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Worthington Whittredge papers, circa 1840s-1965, bulk 1849-1908

Biographical Note

Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) was born in 1820 in Springfield, Ohio. Receiving very little formal education, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio at the age of 17 to serve as an apprentice house and sign painter. A few years later, in his early twenties, he briefly ran a daguerreotype studio in Indianapolis, Indiana, and worked as a portrait painter in Charleston, West Virginia.
In 1843 Whittredge decided to pursue landscape painting, and was greatly influenced by Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole. In 1849 he traveled to Düsseldorf, Germany, to further his training at the Düsseldorf Academy. There, he met painter Emanuel Leutze and modeled for Leutze's painting Washington Crossing the Delaware (1850). He lived for a year in the home of landscape painter Andreas Achenbach and became friends with Carl Friedrich Lessing. Whittredge spent the summer of 1856 sketching in Switzerland with Albert Bierstadt. That fall Whittredge and Bierstadt moved to Rome where they were joined by fellow artists Sanford Robinson Gifford and William Stanley Haseltine.
Whittredge stayed in Italy until 1859 when he returned to America and settled in New York City, renting a space at Richard Morris Hunt's famous Tenth Street Studio Building, which was frequented by some of the best-known artists, writers, and actors of the time. He kept company with Jervis McEntee, Eastman Johnson, Sanford Robinson Gifford, John Ferguson Weir, and other artists of the "old guard". Whittredge quickly became a very successful artist, adapting what he had learned in Europe to the American landscape. He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1860 and became a full member in 1862. He also served as President of the National Academy of Design from 1874 to 1877.
In 1866 Whittredge went along on a government inspection tour of the Missouri Territory and was greatly inspired by the landscape. He traveled to Colorado in 1870 with John Frederick Kensett and Sanford Gifford and, in the late 1870s, began painting these new landscapes. He moved with his family to Summit, New Jersey, in 1880. In 1893 he went on a sketching trip to Mexico with fellow artist Frederic Church and continued painting into the early 1900s. Around this time he also began writing his autobiography which he completed in 1905. Worthington Whittredge died in 1910 at the age of 89.