William de Leftwich
Dodge with detail
from "The Purchase",
one of six murals totaling 200 feet in length,
The murals were
located in the arch of the Tower of Jewels, just below the red coffered
William de Leftwich Dodge was born in 1867 in Liberty (renamed Bedford), Virginia, but spent most of his childhood and adolescence between Paris and Munich where his mother resided to pursue her art study. In 1895 he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme.
At age nineteen he was awarded the gold medal of the American Art Association for a history painting depicting the death of Minnehaha, the subject of Longfellow's popular poem, Hiawatha. This and other of his figurative work was painted from life and based on careful research to ensure its historical accuracy. In 1893, while still very young, he was commissioned to decorate the dome of the central building of the Colombian Exposition, the famous "White City" in Chicago.
He emerged as one of the most prominent muralists of the era, at a time when murals were regarded as an essential element of most public architecture, theaters, municipal buildings, and even some private homes. Dodge died in New York in 1935.
Emery Battis. Artist Biographies for the exhibition American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2000).
"Portrait of the Artist", an article about my grandfather and his commission to create the murals in the Northwest Pavilion of the Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building.
Atlantic and Pacific
Gateway of All Nations