R. H. Ives Gammell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Robert Hale Ives Gammell (1893–1981), American muralist, portrait painter, art teacher, and writer on art, was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1893. In 1911, he enrolled in the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It was there that he made contact with painters who had been trained in Europe, particularly with William Paxton, who had himself been a student of Jean-Léon Gérôme's at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Among his other teachers were Edmund Tarbell, Joseph DeCamp, Philip Hale. Later, he studied at the Académie Julian and the Atelier Baschet in Paris.


After serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, he returned to Boston and began his painting career in earnest in 1920, executing commissions for decorations and portraits and pursuing his passion for travel in Europe and North Africa. Upon returning to the United States after his last trip to Europe in 1930, he began painting large canvasses on mythological and Biblical themes. However, he soon realized that he was completely out of step with the times and under the stress of this oppressive realization as well as the stress of the impending war in Europe, he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1939. He made a slow recovery, and was aided in this process by the writings of Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung.

During the war years, he began work on his book, Twilight of Painting, and also started making plans for what would become his magnum opus, a series of paintings based on Francis Thompson's poem "The Hound of Heaven." This work was completed in 1956 and is known under the title, A Pictorial Sequence by R. H. Ives Gammell Based on The Hound of Heaven. In 1950, he founded the Gammell Studios to ensure that the traditions of painting as he knew them would be preserved and perpetuated. For the next two and a half decades, he continued to devote his life to teaching and painting. He died in 1981.

Gammell was one of the last American artists to receive a classical training in art. He has a place in the history of American Realism. As a writer and teacher he embodied the values and teachings of the previous centuries as he had received them and passed them on to his students. Many of his students became fine painters, as well as teachers, who have continued his work of passing on the tradition to future generations.


Besides Twilight of Painting, he is author of The Shoptalk of Edgar Degas, Dennis Miller Bunker, and The Boston Painters 1900-1930. He was a past president of the Guild of Boston Artists and a member of the National Society of Mural Painters.

Books and articles about R. H. Ives Gammell[edit]

Ackerman, Gerald M. and Elizabeth Ives Hunter. Transcending Vision: R. H. Ives Gammell 1893-1981. Portland, Oregon: Powells Books, 2001.

Ackerman, Gerald M. and Peter Bougie. "The Gammell-Ackerman letters: A Correspondence of 1967-1969." Classical Realism Journal, Vol. I, No. 1, pp. 18–33.

External links[edit]

Miscellaneous writings by R. H. Ives Gammell[edit]

Articles about R. H. Ives Gammell[edit]