Eugene Edward Speicher
(1883 - 1962)
Eugene Speicher, an internationally known portraitist, was born in Buffalo on April 5, 1883. He was a star athlete in 1901 with the Buffalo YMCA during the Pan-American Exposition, and also attended the Albright Art School, in which he obtained a scholarship to the Arts Students’ League in New York. He studied under Robert Henri at the League, and a few prominent fellow classmates include Edward Hopper, George Bellows, and Guy Pene du Bois. Shortly after his marriage in 1910, he traveled and studied abroad in galleries of Paris, London, Holland, Germany, and Italy. Later on, he would receive his Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1945.
The artist considered his work an expression of himself, almost like an autobiography. The view of the subject and its essence through his eyes, whether it be a portrait, landscape, or figure, was what he aimed to express, combined with the support of the fundamental principles of art. Speicher, mainly known for his portraits, had an incredible ability to capture the likeness of the individual. He tended to favor female subjects, and some of his sitters included Georgia O’Keeffe and Katherine Cornell.
The use of color to reveal form, beautiful textures, and subtle modeling are found throughout his work. These elements allow for certain sections to exist beautifully on their own, as well as part of a whole. Along with portraits, Speicher also painted many landscapes, harbors, farms, still lifes, nudes, and flowers. His work is built solidly on the past, in which he took methods from, and added his own flavor and personality. His inspirations included Velasquez, Gainsborough, Holbein, and Hals. The artist received various awards throughout his life, including from the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Academy of Design. He was also elected Honorary Member of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1949. A retrospective of his art and drawings from 1908-1949 was held at the Albright-Knox in 1950. Speicher passed away in 1962 at the age of 79.