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William Holbrook Beard
1824 - 1900
Born in Painesville, Ohio, William Beard painted anthropomorphic, satiric genre scenes with animals engaged in human activity, and frequently bears were his symbols for human beings.
Early in his career, he was basically self-taught although he painted with his older brother, James Henry Beard. From 1856 to 1858, he traveled in Europe and met and painted with many American artists including Emanuel Leutze, Sanford Gifford, Worthington Whittredge, and Albert Bierstadt. He returned to America and set up a studio in Buffalo, New York in 1850, remaining there until 1856 when he went to Europe. He returned in 1858, living in Buffalo until 1860 when he settled in NYC at the Tenth Street Studio Building.
In 1866, he traveled West by train, and in Colorado his companion was Bayard Taylor, a writer and lecturer. He wrote to his wife, the daughter of New York portraitist Thomas le Clear that he thought the landscape was monotonous, was disappointed he didn't see more buffalo, and was unhappy with wild life and hardship living. As a result, he turned more and more to his imagination, retaining an interest in wildlife but not in studying their habits and environment first hand. Many of his paintings showed animals, especially bears, as realistic physically but atypical in their behavior.
William Beard is generally regarded as a better artist than James Beard, but both were successful during their life times. William died in New York City.
The Bulls and Bears in the Market
DESCRIPTION - The setting for this picture is Broad Street, New York City, looking north, in front of the New York Stock Exchange which appears at the left; the columned Sub Treasury Building at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets appears in the distance.
HISTORY -This painting was purchased by the Society in 1971 from J. N. Bartfield Art Galleries in New York City.
The Bear Dance
DESCRIPTION - This romantic fantasy depicts bears--symbolic of conservative financial investors--celebrating a good business day; it was most probably painted earlier than The Bulls and Bears in the Market.
HISTORY - This painting was previously owned by the Strangers Club in New York City. When the club disbanded its property was divided among its members, and this painting was taken by Joseph R. Megrue,
father of the donor.
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