William Holbrook Beard (1823-1900 )

Born in Painesville, Ohio, William Beard painted anthropomorphic, satiric genre scenes with animals engaged in human activity, and frequently bears were his symbols for human beings.

Early in his career, he was basically self-taught although he painted with his older brother, James Henry Beard. From 1856 to 1858, he traveled in Europe and met and painted with many American artists including Emanuel Leutze, Sanford Gifford, Worthington Whittredge, and Albert Bierstadt. He returned to America and set up a studio in Buffalo, New York.

In 1866, he traveled West by train, and in Colorado his companion was Bayard Taylor, a writer and lecturer. He wrote to his wife, the daughter of New York portraitist Thomas le Clear that he thought the landscape was monotonous, was disappointed he didn't see more buffalo, and was unhappy with wild life and hardship living. As a result, he turned more and more to his imagination, retaining an interest in wildlife but not in studying their habits and environment first hand. Many of his paintings showed animals, especially bears, as realistic physically but atypical in their behavior.

William Beard is generally regarded as a better artist than James Beard, but both were successful during their life times. William died in New York City.

SOURCE: Askart "Biographical information for Beard, William Holbrook "


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