at the Academie Julian.

From Paris Schofield headed to England, where he settled in the St. Ives Art Colony at Cornwall.

Schofield is remembered for his Impressionist winter scenes, painted in England and Pennsylvania.  His works were richly developed, and often infused with brilliant cobalt blues.

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Elmer Schofield is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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