Jerome Myers was born in Petersburg, Virginia in 1867. He lived with his family in Philadelphia as well as Baltimore, before settling in New York City in the 1880s. Myers attended Cooper Union and the Arts Students League by night, while working by day in the art department of the Herald Tribune.
A painter, etcher and illustrator, Myers’s early work consists mainly of drawings, pastels and watercolors, as well as abundant illustrated articles, many of which were likely created when working at the Herald Tribune.
An urban realist, Myers typically painted scenes of immigrants residing on the Lower East Side. He captured the activities of everyday life, including the marketplace, children at play, and religious processions. During his time, Myers’s paintings were considered progressive on account of their subject matter. His compositions typically employed a synthesis of soft forms and muted colors. These works did not depict the harsh conditions of the slums, but instead portrayed a sense of optimism. Many of his scenes are were idealized, such as his paintings of children, devoid of the evident filth common to an overcrowded urban ghetto.
Myers is often associated with other realists, however the artist began painting urban life in 1887, decades before the Ashcan school exerted their influence on American art. His paintings are flooded with energy and positivity, qualities that are less prevalent in the work of other realists. Additionally, Myers distinguished himself from other painters of the same genre through his distinctive, statuesque depiction of figures.
In 1896 and 1914, Myers visited Paris, a locale he found to be particularly inspiring. The artist returned to the United States with a comprehension of and appreciation for the European art of the period. This newfound inspiration fueled Myers’s initiative to help found Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS). The goal of the AAPS was to exhibit both American and foreign art, and to bring European art to the United States. Additionally, there was an impetus to expose the public to varied types of art, specifically a greater selection than those exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Notably, the AAPS organized the Armory Show of 1913. This exhibition displayed many progressive works by both European and American artists, including Picasso, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Sloan, Bellows, and Prendergast. Prior to the Armory Show, the work of these artists had never been exhibited in the United States. The event was a tremendous success and challenged the public and academic notions of art, which led to the growth of modern art in America.
During the first decade of the twentieth century, Myers exhibited in numerous group shows. In 1904, his works were exhibited at the Society of American Artists, the Municipal Art Society, the Lotos Club, the Colonial Club, and at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis, where his painting Night Concert received the Bronze Medal. Between 1902 and 1910, eight works by Myers were selected for exhibition at the National Academy of Design. In 1908, Myers had his first solo exhibition of 25 works at the Macbeth Gallery in New York and received favorable commentary from critics.1 Myers published an autobiography entitled Artist in Manhattan, a few years before his death in 1940.
Myers’s works are included in the collections of many important American museums, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, National Gallery of Art, Phillips Collection, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.
1. Grant Holocomb. The Forgotten Legacy of Jerome Myers, (1867-1940): Painter of New York’s Lower East Side. American Art Journal. Vol. 9, No. 1, May 1977.
Grant Holocomb. The Forgotten Legacy of Jerome Myers, (1867-1940): Painter of New York’s Lower East Side. American Art Journal. Vol. 9, No. 1, May 1977.
Jerome Myers. Artist in Manhattan. New York: American Artist Group, Inc., 1940/
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Brooklyn Museum, NY
Canajoharie Art Gallery, NY
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Milwaukee Art Institute, WI
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Newark Museum, NJ
New Orleans Museum of Art, LA
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Rochester Museum, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
Associate Member of the National Academy of Design
National Academy, 1929
American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers
Woodstock Art Association
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Ann) 1903-1941
St. Louis Exposition, 1904 (medal)
Art Institute of Chicago, 1904-38
Corcoran Gallery Biennials, 1907-39 (13 times)
Salon of Independent Artists 1917, 1936
National Academy of Design, 1919 (prize)
Armory Show, NYC 1913
Salons of America, 1934
Whitney Museum of American Art