Friday, November 09, 2007

Harry Leon Engle

Harry L. Engle (1870-1968)

Thisoldpalette would like to thank Alice E. Seaborne, the artist's daughter, for providing us with so much information about her father.

His career really exemplified the civic mindedness of artists -- and the art mindedness of civic leaders -- in the early decades of the 20th Century in Chicago.

*Born in Richmond, Indiana in 1870, he came to Chicago in 1889, and stayed there until joining his daughter in Appleton, Wisconsin, at the end of his life.

*Became an engrosser of the official "Certifications of Visitation" at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

*attended the Art Institute of Chicago for 4 years

* Appointed by Mayor Carter H. Harrison as Secretary for the Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art. which selected and bought work by prominent Chicago artists for the public schools. (note: this commission consisted of 7 members: 3 chosen by the Art Institute, one by the Municipal Art League, one by the Friends of American Art, one by the Palette and Chisel, and one by the mayor himself)

* served on the Chicago Park Commission for establishing Art Institute Branches in park buildings.

*President of the Palette and Chisel in 1908 and 1909.

* won the gold medal in an Art Institute exhibition

* Became the director of the Chicago Galleries Ass'n when it was founded by the Municipal Art League in 1928. He ran it until his retirement in 1957 at the age of 87. (at which time it folded)

The Chicago Galleries Ass'n, founded by the Municipal Art League of Chicago, opened in 1928 and closed upon the retirement of Harry L. Engle, its director. It was a non-profit, semi-civic institution with 150 governing members (lay) and 150 artist associates.The galleries distributed $22,000 annually among the artists in awards and prizes up until 1932.

Two member artists' show were held each year, where prizes and awards were granted. They were located on N. Michigan Ave. and moved to three different addresses: 220 N. Michigan, 215 N Michigan, and the finally 30 N. Michigan.

Art historian, Wendy Greenhouse, records that the CGA functioned as a dealer, taking a 25% commission on works that were sold - and was the adopted home of the conservative Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, which included Laredo Taft, as well as P&C members Albright, Ingerle, J. Jeffrey Grant -- i.e. the CGA offered a venue for the more conservative artists who were now being ignored by the Art Institute shows.

*He did not teach anywhere, nor is he known to have had any private students.

*Regarding permanent collections:a letter from William Preston Harrison, son of Mayor Carter Harrison III and brother of Mayor Carter Harrison IV, Chicago. dated April, 1920, states that he had given an oil painting by Engle, titled "Laurel Blossoms", to the Long Beach Library in Long beach, Ca.

He was also commissioned to do murals behind the judge's desk at Cook County Juvenile Court -- depicting boys fishing with cane poles in a pond.

(BTW -- Engle was also an active contributor to the CowBell -- and his remarks concerning the 1915 "Abstract Show" at the Palette and Chisel can be found here

The Dam (on Fox River ?)

Wood Nymph


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