Oil on canvas, 21.5 x 35.5 inches/Signed lower left
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Born at family farm at Shearertown (Tuckerton), near Reading, Pennsylvania, Shearer spent youthful hours in the studios of noted Reading artists, F. D. Devlan and John Heyl Raser. Watching the artists paint, he believed that he would like to be become an artist and at 18 took instruction from both men. His father, a successful building contractor who supported his son’s career path, built Shearer his first studio at the family farm. Three years later, circa 1867, Shearer opened his own studio in Reading, becoming a well-known and successful artist. He later left for Europe where he pursued art study the academies at Dusseldorf and Munich, Germany. A second four-year long trip to Germany and France in 1878 resulted in the almost total loss of his eyesight, prompting in his return to Reading—a promising career in ruins. Blindness was not to be his fate, however--his eyesight gradually improved and he resumed painting. Shearer lived in a home along the Schuylkill River, off Stoudt’s Ferry Bridge Road (close to Shearertown) where he also had a studio and taught plein air painting. Shearer’s protégé was Mary B. Leisz, who had become his student circa 1891 when she was 15. She would go on to teach art classes with him at his studio. He was a strong advocate of the arts and as a friend of Dr. Levi Mengel, the founder of the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery and, in 1913, convinced him to include an art gallery within the museum. Shearer served as the chief art curator from 1913 to his death in 1926. Shearer was also a naturalist—he collected butterflies, moths and other insects in all stages of development, which he illustrated. He spent time painting at the Pinnacle in the Blue Mountains where he made the first detailed studies of the Blue Mountain cave rat in 1916. Interestingly, the Assistant Director of the Museum, artist Earle Poole, discovered in 1931 that the eerie night sounds heard on the Pinnacle were made by the Blue Mountain cave rat, first documented by Shearer years before. Shearer was a member of the Brooklyn Art association, where exhibited. He also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1876-1895) and The Dusseldorf Art Academy (gold medal, 1878).