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Paul Cadmus letters to Webster Aitken, 1945-1979

Biographical Note

Painter Paul Cadmus (1904-1999) lived and worked in New York, N.Y. and Weston, Connecticut and was known for realist works of New York public life and the social lives of men. Cadmus was born in New York City to lithographer and watercolorist Egbert Cadmus and his wife, Maria Latasa, a fellow artist and book illustrator. With the support of his family, Cadmus entered the National Academy of Design at the age of 15 where he excelled in life drawing and printmaking classes. After graduating from the Academy in 1926, he continued his studies at the Art Students League where he met fellow artists Jared French and George Tooker. Throughout the 1920s, Cadmus found work as a commercial illustrator and layout artist for various agencies, including the New York Herald-Tribune.
In 1933, after two years of travel through France and Spain with Jared French, Cadmus returned to New York and was one of the first artists to be accepted into the federal Public Works of Art Project. Throughout the 1930s, his depictions of sailors and New Yorkers in public life were seen as controversial, beginning with the 1934 ejection of his painting The Fleet's In! from the Corcoran Gallery and continuing into 1940 with objections to the showing of Sailors and Floozies at the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition. Cadmus met his partner Jon Anderson in 1964 and featured him as a model for many of his subsequent works. Cadmus was a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and died in his home in 1999.
Pianist and educator Webster Aitken (1908-1981) lived and worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A student of Emil Sauer and Artur Schnabel, Aitken studied at the Curtis Institute and had his recital debut in Vienna in 1929 and his American debut in New York's Town Hall in 1935. He is known for his 1938 London and New York performances of Schubert's sonatas, and a series of programs on the late works of Beethoven performed at American universities. Aitken taught at the Carnegie Institute, the University of Illinois, and the University of Texas. He died in his home in 1981.