Thomas Nygard Gallery - 19th and 20th Century American Art



William Robinson

(1866 - 1955)

William R. Leigh, born in 1866 in Berkeley County, West Virginia, began his formal study of art at the Maryland Institute, Baltimore, at the age of fourteen.  After three years at the Institute, he went to Munich, Germany, where he studied at the Royal Academy for twelve years, and took the annual medal six times in succession.  He also assisted in the painting of six cycloramas.  Commemorating the 6th anniversary of the one in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, he received an illuminated parchment citation in 1953.


In 1906, at the age of forty, after ten years in the United States as an illustrator for leading magazines, he headed for the Southwest for the study of Indians, cowboys and animals.  Under the inspiration of repeated trips to Arizona, New Mexico, as well as the Dakotas, Wyoming and other northern Rocky Mountain states, he produced many pictures owned by important collectors all over the United States and in foreign countries, including the Duke of Windsor and the late King Albert of the Belgians.


Mr. Leigh accompanied Carl Akeley to Africa in 1926 and the Carlisle-Clark expedition to Africa in 1928, each time as artist for the collection of material for the Akeley African hall in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  From 1932 to 1935 he had charge of the painting of the background in the African Hall at the time of its construction.  Some of his best known work is immortalized in this hall.


With other books and articles, Leigh is the author of THE WESTERN PONY, and FRONTIERS OF ENCHANTMENT.


Among his honors are:  1950-1951, Scroll Award, New York city Federation of Women's Clubs, 1951, Citation, Kappa Pi National Art Fraternity, 1953, Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal for outstanding achievement in fine arts, 1954, first recipient of the newly created Alumni Honor Medal of Maryland Institute, Baltimore, as most outstanding graduate,  1954, Conservation Award of the National Life Conservation Society, as distinguished wildlife artist, and 1955, elected Academician, National Academy of Design.


The Leigh studio and related ephemera is installed at the Thomas Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma where over 500 paintings and 300 drawings are held.  Other collections include: Woolaroc Museum in Oklahoma; Newark Museum;  Heckscher Foundation; Department of External Affairs, Iveagh House, Dublin, Ireland; Huntington Museum, New York; the IBM Collection, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming.

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