Carl E. Pickhardt, Jr.
Painter and printmaker Carl E. Pickhardt, Jr. was born in Westwood, Massachusetts in 1908. Little of Pickhardt’s childhood is known; however, he is recorded as attending Harvard University from 1927–1931 and studying under Harold K. Zimmerman during both his formal education and afterwards. Zimmerman’s methods likely influenced Pickhardt and his other students, including American social realist, Jack Levine, in their choice of subject matter and mode of personal expression. Following in the tradition of “The Eight,” Zimmerman’s students embraced the poignant circumstances to be found in every day life––especially those of the urban realm.
Pickhardt created both paintings and prints throughout the 1930s and 1940s. His works primarily featured lower-class city inhabitants including newsboys, butchers, and washerwomen. As noted by the artist, paintings of these figures were created to “express a mood” and “[reassert] the dignity of human beings . . . in these times of humanistic bankruptcy.” Pickhardt’s works were soon being shown in galleries, featured in periodicals including Parnassus, and exhibited at institutions including the Berkshire Museum. Although the exact dates are unknown, Pickhardt also worked as a teacher at the Worcester Museum School, Fitchburg Art Museum, and Sturbridge Art School.
In 1940, Pickhardt moved to New York City and rented an office on Union Square, which he used as his studio. Nevertheless, the artist eventually returned to Boston where he met his wife, Rosamond Forbes, who had also studied with Harold Zimmerman. Rosamond was further connected to Pickhardt’s alma mater through her father, Edward Waldo Forbes, who was the director of the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University and as a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is likely that the Forbes family admired and knew of Pickhardt’s art as early as the 1930s as two of Pickhardt’s prints were included in the Fogg’s collection by that period. Notably, the museum continued to acquire his works after the 1930s and currently holds sixty-two examples by the artist.
Pickhardt’s accomplishments were many throughout his career. He exhibited at the prestigious National Academy of Design in 1936 and 1942, when he was awarded the Shope Prize, which judged prints based on composition, at the Society of American Etchers show. In 1937 he exhibited at the McDonald Gallery and his work was featured in the Institute of Modern Art, Boston just two years later. Pickhardt’s work was included in the 1952 International Exhibition, Japan and the 1966 American Drawing Biennial in Norfolk, Virginia. Major New York exhibitions were also held for him at the Doris Meltzer Gallery and Jacques Seligmann & Co. during the late twentieth-century. Although Pickhardt died in 2004, his works still stand as a testament to the importance and emotionalism of social realism created throughout the 1900s. Today, his works are held in the collections of major museums including the New York Public Library, Phillips Academy’s Addison Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Brooklyn Museum, Library of Congress, and Museum of Modern Art.