Biographical / Historical
Robert Reid (1862-1929) was a painter, muralist, craftsman, and teacher who worked primarily in New York City and Colorado.
Robert Reid was born in 1862 in Stockbridge Massachusetts and studied at the School of Painting and Drawing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1880-1884. He then moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students' League before moving to Paris in 1885, where he continued his studies at the Académie Julian over the next four years.
In 1887 Reid embarked on a tour of Italy that included visits to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. On his visits to Naples he was accompanied by several cousins, including Clara Field, who were on an extended European tour. Throughout the year Reid recorded his experiences and impressions in letters to his sister, Sara Bigelow Reid. In March of 1887 he submitted the first of three paintings to the Paris Salon, all of which were subsequently accepted.
In 1889 Reid returned to the United States and settled in New York City, teaching at the Cooper Union and the Art Students' League and painting portraits before embarking on various mural and decorative art projects. His first mural project was for one of the eight domes in the Liberal Arts Building of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892. In 1897 he painted allegories of the five senses for octagonal panels in the Library of Congress, and in 1899 executed a large allegorical mural for the New York Appellate Division Court House. The Boston State House includes three large panels, including "Paul Revere's Ride" and the "Boston Tea Party," painted by Reid between 1901 and 1904. His stained glass work included a 1906 series of ten windows for the Unitarian Memorial Church at Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
During the 1890s Reid's return to outdoor work and his easel paintings demonstrated a balance between decorative and Impressionist techniques, and were often of women in landscape settings holding or carrying flowers. In 1898 he exhibited as one of the Ten American Painters who seceded from the Society of American Artists in favor of a less traditional, more Impressionistic style.
In the 1920s Reid moved to Colorado Springs and taught at the Broadmoor Art Academy. Several years before his death, Reid taught himself to paint with his left hand after suffereing a stroke that resulted in paralysis of his right hand. He died in Clifton Springs, New York, in 1929.
H. Barbara Weinberg's 1975 essay "Robert Reid: Academic 'Impressionist'" (Archives of American Art Journal, Vol 15, No. 1, 1975) was used in the writing of this Biographical Note.