1852 - 1917
James Carroll Beckwith was a student of Walter Shirlaw at the Chicago Academy of Design. In 1871, he studied at the New York National Academy of Design for two years. From 1873 to 1878, in Paris, Carolus-Duran was his main teacher and he was his assistant (‘student in charge’, or treasurer) until May 1874. He shared a studio with John Singer Sargent for three years. In 1891, he spent some time in Giverny, among the colony of American artists. On returning to New York, he was an instructor at the Art Students League for 18 years. He returned to Europe several times in summer. He was a member of the Society of American Artists and the American Society of Painters in Watercolors. In 1894 he became a member of the National Academy of New York, and belonged to numerous other associations.
During his study period in Paris, he and John Singer Sargent collaborated with Carolus-Duran in the painting of the ceiling of the Palais du Luxembourg. Like his French master, Beckwith was essentially a portraitist. One of his best-known portraits was that of Mark Twain, which he painted in 1890. His portraits of notable personalities of the era now hang in prominent institutions, such as Yale University, John Hopkins University, West Point Military Academy, and several private collections. At the same time, when in Europe, he enjoyed outdoor landscape painting, for which he succeeded in adopting the touch, the clarity and the lively coloration of the Impressionists. He also carried out many commissions, including the decoration for the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, in 1893.
Apart from New York societies, he also participated in exhibitions and Salons, for example in 1892 at the Royal Academy in London, and from 1887 to 1913 at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris. He received numerous awards: 1887, Paris, merit award; 1889, Paris, Bronze Medal at the Exposition Universelle; 1895, Atlanta, medal; 1900, Paris, Bronze Medal at the Exposition Universelle; and 1902, Charleston, medal.
1992, Lasting Impressions: American Painters in France 1865-1915, Musée d’Art Américain, Giverny, Terra Foundation for the Arts
2002, American Impressionism 1880-1915 (L’Impressionisme américain 1880-1915), Hermitage Foundation, Lausanne
2006, Americans in Paris 1860-1900, National Gallery, London (also presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Baltimore (Peabody Art Collection): Portrait of William George Brown (oil on canvas)
Chicago (Terra Foundation for American Art Collection): French Spring (c. 1885); Mother and Child (between 1910 and 1914)
Detroit (IA): Self-Portrait (1898, oil on canvas)
New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Lake of Orta (1910 or 1911)
New York (Public Library): numerous drawings in charcoal and pencil