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 Archibald McNeal Willard  (1836 - 1918)

About: Archibald McNeal Willard


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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: figure, genre, history, illustrator

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Ad Code: 1
Archibald McNeal Willard
from Auction House Records.
The Spirit of '76
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Bedford, Ohio, Archibald Willard was primarily an illustrator and muralist but remains best known for his painting, Spirit of '76, which he did at the suggestion of photographer J.F. Ryder for the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.  The models for this work were his father and two friends, and he produced at least four versions of the painting.  From his grandfather a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and his father, a fundamentalist preacher, he learned a deep sense of patriotism.  During his childhood, he moved often as his father was assigned a series of parishes in northern Ohio.

Early on, Willard was a carriage painter by trade, beginning in Ohio under the tutelage of E.S. Tripp.  He served in the Civil War, and was constantly sketching battle scenes and soldiers, and his good friend, Hugh Mosher, who played the fife and was one of the models used by Willard in his Spirit of '76.

Archibald is seen as the main motivator behind the Cleveland Art Club or "Old Bohemians." He was also an "active advocate for art education and believed in the availability of training for those exhibiting talent."  In 1873, he went to New York to study art.  Much of his work is ironic and humorous, poking fun at people who take themselves too seriously.

Sackerlotzky, R. "Cleveland's 'Old Bohemians' and Cleveland Artists Foundation Symposium" American Art Review, October, 1993.

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Civil War Art

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