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Joseph Thurman Pearson, Jr.

(Huntington Valley, Pa / 1876 - 1951)

During his lifetime Joseph Thurman Pearson, Jr. was a renowned artist, winning prizes at all of the leading art institutions of the day. He was equally adept at landscapes, portraiture and in painting still life. Pearson was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1876, the son of Joseph T. Pearson, Sr. and one of eight children. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied with two icons of American Impressionism, William Merritt Chase and Julian Weir, the latter being a major influence on his life. In 1901, Pearson traveled to Germany, Italy and Spain. In Madrid, he was exposed to the painting of Diego Velasquez, and the dramatic effect of Valasquez's portraiture would have a lasting effect on his art.

Pearson returned to study with Weir in 1907 - 1908, and in 1909, he was made an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy; where, except for a brief absence in 1922 - 1923, he taught for twenty-five years. Like his contemporary associate, Daniel Garber, Pearson's strongest portraiture work is of his family. He executed early portraits of his wife and his mother, and accomplished later portraits of his daughters.

His landscape painting won recognition at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1911, and at the National Academy of Design in 1915 and 1918. In 1916 he won the Temple award for best painting in the exhibition and the Stotesbury Cash Award for the painting making the most contribution to the exhibit at the Academy Annual.

He followed this success with the painting that became recognized as his best work, a picture of The Twins, Virginia and Jane. This work was a critical success, winning the Beck medal for outstanding portraiture at the Academy Annual in 1917, and the Potter-Palmer Award of $ 1,000 at the Chicago Art Institute Annual of 1918. The painting now hangs in the permanent collection of the James A. Michener Museum of Art. Pearson was elected an Associate of the National Academy in 1917 and a full member in 1919.

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