Mary Morris Vaux received a set of watercolor paints at age eight and began experimenting with painting flowers. After her mother's death when Mary was nineteen, she assumed the responsibility of looking after her two younger brothers and her father.
A self-taught artist, George Catlin is best remembered for his extensive travels across the American West, recording the lives of Native Americans in a collection of images the artist called his Indian Gallery.
Carl Newman taught figure drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was friends with the painter Henry Lyman Saÿen, and they spent a summer together in Paris, experimenting with color by creating new, brighter shades of paint (Breeskin, H. Lyman Saÿen, 1970).
Man Ray was a leading figure in the European and American avant-gardes of the 1920s and 1930s, including Dada and surrealism. He pushed the boundaries of each medium he used, inventing techniques that revolutionized photography, film, and painting.
Thomas Moran was the first American painter to capture the grandeur of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Born in England, he immigrated to America as a child and apprenticed to an engraver in Philadelphia.
Henry Lyman Saÿen worked as an artist and scientist throughout his career. He acquired several patents for his inventions, which included a new type of X-ray tube and a steel billiard ball.
Henry Ossawa Tanner was an African American artist who earned international acclaim for his religious paintings. His father was a prominent minister and his mother a former slave who escaped the South through the Underground Railroad.
Born c. 1813 (or 1823) in Bulgaria. Studied art in Paris. Immigrated to the U.S. with the English ethnologist William Blackmore and his expeditionary party, about 1845. Was in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington during the 1860s. Lived in Washington, D.C., 1876–99.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennell graduated from Germantown Friends. He studied art first at the School of Industrial Art (now the Philadelphia College of Art), and later at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Albert Laessle was the son of German immigrants who settled in Philadelphia in the 1850s. He may have come by his artistic skill from his father, who was a wood-carver by trade.
Charles Sheeler attended the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art for three years before enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under William Merritt Chase.
- As a child, Alexander Calder had his own workshop where he created gadgets and toys from scraps of metal and wood.