Harry Roseland

Artist Biography

Brooklyn painter known for his genre scenes of postbellum Black Americans

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Notes
VII. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

Harry Roseland was born in 1866 to German immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, where he lived his entire life. Roseland studied art under John Bernard Whittaker at Adelphi College in Brooklyn, James Carroll Beckwith in Manhattan, and possibly Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia.[1] Before arriving at the style he became known for, Roseland experimented with landscapes, figure paintings, and still lifes. Between 1888 and 1898, he mainly painted scenes of working and agricultural life in New York City’s outer boroughs.[2]

In the last years of the century, Roseland developed his signature theme: realist portrayals of Black Americans. He typically depicted small groups of figures in domestic settings, his most common motif being an interaction between a young, upper class, white female and an elderly, lower class, black woman. By adopting this focus, contemporaries noted that the artist carved a niche in American art for himself.[3] In 1899, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle commented, “We have a painter in Brooklyn who has recently developed a field quite his own, and the popularity of his pictures bids fair to make him one of the most successful of the local artists.”[4] While many scholars have surmised that Roseland probably never visited the South, a 1927 article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle recounts Roseland’s earlier travels in Louisiana to “study black people” and interview former slaves as research for his paintings.[5]

In addition to actively exhibiting his original works, Roseland is also remembered for his success as a commercial artist. His paintings were reproduced lithographically and distributed as marketing incentives for various businesses around the turn of the century. For example, Knox Gelatin Co. advertised in popular magazines that by submitting an empty gelatin box with ten cents for shipping, the customer would receive a chromolithograph of a “famous painting” by Roseland.[6] Truth, a monthly literary magazine, advertised a similar offer: along with the purchase of the magazine, the customer would be sent a “charming” reproduction of “this famous artist’s canvases.”[7]

Over the course of his career, Roseland won many awards at exhibitions throughout the United States including the National Academy of Design, the Salmagundi Club, and the 1902 Charleston Exposition. His work now resides in the permanent collections of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Morris Museum.

II. Chronology

1866 Born in Brooklyn, New York
1896 Joins Salmagundi Club
1898 Marries Lillian May Whitney; Awarded second Hallgarten Prize by National Academy of Design
1904 Marries Olive May Sands on June 22 in Los Angeles, California
1950 Dies in Brooklyn, New York

III. Collections

Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama
Brooklyn Museum, New York
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey

IV. Exhibitions

Loeser Art Galleries, Brooklyn, New York
Salmagundi Club, New York, New York
Salons of America
The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

1884–86, 1891 Brooklyn Art Association, New York
1884–1900 National Academy of Design, New York, New York, second Hallgarten Prize (1898)
1887/8 Brooklyn Art Club, New York, gold medal
1888–1906 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 4 times
1891 Union League Club, Brooklyn, New York
1897 Gill’s Art Galleries annual, Springfield, Massachusetts
1902 American Art Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, silver medal; Salmagundi Club, New York, New York, bronze medal; South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, Charleston, South Carolina, bronze medal
1905–8 Boston Art Club, Massachusetts
1907 American Art Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gold; Corcoran Gallery of Art annual, Washington, D.C.
1910 Clark Galleries, New York, New York
1917 Brooklyn Society of Artists, New York
1917–18, 1932 Society of Independent Artists, New York, New York
1930 Brooklyn Society of Artists, New York, prize
1932 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

V. Memberships

Brooklyn Art Club
Brooklyn Painters and Sculptors
Brooklyn Society of Artists, vice president
Salmagundi Club, 1896

VI. Notes

1. Bruce W. Chambers, Art and Artists of the South: The Robert P. Coggins Collection (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, 1984), 48.
2. Frederick Baekeland, Images of America: The Painter’s Eye, 1833–1925 (Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Museum of Art, 1991), 109.
3. “Salon of the Dilettanti–II: The Farce of Art Juries,” Brush & Pencil 17, no. 1 (1906): 40; “Art Gossip,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 20, 1899.
4. “Art Gossip.”
5. “Harry Roseland Describes Mississippi Lowlands Now Under Fathoms of Flood Water,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 29, 1927.
6. Classified Advertisements, Colliers: The National Weekly, February 2, 1907.
7. Classifieds, The Art Amateur 43, no. 3 (1900): n.p.

VII. Suggested Resources

Baekeland, Frederick. Images of America: The Painter’s Eye, 1833–1925. Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Museum of Art, 1991.
Chambers, Bruce W. Art and Artists of the South: The Robert P. Coggins Collection. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, 1984.
Edwards, Lee M. Domestic Bliss: Family Life in American Painting, 1840–1910. Westchester, NY: The Hudson River Museum, 1986.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564–1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Vol. 3, P–Z. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

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