Jules Maurice Gaspard

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Jules Maurice Gaspard (French-born American, 1862-1919) portrait painter, illustrator, printer, engraver, Roycroft artisan, teacher, art critic and writer known for his fine portrait work in pen & ink, engravings, etchings, pastels, conté crayon and photogravures, as well as paintings and illustrations. Jules Maurice Gaspard was born in July, 1862 in Mandres-sur-Vair, in Northeastern France to farmer and stone-cutter, Jules Emile Gaspard (1832-1895) and Catherine Aprone (née Henriot) Gaspard (1840-1918) and had a younger sister, Eugenie Marie Gaspard-Axtman (1866-1953). When Jules was six years old, the family immigrated to the United States on the S.S. Bellona arriving in New York on March 20, 1868. The family quickly settled in Davenport, IA, where some of his father's other immediate family and their families already resided. Jules attended the local schools there and by the age of seventeen, he learned the printing trade in the job printing office of the Democrat and Leader newspaper and was also a close associate of William L. Purcell of the Purcell Printing Company in Davenport. In 1879, Jules was registered for military duty during the Indian Wars but never served. He traveled to New York City that same year and studied at the Art Students’ League as well as the Gotham Art Students’ Society, while also working as a typesetter.

Circa the early 1880's, he had moved back to Davenport where he worked as a printer and soon opened his own artist studio over the rear of the local Post Office located at 209 East Third Street doing illustrative work and advertising designs as well as portraits from life, photography and also photoengraving. He worked as an artist through the mid-late 1880’s before he moved to Chicago, IL and worked as a printer with editor Edward M. Keating of the “Machine Composition” department for The Inland Printer from 1887-89. Afterwhich, Jules moved to Omaha, NE where he worked briefly as an artist and resided at 1017 N. 26th Street before moving back to Davenport, IA where he worked and was listed as an artist from 1890-1891 while residing at the family home at 1510 Ripley Street. Jules left Davenport in 1891 and moved back to Chicago where by May of that year he worked in the art department for the Rand, McNally & Co. publishing house and had also been employed as an illustrator for The Chicago Times. On January 28, 1892 Jules married Ermina "Minnie" C. (née Bowlin) Gaspard (1867-1969) in Roseville, Warren County, IL, and they later resided at 5600 Monroe Avenue in Chicago in the mid to late 1890's and then at 6501 Kimbark Avenue in the early 1900's. From about 1892 to mid 1907, he worked as an illustrator, art critic, manager and then director of the art department of the Inter Ocean. He contributed numerous pen & ink portraits and sketches for the publication, as well as others during that time. He also furthered his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and even did a stint as manager of the art department for the Western Union Telegraph Company. From circa 1904-circa mid 1907, Jules had moved out to Los Angeles, CA where he worked as an artist and had resided at 723 West 7th Street and also later maintained an art studio (room #404) out of the Blanchard Building located at 232 South Hill Street in the city, while still contributing work for the Inter Ocean. Around that same time, his home was located at 1107 El Molino Avenue.

From about mid 1907-1910, Gaspard had moved to New York and worked for the well-known writer, publisher, artist & philosopher, Elbert Hubbard (American, 1856-1915) at his famed Roycroft Arts & Crafts campus community in East Aurora, NY as head director of the printing department, where he succeeded the well-known painter, printer and illustrator, Otto J. Schneider (American, 1875-1946). Gaspard was given the moniker “Fra Gaspardino” by Hubbard, as well as “Gus” by fellow artisans, and he contributed many pen & ink and engraved portraits, typically frontispieces and interior illustrations as well as frameable signed etchings for many of Hubbard’s Roycroft publications including many for Hubbard’s Little Journeys book series as well as The Philistine and The Fra magazines. Felix Shay, a co-worker and fellow Roycrofter, recounted in his book, Elbert Hubbard of East Aurora (1926) that, “Jules Maurice Gaspard was a prince of fine gentlemen. There was none of the towsled or frowsy about him, and his ethics and philosophy were as fine as he was fine.”[1] In addition, he also taught portraiture and illustration at the Roycroft School of Arts, alongside fellow artists Alexis Jean Fournier (American, 1865-1948) and Burt Barnes (American, 1872-1947). After he left the Roycroft, Gaspard moved to Los Angeles, CA and worked as a portrait painter for about four years before deciding to move back to the East Coast where he settled in New York City in 1914.

When the United States entered WWI in 1917, Gaspard tried to enlist in the Army to fight but was rejected on account of his age. Afterwhich, he enlisted as a secretary for the Y.M.C.A. and also spent some time overseas. Gaspard’s fine portrait work was shown in several group exhibitions including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, and the Burchfield Center, State University College at Buffalo, NY. Gaspard died of heart failure on February 18, 1919 at his residence at 231 Lexington Avenue in New York City at the age of fifty-seven and was buried in New York & New Jersey Cemetery, Bergen, NJ. Services were held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Church, 1966 Broadway and 66th Street in the city and he was buried in New York & New Jersey Cemetery, North Bergen, NJ. After Jules' passing, his wife Minnie moved to Florida where she first resided in Palm Beach then later in Park Beach, FL. She eventually moved back out to California where she resided in Los Angeles again, and later resided in Long Beach, CA, and eveually San Diego where she passed away on December 12, 1969 at the age of 102 years old.

“In the matter of portraits this artist has achieved special distinction, his pictures having been highly commended by competent authorities, and widely copied by outside papers. His work is not only strongly original in style, but is equally remarkable for the strange dual quality of fineness and vigor. His is not given to sacrificing truth for identity in portraits, and makes the picture speak for itself like the really true artist, disdaining the artificial aid of elaborately finished background and merely pretty accessories in involved scroll-work. Technically he possesses a peculiarly strong continuous line, that while virile in quality is free from hardness and the mechanical touch so frequently associated with penwork.

Modelling – a characteristic frequently faulty of entirely lacking in penwork – is one of the chief virtues of Mr. Gaspard’s drawing. His pen appears to have the feeling of the painter’s brush in its breadth and sureness of touch, and is remarkable in its grasp on facial character, and the revelation of life in the eye.”
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Chronology:

1862- Born, July, in Mandres-sur-Vair, in Northeastern France to farmer and stone-cutter, Jules Emile Gaspard (1832-1895) and Catherine Aprone (née Henriot) Gaspard (1840-1918) and had a younger sister, Eugenie Marie Gaspard-Axtman (1866-1953).

1866- September 28, Sister Eugenie Maria Gaspard-Axtman was born (1866-1953 [Mrs. William F. Axtman]), France.

1868- March 20, immigrated to the United States with his family and they settled in Davenport, IA.

By 1878- At the age of seventeen, Jules learned the printing trade in the office of the Democrat and Leader newspaper and was also a close associate of William L. Purcell of the Purcell Printing Company in Davenport.

1879- Jules was registered for military duty during the Indian Wars but never served. He traveled to New York and studied at the Art Students’ League and also the Gotham Art Students’ Society, while also working as a job compositor/typesetter.

Circa the early 1880's- He had moved back to Davenport where he worked as a printer and soon opened his own atist studio over the rear of the local Post Office located at 209 East Third Street doing illustrative work and advertising designs as well as portraits from life, photography and photoengraving.

Circa the mid-late 1880’s- He moved to Chicago, IL.

From 1887-89- He worked as a printer with the editor Edward M. Keating, of the “Machine Composition” department for The Inland Printer.

Circa 1889-1890- He moved to Omaha, NE where he worked as an artist and resided at 1017 N. 26th Street.

By 1890-1891- He had moved back to Davenport, IA brielfy where he worked and was listed as an artist.

1891- May, he worked in the art department for the Rand, McNally & Co. publishing house, Chicago, IL. He worked as an illustrator for The Chicago Times.

1892- January 28, Jules married Ermina "Minnie" C. (née Bowlin) Gaspard (1867-1969), Roseville, Warren County, IL.

From circa 1892-circa mid 1907- He worked as an illustrator, art critic, manager and then director of the art department of the Inter Ocean, for which he contributed numerous pen & ink portraits and sketches, as well as for other publications during that time, Chicago, IL.

1898- Exhibited, group show, Art Institute of Chicago, IL.

Circa 1900-1901- Gaspard taught pen & ink portraiture at The School of Illustration, 737 Athenaeum Building, 26 Van Buren Street, Chicago, IL while still working for the Inter Ocean and he also furthered his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago during that time.

1903- March 9-22, exhibited, group show, “Second Annual Loan & Sale Exhibition of the Newspaper Artists of Chicago at the Art Institute”, Chicago, IL.

Circa 1903- Worked as manager in the art department for the Western Union Telegraph Company.

From circa 1904-circa mid 1907- He moved to Los Angeles where he worked as an artist and had resided at 723 West 7th Street and also later maintained a studio, room #404 out of the Blanchard Building at 232 South Hill Street in the city while still contributing work for the Inter Ocean during that time, and his home was located at 1107 El Molino Avenue (c1906-1907).

From circa mid 1907-1910- Gaspard had moved to New York where worked for the well-known writer, publisher, artist & philosopher, Elbert Hubbard (American, 1856-1915), at his famed Roycroft Arts & Crafts campus community in East Aurora, NY as head of the printing department, where he succeeded the well-known painter, printer and illustrator, Otto J. Schneider (American, 1875-1946). Gaspard was given the moniker “Fra Gaspardino” by Hubbard, and he contributed many pen & ink and engraved portraits, typically frontispieces for many of Hubbard’s Roycroft publications including many for Hubbard’s Little Journeys series. In addition, he also taught portraiture and illustration at the Roycroft School of Arts, alongside fellow artists Alexis Jean Fournier (American, 1865-1948) and Burt Barnes (American, 1872-1947).

1910- Moved to Los Angeles, CA, and engaged in portrait painting.

1913- Exhibited, group show, “The Portraits & Caricatures of James McNeill Whistler”, for quarter-length drawing, 20” x 14”, from a photograph by Eliott & Fry, London of “James McNeill Whistler” (No. 136, reproduced from Elbert Hubbard’s Whistler, 1902), University of Rochester, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY.

1914- Moved back to the East Coast where he settled in New York City.

1915- April, exhibited, group show, “Exhibition of portraitures of James McNeill Whistler”, for halftone engraving after a crayon drawing of “James McNeill Whistler” made for Elbert Hubbard (No. 49), University of Rochester, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY.

Circa 1917- When the United States entered WWI, Gaspard tried to enlist in the fighting division of the Army but was rejected due to his age. He then enlisted as a Y.M.C.A. secretary and spent some time overseas.

1919- February 18, Gaspard died of heart failure at his residence 231 Lexington Avenue at the age of fifty-seven, New York City, with services held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Church, 1966 Broadway and 66th Street in the city, and he was buried in New York & New Jersey Cemetery, North Bergen, NJ.

1953- December 8, his sister Eugenie died, Los Angeles, CA.

1969- December 12, Jules' wife Minnie died at the age of 102 years old in San Diego, CA.

1981- December 9-January 31, 1982, Exhibited, group show, “One Hundred and Fifty Years of Portraiture in Western New York”, for the conté crayon drawing “Alice Hubbard” c.1910 (No. 48, 17” x 14”), Burchfield Center, State University College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, NY.

(Written & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY 14052, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)

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