A large, inventive oil on canvas by the well listed artist and illustrator Charles Shepard Chapman. A spirited look at the ongoing Industrial Revolution and progress minded upheaval of the 1920s with a focus on transportation. Pictured in the mist of streamlined modernist trains and bi-planes are antiquated horse and buggy carriages and river paddle boats. The artwork heralds the machine age and harnesses the art deco shapes, forms, and exuberance that was infectious in the epoch before the stock market crash of 1929.
Born in Morristown, New York, Charles Chapman was a noted teacher, painter, and illustrator who, although he often claimed he was self-taught, was educated at Pratt Institute, and in 1899 at William Merritt Chase’s Art School in New York City. He was highly influenced by the famed western artist Frederic Remington. One of his techniques he described was painting with “Water-Oils”, where he floated oil paint on water on paper, and then laid paper over the floating design, which left an abstract affect.
He became an instructor at the Art Students League in New York and was also a book illustrator. With Harvey Dunn, he opened a school of illustration in Leonia, New Jersey and shared a studio there with artist Howard McCormick. In 1901, he met Remington.
Chapman specialized in landscapes, and although he spent most of his life in the East, he traveled extensively in the West, especially Wyoming and Arizona where a frequent subject was the Grand Canyon. In 1938, he spent a month at the Canyon and also painted ranch landscapes and in the Snowy Range of Wyoming.
To prepare himself to do forest paintings, he worked in a lumber camp 90 miles north of Ottawa, Canada, and in 1923, made a trip to the Redwoods in California.
In the 1930s, he was commissioned by the Museum of Natural History in New York to paint a thirty-by-thirty-foot mural of the Grand Canyon as a background for the Puma group exhibit. He camped for several weeks at the rim of the Canyon while he worked on this project.
In 1941, he taught during the summer at the University of Wyoming, and later he and his wife rented a cabin at Jackson, Wyoming. He also painted murals for the American Museum of Natural History and a West Virginia Post Office.
His wife Ada, to whom he was married more than fifty years, wrote in 1964 a biography of his life. He was a member of the Salmagundi Club and won all its major prizes and was also a member of the National Academy of Design, winning exhibition prizes in 1917, 1921 and 1924. His painting, In The Deep Woods is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.