George Frederick Bensell

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George Frederick Bensell
Born George Frederick Bensell
(1837-01-10)January 10, 1837
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died May 26, 1879(1879-05-26) (aged 42)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Education Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Known for Illustration
Movement Philadelphia Sketch Club

George Frederick Bensell (January 10, 1837 – May 26, 1879) was an American artist and illustrator, usually known as George Bensell, G. F. Bensell or George F. Bensell. He is best known for his paintings and role in forming the Philadelphia Sketch Club.

Life and family[edit]

Bensell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Edmund Shippen Bensell and Margaret (Sperry) Bensell. His younger brother was artist Edmund Birckhead Bensell. As an adult he lived in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Bensell married, June 7, 1871, Josephine Crissman, of Milford, Pennsylvania. They had three children, Paul, Sperry, and Grace Bensell, all of whom died young. He died at the age of forty-two in Philadelphia. After the deaths of her children and husband Josephine returned to Milford, where after two decades of widowhood she married J. C. Westbrook in 1900. She died after a brief illness in October, 1907.


Bensell initially studied with the artist John L. Lambdin; he and his brother Edmund also both attended and graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Afterwards he was named an Academician and was an instructor there.

As an artist Bensell was primarily a painter, specializing in portraits, landscapes, historical and "poetical genre" subjects for a wealthy clientelle. His secondary occupation was that of illustrator in the magazines and books of his day, in which he often collaborated with his brother.

In 1860, while still students, the two brothers joined with four other students to form the Philadelphia Sketch Club, one of America's oldest existing artists' clubs. It first met in Bensell's Philadelphia studio. A lifelong member, he served as its first president. and held the office on two later occasions as well. The brothers' enthusiastic abolitionist feelings influenced its early political sentiments, and many of their early sketches were published in its popular publication, the Sketch Club Portfolio.

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