John (Jack) Fulton Folinsbee seemingly knew he was destined to be an artist from a young age. Born in Buffalo, New York, he began formal art studies at age nine and continued his education at the Art Students League in 1912 under the direction of John F. Carlson and Birge Harrison. These artists, and especially Harrison, would greatly influence his artistic trajectory by introducing him to Impressionism, a style that permeated his early work. At the suggestion of Harrison, the young Folinsbee moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania with his new wife a few years later and remained there for the rest of his life. There, he became part of the “New Hope Impressionists,” a group that included Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, and Folinsbee’s friend Harry Leith-Ross.
Although Folinsbee found great success with his impressionist works—one was accepted for exhibition at the National Academy of Design when he was just twenty-one—the artist explored other styles later in his career. Following a trip to France and England in 1926, Folinsbee began to explore colors and forms related to Expressionism. He also began traveling to Maine in the mid-1930s where he spent many summers with his family; this new locale dramatically influenced the artist’s work, introducing darker hues and looser brushstrokes to his canvases. Some of Folinsbee’s finest paintings are believed to be created during and after this period.
Folinsbee’s new style was welcomed by the art community and he continued to win prizes at national exhibitions: he was awarded the Sesnan Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1931); the First Benjamin Altman Price at the National Academy of Design (1941); and the Century Association Medal (1951) among others. He was also made an Academician of the National Academy. Today, Folinsbee’s paintings can be found at the James A. Michener Art Museum; North Carolina Museum of Art; and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Kirsten M. Jensen, “About John Fulton Folinsbee,” http://www.folinsbee.org/about,
accessed November 15, 2010.
Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, David B. Dearinger, ed.
(New York; Manchester, Vt. Hudson Hills Press, 2004), p. 197.