Crewes Warnacut

male 1900-1952
20th Century
Life city:
Inwood, IN
C. Hawthorne
W. Forsyth
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The following was graciously provided by Crewes' son, Wendell: CREWES VIRGIL WARNACUT (1900-1952) INDIANA ARTIST Prepared by his Son, Wendell EDUCATION: Elementary School: Inward, Indiana High School: Plymouth, Indiana Art Colleges: John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana (1919- 1925) where he studied under William Forsyth. New York Academy of Design (1925- 1926) where he studied under Charles Hawthorne and Charles Currans Other Colleges: Purdue University, Indiana where he took anatomy and education courses. HONORS: 1.) Scholarship to John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana. 2.) Scholarship to Yale University that he turned down to study under Hawthorne. 3.) Scholarship to the New York Academy of Design. 4.) Who is Who in Art 1934. AWARDS: Second Place in 1929 at the Illinois society of fine Arts, Chicago, Illinois in self-portraits in Competition with 36 other artists. Second Place in a art exhibit in South Bend, Indiana First Place in a Portrait Exhibit for northern Indiana artists at South Bend, Indiana. First Place in a Portrait Exhibit of 26 artists at John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana Honorable Mention in Portraiture Exibit of Art League of Northern Indiana, 1928. Second Place(2000 entries) in portraiture at All Illinois Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois 1927. First Place in Portraiture at the Indiana State Fair 1950. Honorable Mention in Portraiture at the 1950 Indiana State Fair. Prize in Portraiture at the Indiana State Fair 1925. 1st Place in sketching exhibit at the John Herron Art Institute 1928. There were other awards but records of them were lost. BIOGRAPHY: Crewes Warnacut was born on a farm on the plains near Urbana, Illinois, the fifth child in a family of five boys and three girls. The family moved to Inwood, Indiana in 1900. His father died when Crewes was eight years old. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Plymouth, Indiana in 1919. On graduation he was awarded an art scholarship to the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis. He studied art there under Mr. Forsyth. He studied art at John Heron from 1919 through 1925 when he graduated. On graduation he was offered scholarships in art from Yale University and the New York Fine Arts Academy. He chose The New York School of Design because he wanted to study under Charles Hawthorne and Charles Currans. He completed 2 years of study there. During the two years of study in New York he supported himself selling newspapers in the subway system. While in New York he contracted rheumatic fever. Unfortunately the rheumatic fever caused heart enlargement and a leaky heart valve that eventually led to his early death when he was only 52 years old. At the New York School of design that he learned the technique used by William Hawthorne, which is the style of the Old Masters. In later years his style changed back to something in between that of William Forsyth and that of William Hawthorne. After graduating from the New York school he moved to Chicago where opened his first studio. He painted well over 200 portrait commissions and many landscapes from 1927 to 1930. He painted many wealthy and influential Chicago personages. Nearly every Chicago Sunday there was an article about him or his wok in the newspaper. He was listed in the Whose Who in American Artists in 1933. He could turn out a portrait in about 8 hours and would receive $500 - $1500 per portrait. The Great Depression brought an end to people buying portraits and he was forced to close his studio. After closing his studio in Chicago he returned to Inwood, Indiana where he built a studio on 21 acres in that town. From 1930 until 1948 was a blank period in painting commission portraits. He worked for the WPA teaching art and painting murals in public buildings for them until 1939. In 1939 he opened a silk screen shop in Inwood. Two of the known accounts he had were the Santa Fe Railroad and the Chris Craft Boat Company. The one for the Santa Fe Railroad showed one of their streamliner trains with observation cars rounding a turn in the desert. The one for Chris Craft was of their mahogany speedboats towing a girl on skis. In addition he did advertising posters for the South Bend streetcars for various local businesses. In 1941 he was forced to close his silk screen shop in Inwood because of the rationing of oil paint by the government to promote the war effort. In 1941after he closed his shop he returned to Chicago to work for General Outdoor Sign Company where he designed billboard signs and hung them. One of the signs he designed was for Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer Company. In 1946 he purchased a 113-acre farm near Inwood and sold his studio home. In 1949 the economy improved and he started painting commissions again. He painted many landscapes for his leisure time but destroyed most of them because he was a “Portrait Painter”. He also made many pencil sketches of friends while they were visiting through out his career. He died suddenly in July 1952 just as he was making a come back from the dark years of the depression and World War II. This resume’ with photographs of some of his paintings and copies of newspaper clippings of his work are in the National Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

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