Artists in Ohio, 1787–1900 is intended to remedy an old deficiency and address a new need. The need has been created by an increase in academic and popular interest in the art and material culture of the enormous regions that once lay beyond the geographical boundaries of traditional American art research. These hitherto unexplored regions are today being rediscovered and reevaluated not only for their contributions to the cultural life of the nation as a whole, but also as rich fields of study in and of themselves. High among any list of candidates for reappraisal is the state of Ohio, which is old enough to have shared with New England many an itinerant limner, and young enough to have been ripe for the experimentalism that swept America in the late 1800s.
As William H. Gerdts has observed in his monumental and seminal three-volume magnum opus, Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting in America, 1710–1920:
Of all the states between the East and West
coasts, it was Ohio that developed the great-
est and most continuous artistic tradition.
Even though Chicago had become the ar-
tistic center of the American heartland
by the end of the nineteenth century and
in some ways rivaled the Eastern metro-
polises, Ohio's achievements had greater
longevity, and the work of Ohio artists had,
on the whole, a greater national impact.
No Chicago painter of the period made a na-
tional impression equal to those of Cincin-
nati's Frank Duveneck, John Twachtman,
or Kenyon Cox, nor did any Chicago paint-
er create an icon as powerful as The Spirit
of '76 by Cleveland's Archibald Willard.
Until now, the only published book-length survey of Ohio artists has been Edna Maria Clark's Ohio Art and Artists, printed nearly seventy years ago. The biographical section of Clark's book, compressed into sixty-seven pages, attempted to chronicle the lives and careers of some 850 artists. The entries were very brief, seldom exceeding sixty or seventy words, but were considered adequate in an era when the birthdates of living female subjects were routinely withheld from publication and when scholarly interest in Ohio artists was virtually nonexistent.
Still, as Dr. Gerdts points out, Clark's work is generally recognized as one of "the finest, most complete" historical/biographical studies published before the mid-1930s in America (1:12), but because it has stood unchallenged for so long, the information contained therein has been repeated over and over in later works—often verbatim—and thus our only extant single source of biographical data has been preserved and perpetuated intact, relatively untouched and unexamined for more than five decades, until work began in 1985 on Artists in Ohio, 1787–1900.
Good biographical surveys and dictionaries are useful to all art researchers: they summarize what is known about an artist, they indicate (or should indicate) what is yet to be