George Biddle (American, 1973)

Timeline

1885
Born in Philadelphia, PA
1911
Received a law degree from Harvard University and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar
1911
Biddle went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian
1912
Returned to Philadelpia to enroll at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1914
Biddle returned to Europe to study printmaking in Munich before going to Paris
1915–1916
Summers were spent with the American expatriate artist Frederick Carl Frieseke in Giverny
1917
Biddle returned to Philadelphia to pursue his career as an artist, but marriage and then service in the army interrupted his work
1919
Biddle’s marriage failed, he traveled to Tahiti for isolation and inspiration. In Tahiti he experimented with linocuts, woodcuts and lithotints, as well as painting colorful images of the island and its natives
1922
Biddle returned to the United States and worked in New York with a group of talented, younger artists, some of whom- Marguerite and William Zorach, Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise- became lasting friends. He continued to work in various media and had several successful exhibitions in New York galleries, including Wildenstein and Weyhe Galleries.
1924
Biddle returned to Paris for two years to sculpt stone, clay, and wood and worked seriously as a printmaker again
1925
Biddle re-married and traveled to Cuba and Haiti in 1926-1927.
1928
Biddle accompanied Diego Rivera on a sketching trip through Mexico. Impressed by the passion and the political and social awareness of the Mexican muralists, Biddle decided to devote his own art to the contemporary American scene and to paint the social, economic, and political issues facing America
1929
Biddle’s second marriage to Jane Belo ended
1930
George and Ira Gershwin commissioned George Biddle to illustrate the libretto for Porgy and Bess. The artist spent May and June in Charleston, where he produced a large folio of drawings of the local people involved in everyday activities from which the illustrations for the libretto of Porgy and Bess were selected.
1931
Remarried the Belgian sculptress Hélène Sardeau. The couple spent a year in Rome working on oils, drawings, lithographs, and ceramics.
1932
Biddle and Sardeau returned to the home Biddle had built in Croton-on-Hudson
1933
Biddle proposed his idea of a government-sponsored mural program similar to the one he witnessed in Mexico to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After many meetings with Roosevelt and other government officials, the Federal Arts Program was implemented.
1933
Biddle executed his first mural for the Chicago World’s Fair
1936
He executed a mural for the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
1936–1937
Biddle had his first teaching position at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center
1940
1940 Biddle collaborated with his wife to execute the frescoes and sculptures for the Supreme Court Building in Mexico City
1941
Biddle was the artist-in-residence at the Otis Art Institute in California.
1942
Biddle received the mural commission and Sardeau received the sculpture commission for the Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro
1943
Biddle was appointed Chairman of the U.S. War Artists Committee and spent six months with American troops in Tunisia, North Africa recording his observations in drawings and watercolors. Many of these works were published in George Biddle’s War Drawings in 1944.
1950
George Biddle was appointed to a four-year term on the Fine Arts Commission by President Truman.
1951–1952
artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome
1954
He was awarded the Huntington Hartford Foundation Prize which led him to be an artist-in-residence in 1955 at the Foundation’s home in one of the canyons of Los Angeles, California. He spent most of the following years in Croton and travel in later years took him to Japan, Southeast Asia, India and Italy.
1973
George Biddle died in Croton on November 6, 1973.

Exhibitions

1929
A one-man exhibition of Biddle’s Mexican works was held at the Frank Rehn Gallery, his dealer until 1939, in New York
1920
One-man exhibition of Biddle’s Tahitian paintings was held at the Milch Gallery