Franklin Chenault Watkins : Still Life
Franklin Chenault Watkins (Still Life)

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Artist: Franklin Chenault Watkins
Title: Still Life
Media: Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches
Description: Signed at lower left: "F.W."
Supplier stamp on verso: "William I. Meil/1507 Walnut Street, Phila, PA."

Franklin Chenault Watkins was born in New York City. He attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Cecilia Beaux. Although the artistic training he received at the Academy was strictly academic, Watkins and other students there began to experiment with color and form, inspired by Post-Impressionists such as Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh. Watkins left the Academy in 1914 for two years, working in New York in order to earn money to continue his education. After returning to the Academy, he received two Cresson Travelling Scholarships, which he did not use for several years due to the war and financial constraints. In 1917 he enlisted in the Navy, serving as a camouflager along with the Philadelphia artist Arthur B. Carles, who would be a life-long friend. After his discharge, Watkins re-entered the Academy and studied until 1918, when he went to work for the Philadelphia advertising agency N. W. Ayer for five years.

In 1927, Watkins exhibited at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York with six other important Philadelphia painters: Carles, Earl Horter, Carroll S. Tyson (1878-1956), Adolphe Borie (1877-1934), Hugh Breckenridge, and Henry McCarter (1864-1942). Three years later, in 1930, Watkins exhibited his first major work, Suicide in Costume (Philadelphia Museum of Art), at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh, where it caused quite a stir due to its unusual subject and visual impact. The work shows a man dressed as a clown who has fallen over backward on a table top after shooting himself, the gun still smoking in his hand. The painting won first prize, bringing Watkins his initial fame.  In 1934, he was commissioned by Lincoln Kirstein to design the sets and costumes for George Balanchine’s ballet Transcendence.

Watkins exhibited widely throughout his career. He had his first solo show in 1934 at the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery in New York. He showed paintings at numerous exhibitions and won various awards, including bronze medals at the Paris International Exposition in 1937 and the Musée de Jeu de Paume in Paris in 1938; the 1939 gold medal at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; second prize at the 1939 International Art Exhibition in San Francisco for The Fire Eater (Philadelphia Museum of Art); the 1949 Gold Medal of Honor, the 1950 Fellowship Prize, and the 1954 Lippincott Prize, all from the Pennsylvania Academy; and a 1953 Fulbright professorship to Italy. He had solo exhibitions at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1940, and at the Arts Club of Chicago in 1945, a joint show with Carles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1946, and retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1950 and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1964. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he taught for almost twenty-five years, held A Salute to Franklin Watkins in 1972.

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Price: This item is no longer available for sale
Inventory: RS 6541
Category: •a:American•a:modernist•a:New York City•a:PAFA•a:Pennsylvania•a:Philadelphia•flower•impressionistic•still life•twentieth century•vase•Watkins, Franklin Chenault•
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