Oil on canvas, 22.5 x 25 inches / Signed and dated lower left
William Beard was self-taught, although he studied with his brother, the artist James Henry Beard, in New York City, before embarking on a not too successful career as an itinerant portrait painter. He moved to Buffalo where he became one of the major artists of Buffalo’s first “golden age”. In the mid-1850s Beard traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany where he met and studied with his American peers. In the late 1860s Beard traveled to the American West, but was unimpressed with the western landscape that other artists had found inspiring. Beard then became renowned for his paintings depicting animals engaged in human activity. After Charles Darwin published his controversial “Origin of Species”, Beard composed a monkey painting satirizing the theory of evolution. Allegedly, Beard believed that animals had souls and could express human emotions; but was opposed to the Theory of Evolution. Beard exhibited widely and his works can be seen at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, Wadsworth Atheneum, Amon-Carter Museum, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago and the Rhode Island School of Design.