John White Alexander Oil Paintings | Biography

10-17-1856 Allegheny, USA - 5-31-1915 New York, USA

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Alexander, John White

John White Alexander was orphaned in infancy, he was raised by his grandparents and, at 12 years old, became a telegraph boy in Pittsburgh. Edward J. Allen turned into an early supporter and benefactor of John White Alexander, adopting Alexander while he worked at the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Co. as a young fellow. Allen brought Alexander to his home at "Edgehill" where Alexander painted different individuals from the Allen family, including Colonel Allen. His ability at drawing attracted the consideration of one of his managers, who helped him to develop his talent.

He moved to New York at eighteen years old and worked in an office at Harper's Weekly. Following an apprenticeship of three years, he made a trip to Munich for his first formal art training. Because of his lack of funds, he moved to the town of Polling in Bavaria and worked with Frank Duveneck. Together they ventured out to Venice, where he benefitted from the advice of James Whistler who he met, and afterward, he proceeded with his education in Florence, the Netherlands, and Paris.

In 1881 he came back to New York and rapidly made incredible progress in portraiture, numbering among his sitters Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Burroughs, Henry G. Marquand, R. A. L. Stevenson, and President McCosh of Princeton University. His first presentation in the Paris Salon of 1893 was a splendid achievement and was followed by his election to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1901 he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and in 1902 he became a member of the National Academy of Design, where he was its President from 1909-1915. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and President of the National Society of Mural Painters.

John White Alexander was married Elizabeth Alexander, to whom he was presented on account of their common last name. Elizabeth was the daughter of James Waddell Alexander, President of the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Art Movement History: Realism.
Artists Influencing John White Alexander: Frank Duveneck, James Whistler.
He Traveled To Germany, Italy, Netherlands, France.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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