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Artist Biography

Edward Potthast established a career as an illustrator and lithographer before he turned to painting. A native of Cincinnati, Potthast began his formal art-training under Thomas S. Noble at the McMickin School of Design. By age 22, he became emplyed at the Strobridge Lithograph Company, where he remained for the next three years. Potthast then went abroad to study in academies in Antwerp, Munich, and Paris during the 1880s.

Potthast returned in late 1889 to Cincinnati, and enrolled at the Art Academy, while supporting himself as a commercial lithographer and as an illustrator for Harper’s, Scribners and Century Magazines. In 1896, he moved to New York and, after another extended trip to Europe, started fulfilling his early promise as an Impressionist painter. In the mid 1890s, Potthast turned to painting figures, landscapes, and seascapes. In 1899, he won the famous Clarke prize at the National Academy of Design for the best figure composition. Potthast created a personal form of open-air painting which was characterized by a bright palette and strong brush strokes.

Potthast is considered one of America’s preeminent Impressionist artists. His memberships include the Allied Artists of America; American Water Color Society (1895; Board. of Directors); Art Club of Philadelphia (1898); Cincinnati Art Club (1891); Dragonfly Club, Cincinnati (1886-1889); Fine Arts Federation of NY (1910-1917); League of American Artists; Lotus Club (life member, 1912); National Arts Club, life member; National Academy of Design, Associate member in 1899 and National Academician in 1906; New York Water Color Society; New York Society of Painters; Painters & Sculptors Gallery Association; Salmagundi Club; Society of American Artists; Society of Men Who Paint the Far West (1911-20); Society of Western Painters (1897-1898); and the Societe des Artistes, Paris.

Potthast has won numerous awards throughout his career which include a medal at the Royal Academy, Munich (1885); Thomas B. Clark Prize, National Academy of Design (1899); Evans Prize, American Water Color Society (1901); Gold Medal, American Water Color Society (1902); Inness Prize, SC (1903, 1906); Silver Medal, St. Louis Univ. Expo. (1904); Morgan Prize, Salmagundi Club (1904); Hudnut Prize, American Water Color Society (1914); Silver Medal, Pan-Pac. International Expo., San Francisco (1915), Griscom Prize, American Water Color Society (1926); and the Osborne Purchase Prize, American Water Color Society (1927).

His paintings have become icons of American Impressionism and are found in many leading private and public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Cincinnati Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA; Butler Institute of American Art, OH; Ann Arbor Museum of Art, ME; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Terra Museum of American Art, IL; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art: 1564-1975 (Madison, CT: Soundview Press, 1999)
The Chapellier Galleries, Edward Henry Potthast 1857-1927 (New York, NY, 1971)
Hoopes and Donelson, The American Impressionists (Watson-Guptill Publication, NY, 1972)
Lisa Peters, Two Hundred Years of American Watercolors, Pastels, and Drawings (2001)
William H. Gerdts, Impressionist New York (Artabras Publishers, 1996)