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Paul Starrett Sample

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Paul Starrett Sample

(Louisville, KY, 1896 - 1974, Norwich, VT)

Paul Starrett Sample was born in Louisville, Kentucky in September 1896. His family moved frequently between states, and Sample himself was active in basketball, football, and boxing. Sample enrolled at Dartmouth and became a boxing champion, but after his graduation and a diagnosis of tuberculosis, his active lifestyle was impossible to continue. He dispelled his boredom through a newly acquired interest in painting. In his New York hospital, Sample met neo-impressionist painter Jonas Lie, who saw Sample's natural proficiency at drawing and encouraged him to try painting. Sample practiced during his four years of treatment in the hospital, and was greatly influenced by Lie's style and technique, as well as his aversion to modern art. After leaving the hospital in 1925, Sample enrolled in the Greenleaf Art School, and later in the Otis Art Institute of Monrovia, California. He attended classes and lectures given by Stanton MacDonald-Wright, a well-known abstractionist. Sample admired and respected this modern artist, but was never directly influenced by modernism thanks to the earlier influence of Jonas Lie. In time Sample landed a job at the University of Southern California, teaching architectural drawing, a position which he kept for the next decade. In 1928, on the brink of the depression, he married Silvia Howland. Sample's paintings during the depression reflected his reactions to the economic crisis and its effect on people, using a style known as "Social Realism." In 1931 he painted his first major Canvas, entitled 'Unemployment'. Three years later Time Magazine gave Sample the honor of naming him one of the most important living painters in America. During the summers, he traveled with his wife to her home state of Vermont, where his style shifted to include more rural scenes. This style of Regionalism, along with his Social Realism, are the styles most frequently associated with Paul Sample. At the conclusion of his employment with USC, Sample traveled in Europe and saw the works of the painting masters he greatly admired. On his return to America in 1938 he took a position as artist-in-residence at Dartmouth, and served on jury panels for the Corcoran Gallery and the Metropolitain Museum of Art. During WWII, Sample worked as artist-in-correspondant for Time Life, focusing mostly on watercolors. With an upswing in the popularity of abstract impressionism, Sample fell out of recognition in the mainstream art circle, and was followed only on the east coast, where he lived and worked at the time. He died suddenly on February 26, 1974.

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