William Franklin Draper (American, 1912-2003). Untitled (nude study), gouache and watercolor, ca. 1970s. Signed "Wm. F. Draper / Sketch Class Century Ass." on lower right. A painted study of two female nudes by American artist William Draper, created at the Century Association in New York City. One woman sits on a platform, resting her left elbow upon a raised knee, with her right hand placed behind her hip, and her right leg bent at the knee and relaxed. Below and in the foreground is another model reclining in the fetal position, with the back of her hourglass shaped figure facing the viewer and her right arm behind her head. A wonderful composition created by William Draper in a figure drawing session at the famous Century Association. Set in custom frame behind glass. Size: 16.625" W x 13.75" H (42.2 cm x 34.9 cm); 21.25" W x 18.75" H (54 cm x 47.6 cm) framed
The Century Association is a private club that was founded in 1847 in New York City which grew out of the Sketch Club, an earlier organization founded by poet William Cullen Bryant and friends in 1829. The club was designed to promote the arts and was open to "Artists, Literary Men, Scientists, Physicians, Officers of the Army and Navy, members of the Bench and Bar, Engineers, Clergymen, Representatives of the Press, Merchants and men of leisure." (Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999), "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898." New York: Oxford University Press.) Early members included Winslow Homer, Paul Manship, Stanford White, and Frederick Law Olmstead.
William Draper's career spanned seven decades and his subjects included a portrait of John F. Kennedy that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. based upon an oil sketch for which the president sat in 1962. Draper was actually the only artist who painted JFK from life. Draper showed at Knoedler, the Graham Gallery, Portraits, Inc., the Far Gallery, The Findlay Galleries (New York, NY) and the Robert C. Vose Galleries (Boston, MA). His work has been included in shows at the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), The National Academy of Design (New York, NY), The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, (Boston, MA) the Fogg Art Museum, (one of the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA), the National Gallery, (London), Salon de la Marine (Paris) and in museums in Australia. He also taught at the Art Students League of New York, and received a lifetime achievement award from the Portrait Society of America in 1999.
More on the artist's background: William Franklin Draper was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts on December 24, 1912. A child prodigy, he studied classical piano at Harvard University. He later changed his focus to fine art and studied with Charles Webster Hawthorne and Henry Hensche in Provincetown, Rhode Island. Draper also attended the National Academy of Design in New York and the Cape Cod School of Art in Massachusetts. Then he traveled to Spain and studied with Harry Zimmerman, moved on to France and attended the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. In 1937, he moved to Boston to study sculpture with George Demetrius and also studied with Jon Corbino in beautiful Rockport, Massachusetts. In 1942, Draper joined the Navy and served as a combat artist when stationed on the Aleutian Islands and in the South Pacific. He observed and painted battle scenes on Bougainville, Guam, Saipan, and other locations, as well as genre scenes of soldiers who were not engaged in combat but rather at work and at play. National Geographic magazine reproduced 25 of his war images in four issues in 1944. In 1945, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. organized a group exhibition of works by five official war artists, including Draper. That same year the Metropolitan Museum of Art included Draper in an exhibition entitled, ''The War Against Japan.'' Draper was also featured in a PBS television show about combat artists entitled, "They Drew Fire" in May of 2000. After the war, Draper opened a studio on Park Avenue in New York City and continued to not only paint, but also play classical and jazz piano.
Provenance: The William F. Draper Collection, New York City, USA, acquired via descent from the late William Franklin Draper (1912-2003), an accomplished American artist whose career spanned seven decades. Known as the "Dean of American Portraiture," William Draper was the only artist to paint President John F. Kennedy from life, and his oeuvre includes marvelous landscapes from his world travels, military paintings as he was one of only seventeen Combat Artists in WWII, and portraits of illustrious individuals.
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Painting has not been examined outside the frame but appears to be in excellent condition. Signed "Wm. F. Draper / Sketch Class Century Ass." on lower right. Draper Estate stamp on verso.