Born in Kinsale, Ireland, Spread (1844-1890) studied in Europe, came to the United States around 1870, and was in Chicago by about 1874. In 1879, Spread took part in the Inter-State Industrial Exposition and was teaching at the newly chartered School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Alice DeWolf Kellogg was one of his students. Spread is best known as the founder of Spread’s Art Academy, which became the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1902. Toward the end of his life, Spread was named the first president of the Chicago Society of Artists (1889). The organization was formed two years earlier in Spread’s studio in the Lakeside Building, where artists, including Charles Boutwood and John F. Stacey met on Saturday evenings. Spread exhibited only once, in 1889 (An Offering for Eros) at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also exhibited at the second annual exhibition of the Western Art Association in the galleries of the Illinois Club in1886) (Path in the Tyrol). Fielding mentioned two of his works: Chicago Arising from her Ashes and Sad News. His portrait of Rufus Choate (Union League of Chicago) has a realist directness and is a superb characterization. Clarkson (1921, p. 134) explained how Spread’s “fine influence and advice formed the careers of the men who were not only to achieve prominence as artists, but to occupy leading places as art teachers.”
Clarkson, Ralph. “Chicago Painters: Past and Present.” Art and Archaeology 12 (September - October 1921): 129-144; Mantle Fielding, Dictionary of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. Philadelphia:1926, p. 346; Sparks, Esther. “Biographical Dictionary of Illinois Painters and Sculptors, 1808-1945.” Diss., Northwestern University, 1971, pp. 617-618; Yochim, Louise Dunn. Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists. Chicago: CSA, 1979, pp. 32, 289; Chicago Inter Ocean, Sunday March 7, 1886, p.13.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.