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Edward Henry Potthast is one of the most celebrated American landscape artists of all time, known for his portrayals of families enjoying their time of leisure at the park or the beach. His Impressionistic paintings mostly show landscapes and seascapes of New York and New England. Potthast’s paintings can be seen in the finest museums of the USA, like the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others. Potthast was born in the town of Cincinnati, Ohio on June 1857. At a young age, he began to study at the McMicken School of Design in his hometown, where he continued for about a decade, on and off. A few years later, in 1873, Potthast began to work at the Strobridge Lithography Company, where he mastered the art of lithography printmaking. Around 1879, the artist began to study with the portrait painter and retired Confederate Army Captain, Thomas Satterwhite Noble - who studied under the prestigious French history painter, Thomas Couture.
In 1881, the American artist traveled to Europe for the first time. Firstly, he visited Antwerp to study under the Belgium painters, Charles Verlat and Polydore Beaufaux. Afterward, he met with his former teacher, Noble, in Munich, a location many other American artists longed to go to and achieve success in their artistic career. In Munich, Potthast studied at the Royal Academy under Carl Von Marr (then Carl Marr), also born in America. To finish his grand tour of Europe, the artist studied at the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris for more than a month. In 1885, Potthast returned to his hometown and continued to study with his professor Noble, but would return to Paris a year later to learn with the historical painter Fernand Cormon.
Until about 1892, in Potthast’s late thirties, he made a living by working with lithography - a technique art critics looked down upon at the time. But after having a painting purchased by the Art Museum of his hometown, Potthast gained the confidence to start a career as a full-time painter. Throughout the artist’s career, he searched influences and teachings from other artists, but it was in 1889 that he met the Irish painter Roderic O’ Conor, along with Robert William Vonnoh, an American painter, who would impact his career forever. The two were Impressionist artists who worked with cool color pallets and loose brushstrokes. His return to America was of a new Potthast, with paintings filled with sunlight. This period was marked by works like Sunshine, which display a looser brushwork and an abundance of natural light.
He achieved relative success at Cincinnati, but in 1895 Potthast moved to New York City, where he had a broader perspective of his artistic career. It was during this period that the artist produced his most famous paintings of people gathered in friends and family at sunny locations, especially the beach. He enjoyed spending his summers at art colonies located at beaches like Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Gloucester, Rockport; Monhegan Island, Maine; among others. Potthast began working as an illustrator for New York magazines but soon began to exhibit his paintings in many galleries and receiving awards for his fantastic work. The artist was a private person and never married, although he spent a considerable amount of time observing children and families to portray in his paintings. Potthast passed away in his studio on 1927 in New York. His nephew, named after him, was one of the few people he was close to, who also became an artist.