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Harry Mills Walcott (July 6, 1870 – November 4, 1944) was a leading American painter and teacher in the first few decades of the 20th century. He was known for highly decorative scenes of childhood. He was on the staff of the Art Institute of Chicago for many years. Walcott was an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design.[1]

Youth

Harry Mills Walcott was the son of a prominent pastor Dana Mills Walcott (1840–1919) and Elizabeth Billings (1840–1932).[2] His parents were married in Providence, Rhode Island on October 10, 1867. Walcott was the second of six children and he was born in Torrington, Connecticut, where his father had moved to take a position as clergyman. He grew up in Torrington and then in Bergen, County, New Jersey where his father had moved to take a position as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in 1876, when he was six and then 1st Congregational Church where he remained until his death more than forty years later.[3] Walcott was artistically talented and he attended the School of the National Academy of Design, where he studied under Will Low and received a classical French Atelier Style education. Walcott won the prestigious Havermeyer Traveling Scholarship in 1894, which allowed him to travel to France for artistic training.[4] In France, he studied at the private Académie Julian with Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens.[5]


Marriage

Walcott married another prominent artist Anabel "Belle" Havens on June 1, 1905[6] She was a grocer's daughter, born in Haven's Corner, near Columbus and raised in Newark, Ohio. She studied in New York at the Art Student's League and then in France and Holland. Before the Walcott's late marriage (they were both thirty-five) she had won the prestigious Hallgarten Price at the Annual Exhibition of the National Academy of Design in 1903. The couple lived in Rutherford, New Jersey until Harry accepted a position at the Art Institute of Chicago. In Chicago, the Walcotts initially boarded with a woman named Bertha Stott.[7] The couple had no children.[8]
Artistic career

Before leaving Europe he was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 1897 Paris Salon.[9] After returning to the United States, his work was shown first in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo New York where he was awarded with a medal and then in the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, which celebrated the Centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, where his work was again awarded a medal. Showing the esteem he must have been held at the time, in 1907 he was on the jury for the Art Institute's Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture with William Merritt Chase, Joseph DeCamp, Daniel Garber and J. Francis Murphy.[10] He won a medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, the World's Fair that celebrated the rebirth of the city after the 1906 earthquake and fire. After he retired from teaching at the Art Institute, he and his wife settled near her family in Newark Township, Ohio.[11] Walcott had a winter home in California late in his life, where at least one of his siblings had settled[12] and he died in San Diego, on Coronado Island.[13]
Analysis of art

There does not seem to be a great deal of research done on Walcott as this article is prepared.[14] The work that can be viewed are usually scenes of childhood, children running in fields[15] In spite of the small number of works that have been on the art market, his prices are quite high.[16]
Memberships

American Artist Association, Paris, France
Salmagundi Club, New York, New York
Society of American Artists, New York, New York
National Academy of Design, New York, New York

Prominent students

Edouard Vysekal
William Twigg-Smith (1883–1950)
Wilby Walter Hauserer (1891–1969)
Olin Travis (1888–1975)
Theodore Lukits (1897–1992)
Walter C. Brownson (1881–1968)

See also

Decorative Impressionism
American Impressionism
Art Institute of Chicago
National Academy of Design

Notes

Ask Art Biography, Who Was Who in American Art, 2001
Pastor Walcott's obituary is available behind the NYT pay firewall
Billings Family Records, Descendants of settler Roger Billings, available online.
New York Times, May 12, 1894, available online, no page available.
These teachers are in the standard references as well as the 1901 Art Institute of Chicago Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture catalog.
This is available through Billings Family records and the Ancestry.Com web site.
1910 United States Census, Ancestry.Com
Artists of Ohio, available online
Biography on Ask Art
1907 Art Institute of Chicago Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture catalog
1930 United States Census
Billings Family Records
Social Security Death Index
Although listings are plentiful in the standard art references, there does not seem to be any comprehensive account of his life
Images of these works are available on the commercial Ask Art and Art Net Web sites from auctions and gallery offerings.

The peak auction value is $156,000.

References

Circular of Instruction of the School of Drawing, Painting, Modeling, Decorative Designing, Normal Instruction, Illustration and Architecture., Art Institute of Chicago, editions of 1913–1914 through 1918-1919

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