Charles Lewis Fussell - September 2007
Charles Lewis Fussell was an active presence in Philadelphia and New York art circles over a long period, from 1863 until his death in 1909, yet his work has so far attracted scant attention among scholars. He is often mentioned parenthetically in the literature concerning his famous friend and colleague Thomas Eakins (1844–1916), and his 1879 illustration for Scribner’s Magazine, Academy Students Dissecting a Horse, was reproduced in Lloyd Goodrich’s monograph on that artist.1 The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts obtained ninety of Fussell’s oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings for its permanent collection in 1973,2 and exhibited six paintings and five watercolors as new acquisitions. The academy’s curator, Frank M. Goodyear Jr., commenced research for an exhibition of the artist’s work, but the project never came to fruition. In 1976 Fussell’s watercolor The Spring (c. 1906, Free Library of Philadelphia) was included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s bicentennial exhibition Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, and a brief biography of the artist appeared in the accompanying catalogue.3 Fussell was also listed in several biographical dictionaries of American artists.4 Fussell’s name resurfaced in the wake of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s major exhibition Thomas Eakins: American Realist in 2002.5 We hope that the present exhibition, the largest showing to date of the artist’s work, will at last bring him the recognition he deserves.


1. Lloyd Goodrich, Thomas Eakins, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), 1:180.

2. These works are listed in The American Paintings in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: An Illustrated Checklist, comp. Nancy Fresella-Lee, ed. Jacolyn A. Mott (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1989), 48–50. Works by Fussell are owned by the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

3. Kathleen Foster, “Charles Lewis Fussell (1840–1909),” in Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art [exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art] (Philadelphia, 1976), 477–478.

4. See George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 247; Dorothy E. R. Brewington, Dictionary of Marine Artists (Salem, Mass. and Mystic, Conn.: Peabody Museum and Mystic Seaport Museum, 1982), 145 (where Fussell’s death date is erroneously given as 1905); and Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1564–1975, vol. 1 (Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1999), 1218.

5. For example, see David Sellin, Mark Sullivan, and William C. Patterson, Thomas Eakins and His Fellow Artists at the Philadelphia Sketch Club [exh. cat., Philadelphia Sketch Club] (Philadelphia, 2001), 42.

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