Paul Starrett Sample
(1869-1974)

Paul Sample, Maple Sugar

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Biography

I am eventually going to be a painter and a damned good one...
excerpt from Paul Sample’s diary 1926

Throughout much of his artistic career Paul Starrett Sample enjoyed success and recognition of his work from both his peers and the public. Born in 1896 in Louisville, Kentucky, Paul Sample and his family moved frequently across the country. These early childhood experiences offered him a view of the diversity of American life. Throughout his career Sample’s art embraced both Social Realism and American Regionalist painting styles. His landscape, figure, and genre paintings depict both urban and rural subject matter particularly of New England, reflecting the Eastern Regionalist art movement's affirmation of American life.

Sample did not develop his talent as a painter until his early twenties. As a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, he distinguished himself as an intercollegiate boxing champion and an avid saxophonist. He was not considered a particularly scholarly student. Sample took a year off from college to serve in the Naval Reserve during World War I and graduated from Dartmouth in 1921 with a degree in Architecture. Later that same year, while visiting his sick brother Donald at a tuberculosis sanitarium at Saranac Lake, New York, Sample contracted the disease. He remained in the Adirondacks for four years. 

While at Saranac, Sample began to recognize his potential as an artist while studying drawing and painting with the Norwegian-American impressionist painter, Jonas Lie, whose wife was being treated at the same facility. In 1923 Sample met Sylvia Howland, another patient who was recuperating at Saranac Lake. Their friendship eventually led to marriage in 1928. Upon release from Saranac Lake in January of 1925 he used funds from the Veterans' Bureau to enroll in a commercial art course at the Greenleaf Art School in New York City. Owing to his brother's deteriorating health, Sample decided to move to California to join his family and be with his brother until his death in June. By July he had enrolled at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he resumed his studies with Jonas Lie in addition to private lessons with Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Frank Tolles Chamberlin. With his move from the Adirondacks to Los Angeles, Sample’s work underwent a radical shift in theme and sentiment. Increasingly, he turned from the landscape scenes he produced at Saranac Lake to depictions of the growing social and economic struggles of Americans during the depression. Sample's works, Unemployment (1931) and  Disagreement (1931) show an adherence to the main principles of Social Realism, though his paintings show some optimism in contrast to the hard realities depicted by other social realists.

In September of 1926, Sample joined the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, where he remained until 1938. At the same time he began exhibiting his work in galleries throughout the United States. In 1938 Sample returned to New England and became artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College, a newly created position at the college, which he held until 1962. In addition to teaching at Dartmouth and continuing to produce personal works, Sample also took leaves of absence from academia to work as an artist-correspondent for various magazines beginning in World War II with an assignment aboard the U.S.S. Portland.

His depictions of the life of rural New Englanders and the importance of the relationship between the people and the land became a lens through which the culture of American agriculture could be seen, and illustrated his amalgamation of Social Realism and Regionalism. Some scholars suggest that Sample's employment of large-scale and rounded forms is clearly derivative of the Flemish Painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Sample made use of lateral framing, plunging perspective, and rhythmic groupings. His compositional style also reflects the influence of regionalist artists including Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood.

Throughout the 1930s, his style was characterized by triangular arrangements of elements in the foreground, strong vertical accents in the middle ground, and distant landscape in the center background with a high horizon line. The triangular organization of Sample's 1933 painting, Church Supper shows a conservative adherence to the academic style instilled in him by Lie. However, his use of color, and his overall unique compositions developed in the 1940s and 1950s show his commitment to the regions and the people he chose to paint. His career as a muralist began in Hanover in 1957 and brought him many corporate, state, and federal commissions through the 1960s. One of Sample’s last commissions was for the Environmental Protection Agency – a painting entitled “Montana Horses in High Country” which he completed in 1973. On February 26, 1974 Sample suffered a heart attack and died shortly afterwards at his home in Norwich, Vermont. He had been working in his studio earlier that day.

Written and compiled by Hali Thurber

 Paul Sample, Busy Harbor
 Paul Sample, Clown Reading
 Paul Sample, New England Barn
 Paul Sample, The Wood Decoy

1896 Paul Sample born in Louisville, Kentucky on the 14th of September
1916 Enrolls at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
1917 Enlists in the Naval Reserve when United States enters World War I
1921 Graduates from Dartmouth
         Contracts tuberculosis visiting brother in sanatorium at Saranac Lake, New York
1923 Studies drawing and painting from artist Jonas Lie
1925 Cured of tuberculosis
         Goes to Art School in New York City with funds from Veteran’s Bureau
         Attends dying brother in California
         Stays in California and enrolls in Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles
1926 Joins faculty of the School of Architecture at USC
1932 Stendhal Galleries in Los Angeles accepts Sample's work for exhibition
1934 Receives first of many commissions from Fortune Magazine
         Time Magazine ranks Sample as one of American’s most important living painters
1935 Chief of the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture commission
1936 Awarded Honorary Masters of Art degree from Dartmouth College
         Granted sabbatical from USC, travels to Europe
1937 Metropolitan Museum of Art purchases Janitor’s Holiday
1938-62 Appointed artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College
1941 Elected academician by the National Academy of Design
1942 Work featured in Esquire, Country Gentlemen, and American Artist
1944 Accepts assignment as artist-correspondent for Life magazine on U.S.S. Portland
1952 Begins assignments for Ford Times, published by the Ford Motor Company
1956 Joins the Milch Galleries in New York City
1957 Begins mural for the Hanover Inn in Hanover, New Hampshire
1959-61 Commissioned to paint mural for National Life Insurance Company Montpelier,          VT; suffers heart attack, which delays completion until 1961
1962 Honorary Doctorate of Humane letters, Dartmouth College
1964-65 Paints Saturn rocket launch for NASA
         Mural commission from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
1973 Completes commission from EPA
1974 Dies of a heart attack on February 26th

1926 Special Award of Honor, Exhibition at Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah:          Moored Fishing Boats
1929 First Prize, Santa Monica Art Association Exhibition: Boats
1930 The Keith-Spaulding Prize, California Art Club
         First Prize, Exhibition at Los Angeles Museum of Art                     
         Honorable Mention for Landscape, 43rd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and          Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago
1931 Second Hallgarten Prize, 106th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design,
         New York: Dairy Rounds
1932 Isador Gold Medal, 107th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, N.Y.          Unemployment First Prize Marine Painting, Pasadena Art institute
1934 First Prize, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, First Art Association: Unemployment
1936 Temple Gold Medal, 13th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine
         Arts, Philadelphia: Miners Resting
         Honorable Mention, The International Exhibition of Paintings, Carnegie Institute,          Pittsburgh: Barber Shop
1940 Prize for Excellence, Contemporary Art of the United States, IBM Corporation          exhibition, New World's Fair: Going to Town
1941 Elected academician by the National Academy of Design.
         Prize for Excellence in Watercolor, The Lotus Club, New York
1942 Worcester Art Museum: Barber Shop
1947 Special Award, 122nd Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, N.Y. Field          Hospital in a Church Purchase Prize, Pepsi-Cola Competition: Sharon's Sleigh Ride
1960 Henry Ward Ranger Fund Purchase Prize, 135th Annual Exhibition, National          Academy of Design, New York: Recuerdos de un Viejo II
1962 First Benjamin Altman Prize for Landscape Painting in Oil, 137th Annual Exhibition,          National Academy of Design, New York: Port-au-Prince Marketplace
1963 Century Association Medal: Jacob's Journey into Egypt
1967 Henry Ward Ranger Fund Purchase Prize, 142nd Annual Exhibition, National          Academy of Design, New York: Still Life with Whistler
1969 Century Association Gold Medal: Northeast Kingdom

Sample signature Noon
Sample signature Barn
Sample signature Decoy
Sample signature Labrador

1927 Pasadena Art Institute
1934 Feragil Galleries, New York
1935 Carpenter Art Galleries, Dartmouth College
1937 Feragil Galleries, New York
         Courvoisier Galleries, San Francisco
1941 Carpenter Art Galleries, Dartmouth College
         Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington Vose Galleries,          Boston  Feragil galleries, New York
1942 The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1946 Vose Galleries, Boston
1948 The Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
1949 Archives of American Art Gallery (AAA), New York
1951 J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
         Vose Galleries, Boston
1956 Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington
         The Bronson Museum, Attleboro, Massachusetts
1958 Milch Galleries, New York
1960 Southern Vermont Art Center, Manchester
1963 Retrospective Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College
         Milch Galleries, New York
1964 Nasson College
1967 New Hampshire Art Association, Concord
1968 Southern Vermont Art Center, Manchester
1970 Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center
         Van der Straeten gallery, New York
1972 – 1973 Capricorn Galleries, Bethesda, Maryland
1984 Paul Sample: Ivy League Regionalist, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami
1988 Retrospective Hood Museum Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
1997 Gerold Wunderlich & Co. in association with The Caldwell Gallery, New York

1926 Three-man faculty exhibition at University of Southern California
1930 12th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Paintings, Corcoran Gallery of          Art,Washington, D.C.
         Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo)
         105th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         Art Institute of Chicago
1931 126th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         Art Institute of Chicago
1932 Stendahl Galleries, Los Angeles
         Macbeth Gallery, New York
         45th Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago
         127th Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Pennsylvania Academy of the          Fine Arts, Philadelphia
1933 13th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Paintings, Corcoran Gallery of          Art, Washington, D.C.
         128th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         American Painting of Today, Worcester Art Museum
1934 129th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         Carnegie Foundation World Tour
         A Century of Progress Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago
1935 14th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of
         Art, Washington, D.C.
         110th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         14th International Watercolor Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago
1936 Second Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, Watercolors, and          Prints, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
         47th Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago
         15th International Watercolor Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1937 112th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         132nd Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         1937 International Exhibition of Paintings, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1938 First Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings, Virginia Museum of          Fine Art, Richmond
1938 International Exhibition of Paintings, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
         133rd Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Pennsylvania Academy of the         Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         113th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1939 American Art Today, New York City World's Fair
         Golden Gate International Exposition, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
1939 International Exhibition of Paintings, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
         Philadelphia Watercolor Show, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         10th Biennial International Watercolor Exhibition, Brooklyn Museum
1940 13th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania
         Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         19th International Watercolor Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago
         Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum
         of  American Art
         Second Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings, Virginia Museum
         of Fine Art, Richmond
         115th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         Mural Designs for Federal Buildings, National Gallery of Canada
         Golden Gate International Exposition, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
1941 136th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia  
         17th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting, Corcoran Gallery of          Art, Washington, D.C.
         Contemporary Painting in the United States, Metropolitan Museum of Art
         Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, Watercolors, Drawings, and          Prints, Whitney Museum of American Art
         America Yesterday and Today, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey
         35th Annual Exhibition of American Painting, Saint Louis Art Museum
         15th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1942 117th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1943 Painting in the United States, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1944 139th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
1945 Painting in the United States, 1945, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1946 Painting in the United States, 1946, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1947 142nd Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         Painting in the United States, 1947, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1948 Painting in the United States, 1948, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1949 144th Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine          Arts, Philadelphia
         Painting in the United States, 1949, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
         1950 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Painting, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
         American Painting Today, Metropolitan Museum of Art
         125th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1951 American Watercolor Society Exhibition, National Academy of Design, NY
         22nd Biennial Exhibition, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C
1952 127th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1954 129th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1956 131st Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York1959 134th Annual          Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         Century Association, New York
1960 135th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
         155th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
         2nd Biennial Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture, Detroit Institute of Arts
1963 138th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1964 139th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York
1965 The Centennial of the American Watercolor Society, Metropolitan Museum of Art,                  New York
1969 American Paintings of Ports and Harbors, 1774-1968, Cummer Gallery of Art and                  Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences
         American Watercolor Society Exhibition, National Academy of Design, NY
1971 141st Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York

Maxwell House, Maple Sugaring
Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock
Maxwell House, Coffee Time
Maxwell House, Home Town

California Art Club: President (1931)
California Watercolor Society
American Watercolor Society
National Academy (1940)
New Hampshire Art Association
Pasadena Art Association

1936 Honorary Master of Arts Degree, conferred by Dartmouth College
1937 Elected to associate membership in The National Academy of Design
1939 Juror for National Midyear Show of The Butler Institute of American Art
1940 Served on jury of awards for Second Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American          Paintings at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
         Selection jury for 1940 New Year Show at The Butler Institute of American Art
1941 Elected to full membership in the National Academy of Design
         Served on the jury of the 136th Annual Exhibition of The Pennsylvania Academy of          the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
1942 Served on the jury for Artists for Victory exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art
1943 Jury member for 118th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, N.Y.
1946 Jury member at New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT
1947 Jury for Painting in the United States, 1947, The Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
1949 Jury Chairman 21st Biennial Exhibition of American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of          Art, Washington, D.C. Selection jury for American Painting Today at Metropolitan          Museum of Art, N.Y.
1952 Jury member for National Academy of Design's 127th Annual Exhibition
1954 Jury member at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts
1962 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, conferred by Dartmouth College

Paul Sample, Skiing in New England
Paul Sample, The Return
Paul Sample, Coffee Time
Paul Sample, Remembrance Rock
Paul Sample, Maple Suaring

Paul Sample, Early Spring Sunning
 Paul Sample, Labrador Family
Paul Sample, Cutting Ice
Paul Sample, Winter Visitor
Paul Sample, New England Winter

 Paul Sample, Labrador Family
 Paul Sample, Occom Pond
 Paul Sample, Labrador Family
Paul Sample, Country Fair
Paul Sample, Speech Near Brewery

The Arkell Museum
Sand Lot Ball Game

Addison Gallery of American Art
Grey Day: White River Junction
Lamentations V:18

Art Institute of Chicago
Railroad Train in Industrial Town Along River
Winding River Near a Town

Brooklyn Museum of Art
Deserted House

Currier Gallery of Art
Sharon’s Sleigh Ride Party

Hood Museum of Art
Beaver Meadow
Dartmouth Row
Disagreement

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Janitor’s Holiday

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Abandoned
My Bride
Still Life with Whistler

Springfield Museum of Art, Utah
Winter Holiday

D’Amour Museum of Fine Art
Church Supper

AskArt: The Artists' Blue Book. Paul Starrett Sample.
http://www.askart.com

Peter Hastings Falk. Who Was Who in American Art 1898-1974.

Paula F Glick. Paul Sample. Gerold Wunderlich & Co. in association with The Caldwell Gallery, 1997.

Churchill P Lathrop. The Story of Art at Dartmouth. College Art Journal. 10:4 (1951:Summer), p.395.

Robert McGrath. Paul Sample: Painter of the American Scene. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 1988.

Paul Sample: Ivy League Regionalist. The Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, 1984.

Paul Sample Retrospective Exhibition. The Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH. 1948.

“11 Named by Academy”, New York Times, April 25, 1941.

A Sample of Talent, USAir Inflight Magazine, pages 12-17. May 1989.