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 Samuel Thal  (1903 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: genre-figure, landscape, etching

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Ad Code: 3
Samuel Thal
from Auction House Records.
Castle Street Boston
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Although primarily known for his drypoint etchings, Sam Thal was also an accomplished painter, illustrator, architectural sculptor and art educator.  Born of Russian immigrant parents in New York City in 1903, Thal spent his childhood in Hadlyme, Connecticut, where his parents owned a large farm and poultry processing plant.  When his family returned to New York City, he began his art studies with three years of drawing classes at the National Academy of Design (beginning at age twelve), three years of sculpture classes at the Beaux Arts Academy and two years of study at the Art Students League.  

At age twenty, Thal and his family relocated to Boston where he remained for the balance of his life.  There, he studied for three years (1923-26) at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and spent the next ten years producing architectural sculpture in association with George K. Loeser at Harvard University.

By the mid-Thirties, the artist was able to devote all of his time to painting, sculpting and etching.  Later in the decade, he assisted in the establishment of art education programs under the aegis of the Federal Art Project.  Thal also taught life drawing classes at Garland Junior College in Boston, the Boston Architectural Club and the Boston Museum of Modern Art (now the Institute of Contemporary Art).

Thal married professor and Russian scholar Jeannette Eyre in 1939 and moved to Marlborough Street in Boston’s Back Bay.  Anna Thal, their only child, was born in 1947.  The artist died in Boston in 1964 at age sixty.

Thal’s drypoint etchings are well represented in numerous public and private collections including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum, Library of Congress, Carnegie Institute of Art, Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris), Penn State University, Boston Public Library and Harvard Medical School.  In 1942, he was awarded the coveted Talcott Prize by the Society of American Etchers; he was also the recipient of several purchase prizes from the Library of Congress.  Thal’s one-man exhibition credits include Doll & Richards Gallery (1942, 1945 and 1957), Grace Horne Gallery (Boston, 1944) and the U.S. National Museum (part of the Smithsonian) in 1947.

Archives of American Art (Smithsonian Institution), Samuel Thal Papers, 1942-1976, reel no. 2379; artist file at the Boston Public Library, Fine Arts Department.

Written and submitted by Arthur D. Hittner of Apple Ridge Fine Arts.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biographical information was provided by Rick Steinhauer of Madison, Wisconsin:

I have found an original signed etching by Samuel Thal titled "Sunday Afternoon" It was in an frame which was not in good shape, but the etching was excellent. The old dust cover had a printed biography from the gallery in New York. It reads as follows:

"Sam Thal was born in New York City in 1903. Indications of the artist's career were evident at the age of eight for in 1911 he completed a mural consisting of Christmas drawings on the blackboards of District No. 3 Schoolhouse at Hadlyme, Conn., where the Thal family had moved. At thirteen, the Thals returned to New York City, and young Sam attended DeWitt Clinton High School and the National Academy of Art at night. At twenty, Thal moved to Boston and has lived there ever since.

At present, his wife and he live with their cat, Oscar, in two floors of a red brick house on Marlborough Street in Back Bay near the Charles River.

Thal has exhibited widely and in 1938 and 1939, he was one of the artists responsible for constructing teaching programs for the Federal Art Project. Numerous prizes for etchings have been awarded him including a recent award from the Library of Congress. His work is to be found in many important collections. Associated American Artists, 711 Fifth Avenue, New York 22, N.Y."
Note from Wesley G. Morgan, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN :

Samuel Thal was employed by Dr. Henry A. Murray of the Harvard Psychological Clinic to draw or redraw ten pictures for the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The test was published by the Harvard University Press in 1943 and is still in widespread use today. For those familiar with the test, the pictures are Nos. 3 GF, 5, 7 BM, 8 BM,9 BM, 10, 12 M, 13 MF, 17 BM and 18 GF.

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