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 John Gilmore Wolcott  (1891 - 1965)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: landscape, marine and portrait painting, cartoon, mural, illustration

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John Gilmore Wolcott
An example of work by John Gilmore Wolcott
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an exhibition review, submitted by Peter Kostoulakos.

John G. Wolcott Revisited
An Historic Exhibit
March 10 to April 28, 2012
Reception: Sunday, April 1, 2 to 4 pm
 
 
HISTORIC EXHIBIT OF ARTIST JOHN G. WOLCOTT AT WHISTLER HOUSE MUSEUM OF ART
 
LOWELL, MA -- Portrait painter, cartoonist, educator, muralist, illustrator…such was the life of John Gilmore Wolcott (1891-1965). Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Arthur Wolcott.
 
“John G. Wolcott Revisited,” is an historic exhibit of an extraordinary artist whose interests spanned what many would consider multiple careers, and who was equally successful in each avenue he chose to explore.
 
He distinguished himself as an ambitious soul at the age of 13 when he won a handsome touring car in a contest offered by the Boston Traveler by successfully estimating the correct number of advertisements printed in the Traveler from October 26th to December 19th, 1903. Wolcott was prominently featured in a photograph on the front page of the December 23, 1903 edition of the Boston Traveler sitting in his new automobile.
 
He served three enrollments with the military beginning with the National Guard Calvary on the Mexican border. It was there that he joined the regular army for service in World War I and as a volunteer militiaman during the days of the Boston Police Strike.
 
Wolcott received two degrees from Harvard University: a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Education. He graduated from Harvard University in 1914. While there he studied drawing and painting with Charles Woodbury (1864-1940), and continued his studies with Woodbury after graduation. Wolcott also studied with Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935) and William Worcester Churchill (1858-1926). He was on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon as a cartoonist and writer.  His work at Harvard included copying the past masters at the Museum of Fine Arts to learn portraiture. His copy of Major Henry Lee Higginson by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is owned by the New England Conservatory.
 
While living in Lowell, Wolcott once noted that an artist “has not need to travel afar for his subjects, since this city contains subjects for landscape work that outshine the material found in several notable places to which artists go for inspiration.” (from The Lowell Sun, Nov. 3, 1934)
 
In addition to landscapes, Wolcott is also known for his strongly executed portraits of several of Lowell’s most prominent residents, including Mrs. Butler Ames, Mrs. Harry Coburn, and Mrs. Charles Coburn. He also painted the portrait of the well respected Superintendant of Schools, Dr. Hugh Malloy.
 
Wolcott contributed more than a dozen essays on education to such publications as the Journal of Education and the Educational Review. Wolcott believed that there was an important relation between education and art. It gave him a broader outlook on life and made him a better educator and teacher.  From 1921 until 1951, Wolcott was the principal of the Greenhalge School in Lowell, MA.
 
Wolcott was a member of the National Society of Mural Painters, New York City; Massachusetts State Chairman of the American Artists Professional League (1914 to 1946); and a member of the Saint Botolph’s Club in Boston.
 
He was President of the Whistler House Museum of Art, then known as the Lowell Art Association (LAA) from 1944 to 1951.
 
While serving as president, he led the board of trustees in decision making and planning for the organization. He began his term during the end of WW II, which was a difficult time to raise funds to maintain the historic house. Wolcott was also involved in the planning stages of building the Parker Gallery which is named after Theodore Edson Parker who bequeathed a large art collection and a sum of money to construct a new fireproof building in which to store it. Archives of the LAA also contain a letter Wolcott wrote to Winston Churchill in 1945 in hopes to exhibit his paintings.
 
The Whistler House Museum of Art / Lowell Art Association contains in its permanent collection two of Wolcott’s oil paintings: Grant Hood House, North Tewksbury and Lowell In Gold Mist, the Vision, 1920.
 
Wolcott exhibited his work at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and was in many regional shows, including the Vose Galleries, Boston, MA; the Rockport and Gloucester Art Associations in MA; and the Addison Gallery at Philips Academy, Andover, MA.
 
In addition to murals in the Park Square Building of Boston (which have since been destroyed), Wolcott’s impressive work adorns the former Gardner High School in Gardner, MA known today as the Elm Street School. This mural has been in place for over 70 years.
 
In his later years, he painted people riding their beloved horses, many of which were members of the Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, MA, which he frequented.
 
Peter Kostoulakos, Fine Art Conservator, was hired to clean and restore several paintings in this exhibit.
 
“Dad became the Head Master of the Greenhalge Elementary School in Lowell, forever keeping up with his paintings on weekends and vacations.  The easel was always up and ready in our living room,” said Patricia Wolcott Berger, daughter of John G. Wolcott.
 
Catalogues will be available for purchase during the exhibit at the WHMA.
 
John G. Wolcott Revisited is funded by the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation.

Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art:
John Gilmore Wolcott, 1891-1965

John Gilmore Wolcott — painter, portrait painter, cartoonist, lecturer, teacher, writer, and muralist — was born in Cambridge, MA on January 31, 1891 and died in 1965. Although he worked in both Lowell and Gloucester, the greater part of his adult life was spent as a "master" teacher and principal at the Greenhalge School in Lowell. From 1921 to 1951 Wolcott was listed in the Lowell City Directories as a "master" or "principal" at the Greenhalge School and living in Lowell at several addresses: after 1951 he is not listed in the city's directories. In addition to his position at Greenhalge School, Wolcott was the manager of the National Masters Studios.

To prepare for his career in education he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Education from Harvard University. He studied art with renowned New England painters Charles Herbert Woodbury (1864-1940); Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935); and William Worcester Churchill (1858-1926).

Wolcott was a member of the National Society of Mural Painters in New York City; Massachusetts State Chairman of the American Artists Professional League from 1941 to 1946; the president of the Lowell Art Association from 1944 to 1946; the St. Botolph's Club in Boston; and the Whistler House (now the Whistler House Museum of Art).

In a very popular research book, next to Wolcott's name in parenthesis, is (Fra Angelo Bomberto). The same book has a listing for Fra Angelo Bomberto that simply states: see Wolcott, John. This is probably because Wolcott was the author and illustrator of Fra Angelo Bomberto in the Underworld of Art,1946.

He exhibited his work at the1939 World's Fair in New York and was in many regional shows, including the Whistler House and Lowell Art Association. In addition to murals in the Park Square Building of Boston, Wolcott's work is adorning the High School in Gardner, MA. The Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA has two of his oils: Grant Hood House, North Tewksbury and Lowell in Gold Mist, the Vision, 1920.

Submitted by Peter Kostoulakos, ISA — Fine Art Consultant

References: Who Was Who in American Art, vol. I, page 690; Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002, page 1994; Whistler House Museum of Art files.


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