Alonzo Chappel was an American printmaker and painter. He is known for creating several depictions of historic battles of American history, especially the American Civil War. The artist also executed portraits of prominent people, military, and politicians, such as President George Washington.
Alonzo Chappel was born in March 1828 in New York City. His father was a tinsmith of moderate means, unable to provide much education for his two sons, George and Alonzo. However, it is that possible Alonzo`s parents were very supportive of his early efforts in portrait painting. By twelve years old, young Alonzo would set up an eales on the sidewalks of New York City, charging 5 or 10 dollars to make a portrait of any willing passerby.
At age 14, Chappel left school to learn window-shade painting and japanning. Two years later he Chappel was listed in the New York City Directory. Around this period, he had developed considerable technique and would charge 25 dollars for a portrait. The artist then enrolled at the National Academy of Design in the antique class. This appears to be the extent of Chappel’s formal training.
By 1848, Chappel was living in Brooklyn, where he would continue his career as a fashionable and lucrative portrait painter, as well as branching out as a stage scene decorator. About that time, he married Almira Stewart. In the next year, Chappel visited Cuba, where he produced scenes for a commission.
From 1849 until the early 1850s, Chappel often exhibited genre paintings at the American-Art Union and also participated in shows at the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Art Association, as well as at the prestigious Goupil Gallery.
In 1857, Chappel founded The Sketch Club, alongside several distinguished artists, including the prominent landscape painter George Inness. The goal of the club was to establish a united organization of artists, as well as encourage artists` original work. The group meetings consisted of showing and critiquing their mutual artworks. The group soon reached forty members and soon became noteworthy to the general public.
As his career was flourishing, Chappel’s personal life took a hit, for his wife died in 1863. The artist remarried some years later. There is limited information on the extent of his family apart from a son called Alonzo and a daughter, Ollie.
As opposed to his highly prolific career, Chappel’s late-life was rather quiet and uneventful. However, one morning he was attacked by a crazed stranger who was threatening him, defending himself he shot the man dead, this occasions would scar the artist for the remainder of his life.
Alonzo Chappel died in December 1887, in Middle Island, New York.