William Franklin Draper (American, 1912-2003), "Sailors at Central Park Mall, New York City" oil on canvas board, 1940. Signed and dated at lower right. A jubilant scene of American World War II sailors socializing with their friends and loved ones at Central Park by American artist William Draper. The scene is bustling with couples promenading, folks relaxing on a park bench, the famous gaslit lamps, as well as one of Central Park's 36 ornamental arches/bridges, most of which were built in the 1860s - all delineated in Draper's early urban realist style, bringing to mind parallels with Reginald Marsh's (French-American, 1898-1954) crowded urban scenes. This painting of sailors enjoying themselves prior to shipping out is so interesting, because Draper himself joined the Navy two years later, and served as a combat artist. So this painting pre-dated Draper's time in the Navy, foreshadowing days to come. As a combat artist, Draper would observe and paint battle scenes in Bougainville, Guam, Saipan, and other locations. A wonderful composition, set in a custom frame with a brass plaque engraved with the artist's name. Size: 26.75" W x 22.625" H (67.9 cm x 57.5 cm); 32.75" W x 28.75" H (83.2 cm x 73 cm) framed
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. 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 is in excellent condition save a few minor scratches that are difficult to discern. Signed on verso which is covered with board. Draper estate stamp on verso.