Robert Wadsworth Grafton
Michigan City, IN
- LaPorte County
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A prolific landscape, genre, and portrait painter, Robert Wadsworth Grafton was born in Chicago in 1876. He was primarily active in Michigan City, Indiana although he spent much time in Chicago and traveled extensively. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Design and then at the Art Institute of Chicago. Anxious to expand his horizons, he later studied at the Academie Julian in Paris and also in Holland and England. Upon his return to Chicago he was a member of the Palette and Chisel Club and became its President in 1906. He was also a member of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, the Chicago Gallery Association and the Chicago Artists Guild.
He visited New Orleans during the winters between 1914 and 1918 and helped to organize the first art classes in the French Quarter. With his friend, Louis Oscar Griffin, he painted the fascinating provinciality of this port city. Together they painted murals in the St. Charles Hotel in 1917. Grafton also painted murals in the Kansas Wesleyan University, the Illinois State House and the First National Bank in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Known for his portraits of educators, professional men and public officials, Grafton painted the portraits of Indiana governors, McCray, Jackson and Leslie in 1927. Frederick Prince, the chairman of the Chicago Union Stock Yards and Transit Company, commissioned Grafton to repaint the portraits lost in the 1934 fire that destroyed the historic Stock Yard Inn and all the paintings in its gallery.
The Thurber Art Galleries in Chicago gave Grafton a one man show of ‘views of New Orleans’ in the 1917-1918 season. He exhibited at the Hoosier Salon where he won the Leroy Goddard Prize between 1925 and 1929. He also exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1907 and 1918, the Paris Salon, the Indiana Art Association in 1908, the Brooks Memorial Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Richmond Artists Association where he won prizes in 1910 and 1919.
Robert Grafton died in Michigan City, Indiana in 1936.
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