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Benson, Frank W.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951) studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and in Paris at the Academie Julian. His academic training, with studies in draftsmanship and design and emphasis on the figure, informed his artwork throughout his career, even as his styles changed. Initially Benson worked in the traditional academic manner, composing and painting in the studio with photographs and studies, but after 1898 he increasingly painted outdoors. He briefly taught at the Portland (Maine) School of Art, but by 1889 was teaching at the Boston Museum School, where he taught with Edmund Tarbell.

Benson is perhaps best known for his early 20th-century Impressionist paintings of women featuring his family at their island home at North Haven, Maine. But a shift in Benson's style coincided with his association with "The Ten," a group of artists from the Society of American Artists who grew disillusioned with what they saw as a decline in quality and innovation. The group also included William Merritt Chase (after 1902), Joseph DeCamp, Thomas Dewing, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Robert Reid, Edward Simmons, Edmund Tarbell, John Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir. The careers of Benson and Tarbell were marked at beginning and end by joint exhibitions; the two also taught summer classes in Newcastle, New Hampshire, and were involved in the building of Riverway Studios and the founding of the Guild of Boston Artists.

Always an avid sportsman, Benson's style changed again after 1912. In addition to his portraits and genre scenes, he painted seascapes and wildlife paintings. He began to experiment with etching, which he originally made in limited quantity for friends. However, they were so popular that his career became increasingly given to their production, and the cataloguing of these works in a five-volume publication solidified his reputation as a master of the medium. Benson also branched out into watercolor, a medium he ultimately preferred to oil painting, creating over seven hundred works in this medium. By the end of his career, Benson had earned numerous prizes, medals, and awards at exhibitions and international expositions, including gold medals at the Carnegie Institute, Corcoran Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, Philadelphia Art Club, Philadelphia Water Color Society, and the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition of 1926.No items found.