William Glackens

William Glackens at work in his studio, 1935, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001678
William Glackens
Also Known as
William J. Glackens
William James Glackens
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1870
Westport, Connecticut 1938
Active in
  • New York, New York
  • Paris, France
U.S. States
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Artist Biography

[William Glackens] began his career as an artist reporter in order to support himself while he studied painting in night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy. The forerunner of the modern news photographer, the artist-reporter was sent to the scene of a news story and his sketches, made later from memory, were translated by craftsmen into wood engravings to be printed with the newspaper.

Painting was Glackens' primary interest, however, and he left Philadelphia in 1895 for Paris. There he found the work of Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, and other independents, who had broken with the classical sterility of the Academie in favor of everyday subjects and new freedoms in painting techniques. His admiration for their work strengthened his own sense of direction, but on returning to New York the next year Glackens found that he must once again support his study of painting by working as an illustrator. He became a sketch artist for the New York Herald and the Sunday World.

Janet A. Flint Drawings by William Glackens: 1870–1938 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Collection of Fine Arts, 1972)