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 William Francis Taylor  (1883 - 1970)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/Ontario / Canada      Known for: rural landscape painting, writing

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Ad Code: 3
William Francis Taylor
from Auction House Records.
Snow Covered Winter Landscape
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Ontario, Canada, William Taylor became a landscape painter whose reputation is associated with the New Hope School of Pennsylvania Impressionists.  From 1905 to 1907, he studied in New York City at the Art Students League where John Sloan was one of his teachers.  In 1908, he began another dimension to his career, publication writing, when he took the job of advertising editor for the New York Journal.  He became a U.S. citizen, and in 1913 married Mary Smyth Perkins, an artist. 

In the early 1920s, Taylor and his wife began visiting Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and after 1925, moved to Lumberville as a result of friendship with William Lathrop, the first resident painter there of the group that became known as The Pennsylvania Impressionists. William Taylor became most associated with the 'late Pennsylvania Impressionist School, meaning the Bucks County artists who came to prominence after 1915.  They were associated with the conservative group headed by Pennsylvania Academy teacher Daniel Garber who were determinably not swayed by the avant-garde influences that swept the art world after the 1912 Armory Show in New York City.  Among this 'later' group, Taylor was one of the younger members.

Of the 'late' Pennsylvania impressionists, it was written: "Generally these painters were not as original or creative as the earlier painters, and in fact their work was highly derivative of the art that preceded them in Bucks County." (Folk, 31)

In October, 1928, William Taylor headed the Subscription Committee to purchase Phillips Mill in New Hope for the exhibition space for the New Hope Colony of Impressionist painters, one of the motives being that these younger painters including Taylor were having difficulty getting into the Pennsylvania Academy exhibitions.  The first exhibition in the newly purchased Mill was held May 25, 1929, and included paintings by Taylor.  A 1930 painting by Taylor titled Geese, depicted Phillips Mill with a flock of geese in the side and front yard.  In addition to becoming an exhibition venue, Phillips Mill became the community center for socializing and organizing of the Bucks County painters.  A membership support group was formed, the Phillips Mill Community Association, and in the late 20th century, this entity led to the formation of the James A. Michener Art Museum, a museum of fine arts with branches in New Hope and in Doylestown.

William Taylor also became the editor of Towpath, one of two local magazines, which sometimes carried articles on the New Hope painters.  One of Taylor's articles was on Edward Redfield.  Towpath was a monthly publication from 1939 to 1941, and featured writing on environmental control issues, a subject of major interest to Taylor who wrote widely-read editorials on the subject.  "Considering Taylor's interest in conservation, in addition to his own personal bias toward landscape as subject matter, it is not surprising that he published articles on Pennsylvania Impressionist painters.  It is unfortunate that World War II ended the publication of this magazine." (Folk, 33)

During the 1930s, the popularity of the Pennsylvania Impressionists declined.  Today, according to Thomas Folk, scholar of The Pennsylvania Impressionists, William Francis Taylor is better remembered for his organizing and writing abilities than for his painting.  In 1963, he published a history of Phillips Mill.

Sources include:
Thomas C. Folk, The Pennsylvania Impressionists
Erica Jaeger-Smith, Phillips' Mill: Celebrating Seventy-Five Years of Art

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