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Thomas Le Clear


Thomas Le Clear was a portrait and genre painter born on March 11, 1818 in Owego, New York. From an early age, he showed an interest in painting, creating an impressive painting of Saint Matthew at the age of twelve. In 1832, Le Clear moved with his family to London, Ontario, Canada. In subsequent years he began to establish himself as a portrait artist and decorative painter throughout upstate New York and as far west as Green Bay, Wisconsin.

In 1839, Le Clear moved to New York penniless, and opened a studio on Broadway. He studied under one of the city’s leading artists, Henry Inman By the mid-1840s he began to receive significant recognition for his work. He exhibited with the National Academy of Design beginning in 1845 and several of his paintings were acquired by the American Art Union.

Le Clear moved to Buffalo in 1847 and became a substantial member of the local art community. He was a founding member of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. During his time in Buffalo, he painted portraits of various prominent figures, including former president Millard Fillmore and actor Edwin Booth as Hamlet. Many of his genre paintings also received wide acclaim, including Buffalo News BoyThe Hayes ChildrenThe Itinerants, and Interior with Portraits.

Le Clear returned to New York in the early 1860s, where he reestablished himself as an accomplished painter. In 1863 he was elected to full membership to the National Academy of Design. He died in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1882.