More about John White Alexander

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John White Alexander had an artistic career that was about as exciting as his name.

John White Alexander was born in 1856 and was soon thereafter orphaned. He lived with his grandparents and by the tender age of 12, he was a working man. As a a telegraph boy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he fell under the wing of prominent businessman, Edward J. Allen, who eventually adopted Alexander. Soon the Allen family as well as Alexander’s employers found out that he was not half bad with a pencil and encouraged his artistic career. By the time Alexander was eighteen he headed out for New York to pursue art. He apprenticed as a political cartoonist and an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly for three years before he decided to move on to Europe. Alexander started in Munich under the eye of Frank Duyaneck, another American. After that he did the full tour: Venice, Florence, Paris, and the Netherlands to keep up his artistic endeavors. He popped back to America in 1881 for ten years and found much success and also his wife. Her name was Elizabeth Alexander, and they were introduced to each other purely because they shared a last name. (They weren’t related though).

Alexander made many paintings whilst on American soil, but it just wasn’t enough for him. He needed more. So in 1891 he moved to Paris, and in 1893, fate stepped in. He got an exhibition at the Paris Salon. It all came together after that. He was elected to the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, the Legion of Honor, the National Academy of Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was elected president of the National Society of Mural Painters. People were going bonkers over “his studies of female figures gracefully posed in elegant interiors.” Over his career he painted figures like Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry G. Marquand. You may not recognize any of those names, but trust me, they were important. As was John White Alexander.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about John White Alexander

John White Alexander (7 October 1856 – 31 May 1915) was an American portrait, figure, and decorative painter and illustrator.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about John White Alexander