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 John Aubrey Speer  (1895 - 1955)

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Lived/Active: Colorado      Known for: mountain landscape painting, commercial art

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John Aubrey Speer
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Rusty Morse:

John Aubrey Speer was born in Denver June 30, 1895 and died February 2, 1955  and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.  He first appeared in the City Directory in 1909 as a painter and subsequently was listed as a brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad.

He painted in the Denver area through the late 1940s, and in the early 1920s was a "Window Artist" for the McPhee & McGinnity Paint Company on Arapaho Street in Denver where he competed with A. L. Browning who worked for the rival McMurtry Manufacturing Company, also on Arapahoe Street.  Both had checklist stickers on the back of their work of scenes painted.

After Speer left McPhee, he moved to Englewood, a southern suburb of Denver where he lived at 4079 So. Acoma Street.  He then stamped this on the back of his paintings. He painted every size from postcards to larger landscapes. He also experimented with pallet knife paintings but always worked in oils.  He was married to Geraldine who survived him by a year.

During the period of his work with McPhee & McGinnity, the stickers on the back occurred in at least a half a dozen printings, so his work there had to number in the Thousands.  He also had outlets with stickers reflecting outlets at The LINCOLN PAINT AND COLOR CO., Lincoln, Nebraska, and ACME WHITE LEAD AND COLOR WORKS of Detroit, Michigan.  He probably set up these outlets while working for the railroad as he could ride on a pass.

I have his death certificate and several dozen of his paintings.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Bill Poe of Colorado Springs, Colorado:

From 1911 to 1923, John Speer was an early 20th-century landscape artist in Denver who had various jobs including a railroad brakeman, an employee of several paint companies, and of a company that sold Epson board.

According to an old rancher that owned one of his paintings and watched it in process, Speer painted with house paint on Epson board and completed his paintings in about ten minutes. Today his work is regarded not so much as art but as part of Colorado history. He was thought of as a street artist and sometimes bartered his paintings for food.

His work is in the Denver Museum.


Biography from Williams American Art Galleries:
John Aubrey Speer was born in Denver, Colorado in 1895.  He first appeared in the City Directory in 1909 as a painter, sold Epson board and subsequently was listed as a brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad.

In the early 1920’s Speer was a “Window Artist” for the McPhee & McGinnity Paint Company on Arapaho Street where he competed with A. L. Browning who worked for the rival McMurtry Manufacturing Company, also on Arapaho Street.  There is evidence that during that period he also did work for the Lincoln Paint and Color Co. of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Acme White Lead and Color Works of Detroit, Michigan.  He most likely set up these outlets while working for the railroad as he could ride on a pass.

After Speer left McPhee, he moved to Englewood, a southern suburb of Denver where he lived at 4079 So. Acoma Street.   He then began stamping that address on the back of his paintings.   He painted various sized canvases, ranging from postcard size to large landscapes.  The artist experimented with using a palette knife to create his works, but always worked in oils.

He continued to paint in the Denver area through the late 1940’s. J. A. Speer died in 1955 in Denver and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery; his wife, Geraldine, survived him.  Today his work is regarded as part of Colorado history.


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