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William Anderson Coffin papers, 1886-1924

Biographical Note

William Anderson Coffin (1855-1925) of New York City was a landscape and figure painter and art critic. He organized several notable exhibitions and art-related charitable events for relief work in post-World War I France.
William Anderson Coffin was born near Pittsburgh in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on January 31, 1855, the son of Isabella C. Anderson and James Gardiner Coffin. Coffin studied art and graduated from Yale University in 1874. Three years later, he left for Paris and studied with academic artist Léon Bonnat. Coffin exhibited in the Paris Salons of 1879, 1880, and 1882.
In 1882, Coffin moved to New York City, participating in many exhibitions, including at the National Academy of Design. He also wrote as an art critic for Scribner's and Harper's Weekly, among other publications. From 1886 to 1891, he was art critic for The New York Evening Post, and was art editor at the New York Sun from 1896 to 1901.
Coffin directed the Fine Arts Division of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo from 1900 to 1901, and participated as a member of the New York Advisory Board of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. Coffin was also president of the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred that established a relief fund for families of French soldier-artists. For this charitable work, Coffin received the medal of the Legion of Honor from the French government in 1917.
Coffin was a member of various arts organizations including the Lotos Club, the Architectural League of New York, and the National Academy of Design. His artwork is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Municipal Gallery of Venice, Italy, the Albright Art Gallery, and the Brooklyn Museum.
William Anderson Coffin died on October 26, 1925 in New York City.