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Recognized as one of America’s leading etchers and watercolorists during the early twentieth century, Sears Gallagher depicted a variety of subjects ranging from New England landscapes and European subjects to views of Monhegan Island, Maine.
Born in Boston in 1869, Gallagher has impressive family lineage extended back to the Pilgrim fathers and to the first Governor Bradford. He began his art education locally, studying drawing with the Italian artist, Tomasso Juglaris, and watercolor painting with the Samuel P.R. Triscott. He made his first submission to the annual exhibitions at the Boston Art Club in 1887, exhibiting a drawing entitled “Evening News.”
Gallagher later refined his skills at the Académie Julian in Paris, working under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens during 1895-96. During his three-years abroad (1894-96), he made summer visits to popular artists’ colonies such as Grèz-sur-Loing, where he painted and sketched en plein air. He also spent time in Italy and England.
Gallagher began his career in Boston, working as an artist-reporter for a local newspaper and illustrating textbooks for the publishing firm of Ginn and Company. However, by the early 1900s he had established himself as a professional artist specializing in etchings and watercolors. By 1920, he had produced 138 etchings of the historic streets and landmarks of Boston, such as Copley Square, the Old State House, and Trinity Church. He was also fond of marines, producing etchings as well as oil and watercolor views of Monhegan Island, Maine, where he spent his summers, as well as Plymouth and Nantucket on Cape Cod. His work includes landscapes painted during autumn trips to Jackson, New Hampshire, as well as views of New York, Venice and England’s Cornish seacoast.
Gallagher exhibited at the major national annuals in United States, and had several solo shows at Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston. His work also appeared at the Paris salons and at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Gallagher’s memberships included the Guild of Boston Artists, the Boston Society of Water Color Painters, the Brooklyn Society of Etchers and the Chicago Society of Etchers. He won several awards and prizes, among them the Logan Prize for etching at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1922 and the City of Boston Tercentenary medal (1930).
Gallagher also taught at Boston University. He spent his later years in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he continued to paint and etch until his retirement in the mid-1940s. He died in Boston in 1955.
Gallagher’s work is represented in important public collections throughout the United States and abroad, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; New York Public Library; Boston Public Library; the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
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