Untitled Document

Artist Biography

Though born in Kentucky (only because his parents were on a short visit to the state), Curran was raised in the artistic community of Sandusky, Ohio. He took classes at the Cincinnati School of Design before moving to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design.

The young artist became somewhat of a sensation in New York artistic circles relatively quickly. One of his paintings was accepted for the National Academy’s prestigious annual exhibition in 1883, despite the fact that he was still a student. And unlike many of his peers who pursued study abroad before they began to achieve any real career recognition, Curran had already been elected an associate member of the Academy (as well as to the Society of American Artists) and had won its coveted Hallgarten prize before he even left to study at the Académie Julian in Paris [John Davis, “Charles Courtney Curran,” in David Dearinger, ed., Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, vol. I (2004), p. 139].

Basing his career on idealized subject matter (frequently lovely young women in exquisite out-of-doors scenery, as in the present work), Curran was one of the few artists who could actually carry off such a focus without venturing into overt sentimentality. He became one of the most popular artists of his time, earning the respect of critics, exhibition juries, collectors, and his peers alike. But even with his enviable technical skills and list of accomplishments, the enduring appeal of Curran’s work was perhaps best described by Theodore Dreiser when he wrote:

"Some of [Curran’s] pictures are worthy of the term beautiful in its cleanest sense….His work has purity of subject and feeling, and poetry of conception. For the expression of the serener phases of life, little more is required."  [Truth, p. 231]