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David Walling Humphrey [1872-1950]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

HUMPHREY, David Walling (1872–1950)

“Faun Serenading Nymph”

color monoprint / 9 inches by 6 7/8 inches

1909

David Walling Humphrey was born in February 28, 1872 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, the fourth child of Benjamin Blodgett and Mary Jane Walling Humphrey. His mother died just 41 days after he was born. Humphrey was educated in Elkhorn public schools in the southeast Wisconsin community.  On November 18,1889 a Warranty Deed (Vol. 102, p 49) was recorded for $1,000 from David to his sister Hattie on a piece of jointly-owned property inherited from their father Benjamin Humphrey. He could then afford to study at the Art Institute of Chicago which was called the ‘Art Mecca of the Middle West’ at that time. As an honor student in Chicago and a serious student of contemporary art, he worked hard to establish himself in the art community. David chose for his subjects, figures, genre (human activities) and nude figures and mythology.

He concentrated on monotypes, a technique that creates a unique original print with each impression. This is a slow, labor-intensive process that produces perfection rather than quantity. Frequently, he went to the countryside and did sketches with pastels, then returned to his studio to create the monotype metal plate. Monotypes were a spontaneous approach developed soon after the etching revival of the late 1870s. Although monotypes are classed with graphic arts, Humphrey’s work was superior in quality and was referred to more often as a painting.

David Humphrey continued to study at the Academie Julian and with J.A.M. Whistler for two years in Paris.


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