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. Gaspard was born in Paris, France and immigrated to the United States circa 1870 with his family when he was eight years old. The family settled in Davenport, IA where Jules attended school and learned the printing trade in the office of the Democrat. He was also a close associate of William L. Purcell of the Purcell Printing Company. By 1879, Gaspard traveled to New York City and studied at the Art Students’ League as well as the Gotham Art Students’ Society, while also working as a typesetter.

In the early 1880’s Gaspard moved to Chicago, IL, and from 1887-89 he worked as a printer with editor E.M. Keating of the “Machine Composition” department for The Inland Printer. By 1891 he was employed as an illustrator for The Chicago Times, and from about 1892 to mid 1907, he worked as an 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.

From about mid 1907-1910, Gaspard 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. Gaspard was given the moniker “Fra Gaspardino” by Hubbard, as well as “Gus” by fellow artisans, and he contributed many portraits, typically frontispieces for many of Hubbard’s Roycroft publications including many for Hubbard’s Little Journeys series. As Felix Shay, a co-worker and fellow Roycrofter, recounted in his book, Elbert Hubbard of East Aurora (1926), he stated about Gaspard, “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).

Gaspard’s portraiture has been shown in group exhibitions including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, and the Burchfield Center, State University College, Buffalo, NY. He died on February 18, 1919 at his residence at 231 Lexington Avenue in New York City at the age of fifty-seven.

“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, Paris, France.

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

Circa 1870- Immigrated to the United States with his family and they settled in Davenport, IA.

1879- 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 moved to Chicago, IL.

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

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 Minnie C. (née Bowlin) Gaspard (c1867-), Warren County, IL.

From circa 1892-circa mid 1907- He worked as an 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.

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 at 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.

From circa mid 1907-1910- Gaspard 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. Gaspard was given the moniker “Fra Gaspardino” by Hubbard, and he contributed many 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 New York.

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- As 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 at his residence 231 Lexington Avenue at the age of fifty-seven, New York City.

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