Cecil de Blaquiere Howard

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Cecil de Blaquiere Howard
Cec Howard - Torse de boxeur 1930.JPG
Cecil de Blaquiere Howard - Torse de boxeur
Born2 April 1888
Died5 September 1956
New York
EducationArt Students' League Buffalo - James Earle Fraser - Académie Julian, Paris
Known forSculpture
MovementArt deco
Spouse(s)Céline Coupet
AwardsWidener Gold Medal
Herbert Adams Memorial Medal
National Academy of Design : E. N. Watrous Gold Medal
Patron(s)Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Henry Luce, Lila Tyng

Cecil de Blaquiere Howard, sometimes Cecil Howard, (April 2, 1888 - September 5, 1956), born in Clifton, Welland County, Ontario, Canada (today Niagara Falls) was an American painter and sculptor.[1][2]


Howard was the fourth child of British businessman George Henry Howard (1840-1896) and his wife Alice Augusta (née Farmer, 1850-1932). As the youngest son, Cecil was given his maternal grandmother's name "de Blaquiere" as his middle name. The family moved to Buffalo (New York) in 1890, and took American citizenship in 1896.[3]

Howard left school early to study with James Earle Fraser at the Art Students' League of Buffalo,[4] which had recently relocated into the basement of the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, still under construction.[5]

At the early age of sixteen,[6] he traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian with Raoul Verlet.[7] Soon he befriended Rembrandt Bugatti, whom he accompanied in 1909 on a journey to Antwerp, where together they made drawings and sculptures of animals in the Zoological Garden. Howard presented these early pieces at the Salon d'Automne in 1910, but later destroyed many of these plasters, as he regarded them as inferior in comparison to Bugatti's works.[7] After his return from Holland, the sculptor moved to a studio on the Avenue du Maine, in Montparnasse,[8] and regularly presented his works in Parisian salons and galleries. In 1913, Howard presented one of his earlier female nudes, simply entitled Woman, at the Armory Show in New York and Boston.[9] This was his first exhibition in the United States.

In the early days of World War I, Howard served in an Anglo-French hospital as a stretcher-bearer, and in 1915 he joined an English Red Cross unit heading for Serbia, ravaged by war and typhus.[10] At the end of his six months engagement, he was back in Paris, and went on to produce a series of polychrome cubist sculptures, mainly inspired by scenes in Parisian dance-halls. By October 1915, after ten years in France, Howard returned to the United States for the annual exhibition of American sculpture at the Gorham Galleries in New York.[11] Four months later, after a few sales, he was back in Paris.[12] In November 1916 he featured again in the annual exhibition at the Gorham Galleries, where he presented Decorative Figure, a sculpture of a tall African woman bearing a vase on her shoulder, and L'Après-midi d'un faune (Afternoon of a Faun), representing two dancers, inspired by Nijinsky's innovative ballet.[13] Both pieces were exhibited the following months at the National Academy in Manhattan and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts of Philadelphia.[14] In 1917, Howard befriended the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire and in June of that year he played the role of the People of Zanzibar, providing on-stage accordion music and sound-effects, in the première of Apollinaire's «surrealist drama» Les Mamelles de Tirésias.[15]

During the inter-war period, Cecil Howard shared his time between France, England and the United States, producing some of his most important and creative works. After World War I, he received a commission to create two war memorials in Normandy. Several of his pieces were acquired by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, while Henry Luce also commissioned works from him. Very well acquainted with most of the Parisian art world, Howard occasionally socialised with his French fellow sculptors Charles Despiau, Antoine Bourdelle, and particularly Aristide Maillol. In 1925 the Whitney Studio Galleries of New York presented the first American exhibition dedicated exclusively to Cecil Howard's works.[16] Taking part in several international traveling art shows, like the Tri-National Art Exhibit, he also participated in the Century of Progress fair in Chicago in 1933, and was awarded two Grand Prix in the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in 1937.

After the declaration of World War II, when German troops invaded France, Howard drove an American Red Cross truck carrying food and medicine to the hastily erected prison camps around Paris. Five months later, his situation as an American became increasingly strained with the occupying authorities and he decided to head back to the United States with his family. In late 1943, Cecil Howard exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, a male nude entitled American Youth or The Sacrifice, rewarded in 1944 by the George D. Widemer Memorial Gold Medal from the Academy.[17] The same year he became the sixteenth president of the National Sculpture Society, and was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services. From 1945 onward he worked for the United States Office of War Information, and three weeks after D-Day, he came ashore at Utah Beach, in Normandy.

In 1947 Howard became Vice President of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and participated in an exhibition co-organised by the Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The same year, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris bought a large sculpture of a reclining nude entitled Sun Bath, and in 1948 the French government awarded him the Legion of Honour. In 1953, for the 20th annual exhibition of the National Sculpture Society, he received the Herbert Adams Memorial Award Medal, and in 1954 the Architectural League of New York unanimously awarded him the highly coveted Golden Medal of sculpture. That same year, Cecil Howard featured in a long photo shoot by Andreas Feininger for Life magazine, and he also appeared in Uncommon Clay, Thomas Craven's documentary about six of America's leading sculptors at work in their studios.

The sculptor devoted his work to the presentation of the human body in various circumstances and styles, in sports[18] or at rest, experimenting with figurative, polychrome sculptures, cubism, traditional African art, art deco, classicism or neoclassicism. Using different techniques, including modeling and direct carving, he worked with a range of materials, including clay, stone, marble, wood, plasticine, terracotta, plaster, wax, bronze and silver.

Cecil Howard died in New York in 1956 and was posthumously awarded the E. N. Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy Museum and School in 1957.[19]


Bibliography and filmography[edit]

Books in English[edit]

  • Anonymous (1950). Cecil Howard : The american sculptors series. vol. 10. University of Georgia Press in collaboration with the National Sculpture Society. p. 50. (Biography based on interviews with the sculptor)
  • Barney, William (1979). "The Art and Artist of Buffalo : Adventures in western New York history, vol. 25" (PDF). Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. pp. 8–9.
  • Carbone, Teresa A. (2011). Youth and Beauty : Art of the American Twenties. Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-0-87273-167-7.
  • Conner, Janis; Rosenkranz, Joel; Finn, David (31 December 1998). Rediscoveries in American sculpture : studio works, 1893-1939. vol. 1. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0292704015.
  • Howard, Kathleen (1918). Confessions of an opera singer. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Proske, Beatrice Gilman (1968). Brookgreen Garden Sculptures. 1. Brookgreen Gardens.
  • Taft, Lorado (1921). Modern tendencies in sculpture. The University of Chicago Press for the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Thomas Craven, film, Uncommon Clay.[26]

Books in French[edit]

  • Apollinaire, Guillaume (1918). Les Mamelles de Tirésias : Drame surréaliste en deux actes et un prologue. Éditions SIC.
  • Campa, Laurence; Read, Peter (2009). Guillaume Apollinaire : Correspondance avec les artistes 1903-1918. Gallimard. ISBN 978-2-07-078404-2.
  • Collectif (2016). Apollinaire : Le regard du poète. 1. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 978-2-07-017915-2.
  • Levasseur, Olivier (2010). Cecil Howard, un Américain à Paimpol. Paimpol: Ville de Paimpol. ISBN 978-2-9535554-0-0.
  • Read, Peter (2000). Apollinaire et les Mamelles de Tirésias : La revanche d'Éros. Presses Universitaires Rennes. pp. 70–84. ISBN 2-86847-491-8.


  1. ^ Benezit Dictionary of Artists
  2. ^ Smithsonian
  3. ^ Date of arrival in Buffalo, and nationality acquisition : Cecil Howard's passeport, N° 5235, 1920.07.13, on the pay-per-use site ancestry.fr
  4. ^ Anonymous (1950). Cecil Howard : The american sculptors series. vol. 10. University of Georgia Press in collaboration with the National Sculpture Society. p. 50. (Biography based on interviews with the sculptor)
  5. ^ Barney, William (1979). "The Art and Artist of Buffalo : Adventures in western New York history, vol. 25" (PDF). Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. pp. 8–9.
  6. ^ Buffalo Morning Express. p. 5. 27 February 1905. Will Study in Paris — Cecil Howard of the Art Students' League leaves shortly for Paris, France, where he will enter the Julian School of Art and study both painting and modeling.
  7. ^ a b Conner, Janis; Rosenkranz, Joel; Finn, David (31 December 1998). Rediscoveries in American sculpture : studio works, 1893-1939. Vol. 1. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0292704015.
  8. ^ New York Herald Paris. March 16, 1914. p. number illegible. Mr. Cecil Howard, at Twenty-Six Has Produced Notable Sculptures — Mr. Cecil Howard[…] who shares a studio with Mr. Cecil Lawson, an English painter, at 14 avenue du Maine, has started his career as a sculptor with much success at an early age[…]
  9. ^ Armory show, list
  10. ^ Art & Progress: vol. 6. N° 8. p. number illegible. June 1915. Elizabeth Nourse. MORE PAGES FROM THE DIARY OF AN AMERICAN ARTIST IN PARIS — Another American, Cecil Howard, who is a young and very talented sculptor, after nursing night and day in the English hospital here, has gone to Servia [sic] where people are so poor and the wounded soldiers so numerous that they receive little care.
    And :
    New York Times. p. number illegible. May 9, 1915. SERBIA BATTLES WITH TYPHUS — Young American Sculptor, Working with the Red Cross, Writes of Conditions in the Fighting Zone
  11. ^ New York Times: p. number illegible. November 14, 1915. The Annual Sculpture Exhibition at the Gorham Galleries — Sculptures by Cecil Howard — […] A little figure in marble which he rather unwisely calls The Cigarette Girl is a compact and splendid young form, rounded and homogeneous, crouching in a pose that brings out its weight and simplicity of mass.
  12. ^ New York Times: p. number illegible. February 21, 1916. THE CHICAGO CHASED BY GERMAN RAIDER — French Liner Ordered to Stop by Strange Craft in Bay of Biscay, but Runs Away — […] among the passengers[…] Cecil Howard[…]
  13. ^ The Sun: P. 12. December 16, 1916. Interesting Sculpture Show in Gorham Galleries — […] Mr. Howard's Decorative Figure is also a Venus, but a black one[…] It is impossible not to smile in admiration of her[…] Somebody will surely buy her, she is so stylish and so funny[…]
    And :
    New York Times: p. number illegible. November 12, 1916. Recent American Sculpture on Exhibition — […] The superb "L'Après-Midi d'un Faune" by Cecil Howard is the most striking illustration we have had of a theme in art that has passed through at least three incarnations. The poses of the Russian dancers were studied with amazingly happy result from the decorative art of antiquity and the modern sculptor undoubtedly found his inspiration in the Russian dance. Thus antiquity and the living present are brought together in this remarkable sculpture which emphasizes the lusty gravity of the animal not yet man[…]
  14. ^ New York Evening Post: p. number illegible. December 23, 1916. THE NATIONAL ACADEMY — The sculpture exhibit is minor, but several pieces give enjoyment. Two such pieces, seen earlier in the season at the Gorham Gallery, are L'Après-Midi d'un Faune and Decorative Figure by Cecil Howard. These as much as any of the exhibits hint at aesthetic ideas to which the academic sculptor is generally averse[…]
    And :
    American Art News: p. 1-2. February 10, 1917. James B. Townsend. Annual PA. Academy Display — […] Mary Cassatt et Cecil Howard, both of Paris, are the only artists represented who give foreign addresses in this year's display, an evidence that the war's continuance has well dispersed the large band of American artists who formerly showed their work in Phila., every winter[…]
  15. ^ Read, Peter (2000). Apollinaire et les Mamelles de Tirésias : La revanche d'Éros. Presses Universitaires Rennes. pp. 70–84. ISBN 2-86847-491-8.
  16. ^ Whitney Studio Galleries Catalogue
  17. ^ National Sculpture Review, vol. 5, number 3, fall 1956, p.6.
  18. ^ Sports reference
  19. ^ National Academy
  20. ^ Whitney.org
  21. ^ Spencerart.ku.edu
  22. ^ albrightknox.org
  23. ^ americanart.si.edu
  24. ^ Metmuseum.org
  25. ^ Musée d'Orsay
  26. ^ Worldcat, Visuals

External links[edit]