Published: May 5, 2016
HUNTINGTON, WEST VA. — The Huntington Museum of Art has acquired a rare painting depicting the Cincinnati studio of renowned Ohio and Western artist Joseph Henry Sharp (1859–1953). A founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, Sharp is remembered as the “spiritual father” of that organization.
Though born in Bridgeport, Ohio, Sharp’s family later relocated to Ironton, located across the Ohio River from Huntington. It was there that his parents settled permanently, and Sharp always considered Ironton his home. In 1881, Sharp traveled to Europe and after his return he traveled out to the far west of the United States, traveling what became the present states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Upon his return to Ohio in 1889, he settled in Cincinnati, where in 1890 along with a dozen other artists he co-founded the Cincinnati Art Club. He made a permanent move to Taos in 1912 and remained there until his death in 1953.
The painting in question depicts the interior of a richly decorated artist’s studio, with a seated woman, possibly a model, admiring a work on an easel. Surrounding her are curios, art objects, and several Western-themed trophies which decorate the room. The painting was signed by Sharp and dated 1897. The location of the interior was not noted, only identified by the ambiguous title “In the Studio.”
“As soon as we saw this painting coming up at auction, we suspected it might be the interior of the artist’s studio in Cincinnati,” said Geoffrey K. Fleming, executive director of the museum. During his time in Cincinnati (1889–1912), Sharp’s studio was at 30 West 4th Street, the interior of which he often illustrated in small drawings.
After a bit of research, Fleming and Christopher Hatten, the Senior Curator of the museum, identified images of Sharp’s Cincinnati studio that depicted an unusual lantern hanging in its interior. “The objects depicted, including the strange lantern, were the same as appeared in the painting coming up at auction,” stated Fleming. A period photograph of the studio from 1896 confirmed that the interior depicted was indeed Sharp’s Cincinnati studio.
“We were quite pleased to discover and acquire this regionally important work,” continued Fleming. Now that the painting is part of the museum’s permanent collection, it will be on view here in the museum’s Herman P. Dean Firearms Gallery.
The museum is at 2033 McCoy Road. For more information, www.hmoa.org or 304-529-270 or 304-529-2701.
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