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George Biddle papers, circa 1910-1970

Biographical Note

New York painter and muralist George Biddle (1885-1973) proposed to President Franklin Roosevelt the establishment of a federal relief program for artists during the Depression, and subsequently painted a number of government murals under the auspices of the Federal Art Project, including murals for the Department of Justice in 1935.
Biddle was born to a prominent Philadelphia family and graduated from Harvard College. He studied at the Académie Julian and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and served in the United States Army in World War I, before returning to New York where he had his first series of one-man shows.
In 1933 Biddle wrote to long-time friend President Franklin Roosevelt, to suggest a work relief program that supported mural painters. Although the idea initially met with opposition, Biddle persisted and the resulting art projects of the Works Progress Administration went on to support the production of thousands of paintings in government buildings throughout the country during the Depression.
In 1940 Biddle was invited by the Mexican government to create a mural for the supreme court building in Mexico City. Biddle had visited Mexico in 1928 where he had traveled and sketched with Diego Rivera, and seen firsthand the value of government sponsored art programs.
In addition to his murals, Biddle was also known for his portraits, lithographs, and paintings. His work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and others. His work has been shown throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan, and India in over a hundred one-man shows and group exhibitions.