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Artist Biography

Leon Kroll was born in New York City in 1884. He studied art at both the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Kroll worked his way through art school as a janitor and made mechanical drawings for a living, before being awarded an Academy scholarship to study in Paris. In Paris, Kroll enrolled at the Académie Julian under Laurens. Back in New York, Kroll met George Bellows at an artist’s studio party in 1910. Kroll’s popularity as a realist artist grew and his lush brushwork, exciting compositions, and Fauve palette gained him the opportunity to exhibit at the famous 1913 Armory Show.

Leon Kroll and George Bellows painted together on the Maine coast each summer from 1913 to 1916. In the summer of 1917, Kroll and George Bellows decided to join Robert Henri in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to paint the local scenery. Kroll continued to be a leading artist in the 1920’s, focusing on still-life and figurative subject matter. In the 1930’s, Kroll painted several important murals, most notably for the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. and the War Memorial Building in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was also during those years that Kroll executed his best landscape and figurative works in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Kroll began winning awards early in his career, and by the end of his lifetime in 1974, he had accumulated as many honors as any other leading artist of his era. His memberships included the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Boston Art Club, National Academy of Design, National Arts Club, National Institute of Arts and Letters, New Society of Artists, New Society of Etchers, New York Society of Etchers, Philadelphia Art Club, Salmagundi Club, and the Society of Independent Artists. Kroll’s work can be seen in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Dayton Art Institute, OH; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; Los Angeles County Museum, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

William H. Gerdts, Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting (New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990)