Poetry in Design
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Poetry in Design
The Art of Harry Leith-Ross

Erika Jaeger-Smith

144 pages | 9 1/2 x 12 | 75 color, 25 b/w illus.
Paper 2006 | ISBN 978-0-8122-1979-1 | $34.95t | £23.00 | Add to cart

The early career endeavors of Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973) took him on a circuitous path. He studied engineering, worked for his uncle's coal-mining business, and pursued an advertising and commercial art career with a printing and engraving company. In 1909, he traveled to Paris to study painting, which would become his life's work.

After study in Europe, Leith-Ross moved to New York and began to exhibit his paintings at the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work from this period demonstrates bold broken brushwork and thick rich impasto. It was during this time that he met John Folinsbee, a noted painter of the Pennsylvania Impressionist school. Leith-Ross moved to Pennsylvania in 1935, where he quickly became an integral member of the New Hope arts community, settling with his wife in Solebury.

Throughout his career he encouraged his students not to fear painting from memory. He also cautioned them to focus their efforts on conveying a mood as well as distilling their ideas into a single concept before beginning to paint; as he said, a canvas must express "just one thing." His work shows a great emphasis on visual design, and he was critical of Impressionist paintings that relied on only light and shadow. Along with his vibrant, carefully composed oil paintings, he became renowned for his transparent watercolor technique in the tradition of eighteenth-century painters.

Poetry in Design gathers together Leith-Ross's work from major museums and private collections for the first time, in a richly illustrated volume that showcases an artist who was one of the most decorated and prolific Pennsylvania Impressionists.

Erika Jaeger-Smith is Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the James A. Michener Art Museum.

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