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SHELDON PARSONS (Am. 1866-1943)


The first director in 1918 of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe, Sheldon Parsons was a painter of local residents, plaza scenes, and landscapes. He applied Impressionist techniques to convey the New Mexico landscape, and his work became popular.

He was born in Rochester, New York, and studied at the National Academy of Design with William Merritt Chase, Edgar Ward and Will Low. He was married to noted photographer Caroline Reed Parsons, and from 1895 to 1912, was a much sought after New York portrait painter, whose subjects included prominent persons such as President McKinley and Susan B Anthony. He also won much recognition for his autumn scenes of the countryside of Westchester County.

In 1913, to start a new life after his wife's death and to find a better climate because of his tuberculosis, he gave up his successful career in New York to move to Santa Fe where he became one of the earliest resident artists. The more he painted in that environment, the looser his style became, and his impressionist landscape paintings were popular. They were exhibited at the Palace of the Governors and the new Museum of New Mexico, where a number of his paintings are in the collection.

Source: American Art Review, August 2004

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