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George Hand Wright: An Artist’s Life Examined

By Kirsten M. Jensen
Softcover: 92 pages
Publisher: Pen Press
ISBN-13: 978-1605303451
Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 8.3 x 0.3 inches

George Hand Wright (1872-1951), an illustrator, watercolorist, pastelist, and etcher, was born in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania was educated at in Philadelphia at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Spring Garden Institute, where the later founders of the Ashcan School, Robert Henri, John Sloan and William Glackens, were classmates. This book, the first biography of Wright, traces his life in art, beginning with his apprenticeship to a lithographer, and his year of European travel where he filled sketchbooks with character studies that captured “the very essence of his subject” according to one contemporary critic. Wright’s subsequent 40-year career as an illustrator coincided with what has been called “the Golden Age of American illustration.” Wright’s genius as an illustrator was recognized by the editors of Harpers, Scribner’s, Century, Collier’s, and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1907, Wright moved from New York City to Westport, Connecticut, and soon was recognized as the Dean of the bourgeoning group of artists following him as members of the Westport art colony. Wright’s relocation to what was then a rural section of New England produced a shift in his subject matter. Abandoning the scenes of sophisticated urban life which had occupied Wright in New York, he now focused on the ramshackle life of small towns and farms. His etchings became pungent with the life of the soil and the last echoes of the leisure and romance of the Old South. The reader may find the most interesting aspect of this book to be the author’s favorable comparison of George Wright’s art with the work of his peers, including the illustrations of Howard Chandler Christy, the watercolors and pastels of Winslow Homer and Childe Hassam, and the etchings of John Taylor Arms and Kerr Eby.