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William Sergeant Kendall


Kendall was born in Spuyten Duyvil, New York, part of the Bronx. Kendall enrolled at the Brooklyn Art Guild when he was fourteen. He began studying at the Art Students’ League in New York at age seventeen, and at nineteen, went to Paris and was accepted into École des Beaux-Arts. Two years later he had a painting accepted at the Salon and was awarded an honorable mention.

In 1892, Kendall returned to the U.S. He took a studio in New York City and taught a women’s painting class at Cooper Union until 1895. Kendall specialized in painting children but relied on portraits for part of his income. His sitters included Helen Huntington (later Mrs. Vincent Astor) and President William Howard Taft.

His painting Alison was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1910; it won the Potter Palmer gold medal and was bought by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy/Albright Art Gallery. Over the years, Kendall won several other prizes including a medal at the Carnegie Institute in 1900, a medal at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, the Shaw Prize of the Society of American Artists in 1901, and the Shaw Fund Purchase Prize in 1903. In 1901, Kendall was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, and in 1905 an academician of the academy.

In 1910 the Kendalls moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where they bought Marin Cottage to have a more isolated home and studio. In 1913, Kendall began teaching at Yale University, becoming head of the department of fine arts. He resigned in 1922 and moved to an isolated, mountainous area near Hot Springs, Virginia. He continued to exhibit, turning to classical subjects, usually adult nudes, and remained an active painter until his death.

Kendall was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1920 to 1921. His papers from 1900 to 1936 are housed at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Although mainly a painter, Kendall also modeled and carved sculptures throughout his career. His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

His home at Hot Springs, Garth Newel, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. It is home to the Garth Newel Music Center.

Portrait(s) by William Sergeant Kendall

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