biography of William de Leftwich DODGE (1867-1935)

Birth place: Liberty, VA

Death place: New York, NY

Addresses: NYC (studio)

Profession: Painter, mural painter, history painter, illustrator

Studied: Munich, briefly in 1880; Ecole des Beaux-Arts, with Gérôme, Paris, from 1885; Académie Julian, Paris with Collin, 1889

Exhibited: Prize Fund Exh., NY, 1886 (gold, for "The Death of Minnehaha"); Paris Salon, 1887-89, 1894-96, 1898-99; Paris Expo, 1889 (medal); NAD, 1891, 1893, 1928; PAFA, 1891-1907; Columbian Expo, 1893 (medal for mural in dome, Administration Bldg); AIC, 1895, 1898, 1901 (solo show, 70 works); American Art Galleries, NYC, 1896 (solo); Durand-Ruel Galleries, NYC, 1904; Pan-Pacific Expo, 1915 (two decorative murals in the Court of Jewels); Palace Hoter, San. Fran., 1915 (easel pictures); Portland AA, Oregon, 1915; Folsom Galleries, NYC, 1915 (solo); S.Indp.A., 1917; Corcoran Gal, 1928; Milch Galleries, NYC, 1928 (solo, watercolors of Greek ruins in Sicily), 1931 (solo, Mayan ruin watercolors, " William de Leftwich Dodge/Watercolors of Yucatan, 'Land of the Mayas'); Salons of Am., 1929; Brooklyn Mus., 1931; Chicago's Century of Progress, 1933; Beacon Hill Fine Art, NYC, 1998; Grand Central Art Gallery.

Member: Soc. of Mural Painters; AWCS; Beaux Arts Soc.

Work: Mural Commissions: four tympanums and dome ceiling for the northwest pavilion of the LOC; 24 paintings for State Capitol, Albany, NY; Brooklyn Acad. Music; lobby of Buffalo City Hall; Hall of Records and Surrogate Court, NYC; hotels in NYC, including Hotel Algonquin; Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa; he also did theatre murals for Majestic Theatre in Boston, the Orpheum Theatre in Philadelphia. Easel paintings and watercolors, etc.: NMAA; MMA; NAD; Greenville (SC) County Mus. A.

Comments: Moved with his mother (Mary), sister Anita, and brother Robert to Europe in 1880, first stopping at Munich, and then settling in Paris in 1881. Painted at Giverny in the summers of 1898, 1899, and 1900. He and his wife Frances Theodora Bland Pryor built an elaborate Greek Revival mansion, called Villa Francesca, at Setauket, Long Island, in 1906. Known primarily for his grand, decorative murals, he fulfilled numerous commissions for public buildings (the most visible being the Library of Congress dome and four tympanums, 1895-96) and private residences. Although his easel paintings are not as well-known, Dodge never abandoned this practice, composing luminous Impressionistic pictures, especially garden scenes, in oil and watercolor. His easel paintings constitute an important part of his oeuvre. Traveled to Sicily in 1926, and to Mexico in 1930, painting in both places a series of watercolors depicting ancient ruins. Dodge was also an inventor; one of his model helicoptors is owned by the Smithsonian. Positions: illustrator, Century; Chief of Color at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial, 1926. Teaching: ASL, 1915, 1925-29; Cooper Union, 1916-29. Cf. Marie Leftwich Dodge.

Sources: WW33; William De Leftwich Dodge: Impressions Home and Abroad, exh. cat., with essay by Ronald Pisano (New York: Beacon Hill Fine Art, 1998); 300 Years of American Art, 605; P&H Samuels, 141-42; Fink, American Art at the Nineteenth-Century Paris Salons, 338.