Edward Norton Griffith

(American, 1858-1948)

Edward Norton Griffith, a noted yet almost unknown trompe l'oeil life artist, was born February, 1858, in New Jersey, the son of Edward and Marietta K. Griffith. His father was a Methodist minister.  By the time of the 1880 census, Rev. Griffith was semi-retired and the family was living in the village of Hilton, Essex, New Jersey.  Edward was listed as working on a farm. Absolutely nothing is known of his artistic education; yet he is listed and pictured as a member of the Irvington (New Jersey) Art and Camera Club, founded in 1892.  Further census information states that by 1895 Griffith is living in Irvington, New Jersey, where he was to reside for the next 34 years.  In 1900 his occupation was listed as artist, but in 1910 his occupation was shown as a  carpenter-builder and in 1920 as a house painter. The city directories for Irvington (Orange), New Jersey, list him as an artist from 1900 to 1905, and as a carpenter from 1910 to 1926 when he retired to Florida permanently.  He married Anna (age 50) in 1912 but by the time of the 1930 census he is widowed and living in Avon Park, Florida.  He died there in 1948. The artist was known to have exhibited for a number of years at the Society of Independent Artists* in New York, beginning with their initial show in 1917.  These exhibits were open to anyone wanting to exhibit their work and were without juries or prizes.  Griffith showed trompe l'oeil still-life paintings almost exclusively and most were noted as sold.  He exhibited there from 1917 to 1923 and from 1926 to 1929. Dr. William A. Gerdts, in his comments pertaining to a trompe l'oeil still-life painting then in the collection of the Schwarz Gallery, stated that "Griffith took on the total iconography of (Michael) Harnett, but approached it in a manner not only painterly but really romantic, with an emphasis upon irregular outlines, and dynamic compositional lines seemingly incompatible with the school."Edward Norton Griffith was a trompe l’oeil still life artist whose works date from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century  and show the strong influence of artist William Michael Harnett.