Oil on canvas, 17.5 x 29.75 inches / Signed lower right
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Spread was born in Kinsale, Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1870. He studied painting with William Riviere, Henry Warren and Ernest Slingeneyer. In 1864 he moved to Melbourne, Australia where he concentrated on portraiture. Once in the United States, Spread first settled in New York City, but shortly moved west to Chicago, Illinois shortly before the “Great Chicago Fire” of 1871. There were a number of artists residing in Chicago at the time, including Mary Cassatt, all of whom lost much of their art works during the conflagration. Most of the artists left Chicago; however, Spread persevered and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later founded Spread’s Art Academy. In 1902, his academy became the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Spread was named the first president of the Chicago Society of Artists in 1889. Known primarily as a portraitist, Spread also painted landscape and genre scenes. Although a skilled artist, he did not exhibit widely; his primary legacy being fostering a love of art in Chicago. Fellow artist (and former student of Spread), Ralph Clarkson, the noted Chicago society portrait painter, stated that Spread’s “fine and advice formed the careers of the men who were not only to achieve prominence as artists, but to occupy leading places as art teachers”.