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Frank Virgil Dudley

male 1868-1957
Life city:
Chicago, IL
Work city:
Portage, IN
Spinner a96 eed
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  • Porter County

We're very interested in buying artwork by Frank Virgil Dudley. Please contact us for more information.

Frank Virgil Dudley was known as a the ‘painter of the Dunes’. He first visited the Northern Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan in 1911, and was instantly fascinated with them. He eventually built a cabin there in 1921, paid for with painting and prize proceeds from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dudley was born in Delavan, Wisconsin in 1868. He was one of three brothers born to Deaf parents, James A. and Flora Virgil Dudley. Communicating in sign language, James Dudley taught his sons the craft of house painting. The father also was an easel painter and skilled draftsman, where Frank invariably picked up his earliest art instruction. He later took night classes at the Art Institute under instructors John H. Vanderpoel and Charles Boutwood.

Frank married Haley Boxwell in the 1890’s, and their son Paul was born in 1898. He supported his family with his artwork. His wife died suddenly in 1904, and thereafter, Frank Dudley turned mostly to plein air landscape painting.

In 1913 he married , Maida Lewis, with whom he spent the rest of his life. She often sat nearby while he painted the Dunes in all seasons.

By 1916, the Indiana Dunes became his main subject matter and focus. In 1918, thirty of his paintings were featured in a Chicago Art Institute exhibit, “Western Scenes”, which was co-sponsored by three clubs devoted to the conservation of the dunes. Patrons of the show were reportedly surprised that the dune paintings reflected scenes of unspoiled beauty from Indiana, their own region.

By 1921 Dudley was receiving increasing exposure for his regional focus of the Dunes and Lake Michigan, so he closed the small art supply business he was running in Chicago, and built a cabin for full-time painting on Lake Michigan near Chesterton, Indiana.

Dudley’s studio and cottage became a gathering place for many painters attracted to the Indiana Dunes and the lake. They became very involved in the conseveration movement to protect the areas, and their canvases opened the eyes of the public, which led to the establishment of two-thousand acres as the Indiana Dunes State Park in 1923.

At that time, Dudley made an arrangement to be able to keep his cabin as rental property within the park in exchange for one painting a year donated to the Indiana State Department of Conservation. Living in the Park for over thirty years, he died in 1957.

Exhibition venues include the Hoosier Salon, Art Institute of Chicago, Cedar Rapids Art Association, Corcoran Gallery and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Sources include:


Wendy Greenhouse, “Frank Virgil Dudley”, Union League Club of Chicago Art Collection, Marianne Richter, Editor

Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

Chicago Tribune, 3 Sept. 1967.

Kathleen Brockway, personal correspondence.

We are extremely interested in obtaining artwork by Frank Dudley. Please contact us if you have a piece you are considering selling.

Dudley jackson harbor thumbDudley midsummer morning  siight 27x30  thumbDudley 27x 30 thumbDudley 4 6 11 no frame thumbDudley dune inlet thumbDudley 12x16 earlyautumnpath thumbDudley 12x16 thumbDudley 24x30 thumbDudley 23x30 thumbDudley dune charms 14x16 thumbDudley on the threshold of spring thumbDudley thumbDudley autumn road site thumb

Can you tell us more about the life or art of Frank Virgil Dudley? Please contact us if you can add to our biography.

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