Sale 1147 Lot 152
William Edouard Scott
(African-American; 1884 - 1964)
Oil on canvas
c. 1920. Signed.
Born in Indianapolis in 1884, William Eduoard Scott became one of the most prolific mural, portrait, and genre artists to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout his lifetime he worked steadily to inspire pride within the African-American community so that a better understanding could be achieved between the races.
He attended Emmerich Manual Training High School in Indianapolis, and returned here after graduation in 1903 to work as an assistant art teacher. He was, in fact, the first African-American to teach in a public high school in Indianapolis. Here, he received additional drawing instruction from Otto Stark, head of the art department, and also at the John Herron School of Art. In 1904, he left to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. He supported himself with scholarships and prizes, and also by painting murals at public schools in Chicago and the surrounding area and Washington D.C.
After graduation and advanced training he traveled to France, the first of three sojourns to Europe between 1909 and 1913. Within this period he met and spent time under the tutelage of Henry O. Tanner, whom he considered a genius, enrolled as a student at the Académie Julian, and had works accepted at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Francais in Paris, only the second African-American after Tanner to do so. He also enrolled in the Colarossi Academy and participated in an exhibition at the Salon de la Société Artistique de Picardie Le Touquet at Paris-Plage. His work here in Europe was focused on French genre scenes, peasant life in particular.
Upon his return to Chicago, he began to use racial themes as subject matter coupled with his academic training. Again he was able to support himself with numerous mural and portrait commissions including portraits of Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver. He also illustrated several covers for The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP.
The year 1931 ushered in another important period in Scott's life, when he received the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to study and paint in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He spent over a year here and completed over 144 works depicting peasant life. As Haiti inspired him to paint, he himself inspired locals to paint and portray local scenes. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince and was recognized by the Haitian government for his contributions to society.
Upon his return to the States, he painted and received recognition for numerous murals. In the 1950's, he concentrated mostly upon portraiture. He continued painting until his death in 1964. Throughout his career, he remained true to a realist style and traditional methods of painting, from his years of study in Europe.
His work can be found in the collections of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Clark Atlanta University Collection of African American Art, the DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago; Fisk University, Tennessee; and the Amistad Research Center, Louisiana.
25" x 30"
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