Born in 1885, George Biddle was an American social realist artist who is best-known for his strong support of government-sponsored art projects and artist relief during the Great Depression. His friendship with President Frederick Delano Roosevelt helped bring about the founding of the Federal Art Project and the Works Progress Administration.
Biddle was originally trained as a lawyer but he chafed against the dictates of the legal profession and soon abandoned law to become an artist. In 1911, he left the United States to study at the fabled Academie Julian in Paris. He subsequently studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and in Munich and Madrid. He recalled that, “I gobbled up museums, French Impressionism, cubism, futurism, and the old masters; I copied Velasquez in Madrid and Rubens in Munich…”
When he returned to the United States, Biddle became a staunch advocate of public art. His extensive correspondences with his former classmate and friend Franklin Roosevelt contributed to the establishment of the Federal Art Project. During World War II, Biddle was appointed chairman of the United States Department of War's Art Advisory Committee. In its aftermath, he was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, serving until 1951 and again from 1953 to 1955.
Though remembered as a social realist, George Biddle was an eclectic artist. He absorbed the lessons of French Impressionism, the Ashcan school, Cubism, Regionalism, and the Mexican muralists and fused them into a cohesive and coherent aesthetic. Biddle's paintings, drawings, and prints are held in many museum collections worldwide, including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Art Institute Chicago, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.