William de Leftwich Dodge
Also Known as: W. de Leftwich Dodge
Liberty, Virginia 1867
New York, New York 1935
William de Leftwich Dodge, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001488
William de Leftwich Dodge was born in Bedford, Virginia, but spent most of his childhood and adolescence between Paris and Munich where his mother resided to pursue her art study.
In 1895 he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme. At age nineteen he was awarded the gold medal of the American Art Association for a history painting depicting the death of Minnehaha, the subject of Longfellow's popular poem, Hiawatha. This and other of his figurative work was painted from life and based on careful research to ensure its historical accuracy. In 1893, while still very young, he was commissioned to decorate the dome of the central building of the Colombian Exposition, the famous "White City" in Chicago.
He emerged as one of the most prominent muralists of the era, at a time when murals were regarded as an essential element of most public architecture, theaters, municipal buildings, and even some private homes.
In 1906 he designed and had built for his use the classical Villa Francesca at Setauket, Long Island, a small corner of which is depicted in this painting.
Emery Battis Artist Biographies for the exhibition American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2000)