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 William Posey Silva  (1859 - 1948)

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Lived/Active: California/Tennessee      Known for: landscape, marine-mists and street painting

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Ad Code: 2
William Posey Silva
from Auction House Records.
Morning in the Garden of Dreams, 1921, a triptych
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A landscape painter, William Silva was an important art world figure in Tennessee and also in California, where he moved in 1913 and for thirty-five years devoted himself to painting cypresses, eucalypti, dunes, and coasts.

He was born in Savannah, Georgia, and studied at Catham Academy and engineering at the University of Virginia. He inherited the family chinaware business, which he ran successfully for thirty years until he began painting at age 50.

In 1887, he moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and there became known as "the finest artist at the turn of the century" (Gerdts "Art Across America" v. III). He painted in an impressionist style and did many panoramic views of Chatatanooga as well as paintings of the pine forests near Savannah. Initially he pursued his chinaware business there but in 1894, began to take art instruction.

Encouraged by his wife, he retired from his business in 1907 and enrolled at the Academy Julian in Paris as a student of Jean Paul Laurens. He also painted with American artist Chauncey Ryder. Recognition came quickly, and he had his first solo exhibition in 1909 in Paris at the Georges Petit Gallery.

That same year he returned to Chattanooga and a moment of great fame was the winning of the silver medal in 1910 at the Appalachian Exposition in Knoxville where he displayed seventy canvases. He then moved to Washington D.C. where he was active in the Society of Washington Artists until he moved to California in 1913.

He built a studio off Carmelita Street in the sand dunes but continued to exhibit with the Southern States Art League and also maintained close ties with his birthplace, Savannah, where in 1917 a solo exhibition was held at the Telfair Academy. He was a member of numerous organizations including the California Art Club and the Salmagundi Club.

He died on February 10, 1948.


Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

Biography from Carolina Galleries - Southern Art:
William Posey Silva
1859-1948

A landscape painter, he was an important art world figure in Tennessee and also in California where he moved in 1913 and for thirty-five years devoted himself to painting cypresses, eucalypti, dunes, and coasts.

He was born in Savannah, Georgia, and studied at Catham Academy and engineering at the University of Virginia. He inherited the family chinaware business, which he ran successfully for thirty years until he began painting at age 50.

In 1887, he moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and there became known as "the finest artist at the turn of the century" (Gerdts "Art Across America" v. III). He painted in an impressionist style and did many panoramic views of Chatatanooga as well as paintings of the pine forests near Savannah. Initially he pursued his chinaware business there but in 1894, began to take art instruction. Encouraged by his wife, he retired from his business in 1907 and enrolled at the Academy Julian in Paris as a student of Jean Paul Laurens. He also painted with American artist Chauncey Ryder.

Recognition came quickly, and he had his first solo exhibition in 1909 in Paris at the Georges Petit Gallery. That same year he returned to Chattanooga and a moment of great fame was the winning of the silver medal in 1910 at the Appalachian Exposition in Knoxville where he displayed seventy canvases. He then moved to Washington D.C. where he was active in the Society of Washington Artists until he moved to California in 1913.

He built a studio off Carmelita Street in the sand dunes but continued to exhibit with the Southern States Art League and also maintained close ties with his birthplace, Savannah, where in 1917 a solo exhibition was held at the Telfair Academy. He was a member of numerous organizations including the California Art Club and the Salmagundi Club. He died on February 10, 1948.

He held memberships at various clubs and organizations including:
American Artists Professional League, American Federation of Arts,
Salmagundi Club, Southern States Art League,New Orleans Art Association, Chattanooga Art Association, Carmel Art Association.
Silva exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in 1910,Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1912-13 and Southern States Art League, 1927 (prize), 1928 (prize), 1930 (prize), 1932-37.


Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
One of the leading Impressionist landscape painters of the early twentieth-century in America, William Posey Silva was born in Savannah, Georgia, where he attended Chatham Academy. He studied engineering at the University of Virginia, and was a partner in his family’s hardware and china business in Chattanooga, Tennessee from 1887 to 1907.

Then at the age of 48, he left the business and traveled to Paris to study at the Academie Julien and with the artist, Chauncey Ryder, in Picardy, France. During this time, he refined the lyrical Impressionist style that would characterize his work.

Silva exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1908, and visited Italy, Spain and England while abroad. Returning to New York in 1910, he studied with Arthur Dow in Massachusetts, and then moved to Washington D.C. from 1911 to 1914, before settling permanently in Carmel, California.

During his career, Silva made frequent trips to the Southeast, working in Charleston and Savannah, as well as places in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

While visiting Charleston in the 1920s, he joined other notable artists of the Renaissance era in painting luminous views of Magnolia Plantation, which he evocatively termed the “Garden of Dreams.” Silva painted in plein-air, rapidly sketching intimate canvases like these small scenes of Magnolia Gardens, which capture the lushness, colors, and atmosphere of the lowcountry landscape in different moments of time and light.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
William Posey Silva was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1859.  His father owned a successful china business, which Silva inherited as a young man.  Silva continued his family’s business until 1907, when he retired to travel to Paris for studies at the Academie Julian.  For 3 years after his return to the U.S., Silva had studios in the South, painting and exhibiting in Tennessee and Washington D.C.

In 1913 he moved to Carmel, California, where he resided for the next 35 years. An Impressionist, Silva is best remembered for his depictions of the early art colony of Carmel.

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
At the height of his career, William Posey Silva was recognized as one of the leading Impressionistic landscape painters of his day. However, painting was a second career for Silva, one that he did not begin until relatively late in life. Silva was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1859. As a young man, he initially studied engineering, but later took over the family’s china business following the death of his father. Silva successfully ran the business in Chattanooga, Tennessee from 1887 to 1907, during which time he painted recreationally. As an amateur artist, Silva recorded many panoramic views of the Tennessee mountains as well as painting coastal scenes of his native Savannah. Encouraged by his wife, Silva left the china business in 1907 when he was forty-eight and moved to Paris to pursue a career as a professional artist.

In Paris, Silva studied at the Académie Julian with Jean Paul Laurens and Henri Royer. He also sought out and studied under fellow American and landscape painter Chauncey Ryder, who was also living in France. Silva’s artistic career was soon a success with showings at the Salon d’ Automne in 1908 and a solo exhibition at the Georges Petit Gallery in 1909. The following year, the artist returned to Chattanooga and won the silver prize at the Appalachian Exposition held in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1910 he traveled to the Northeast and spent time in New York City as well as in Massachusetts where he studied with Arthur Dow. After a brief time in Washington, D.C., Silva and his wife moved to Carmel, California in 1914.

Silva built a studio in the sand dunes of the picturesque coastal town, which was gaining the reputation of an artists’ colony. While he made California his primary home for the next thirty-five years, Silva often revisited the Southeast maintaining close ties with the Southern States Art League and with his hometown. In 1917 he was given a solo exhibition at the Telfair Academy in Savannah, and in the 1920s he participated in the Charleston Renaissance, visiting the Carolina Lowcountry and producing many romantic views of the area. Silva often painted en plein air, recording his scenes with rapid, colorful brushstrokes, and his Impressionistic style was well suited to capturing the distinct feel of coastal marshlands. In addition to Savannah and Charleston, Silva also visited Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana in search of inspiration. He died in California in February of 1948.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina
www.thejohnsoncollection.org

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William Silva is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
Impressionists Pre 1940
California Painters



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