John La Farge

La Farge, John (lə färzh) [key], 1835–1910, American artist and writer, b. New York City. He studied with William Morris Hunt in Newport, R.I., and with Thomas Couture in Paris. La Farge began his career as a painter of landscapes and figure compositions. Commissioned (1876) to decorate Trinity Church, Boston, he thereafter engaged primarily in mural painting and the manufacture and design of stained glass.

His murals in Trinity Church and the Church of the Ascension, New York City, set a standard for the art unsurpassed in the United States. He also painted notable murals in various courtrooms and state capitals. A lifelong Roman Catholic, he did much of his best work for churches. His splendid windows may be seen in the churches of Buffalo, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., in the chapels of Harvard and Columbia, and in Gilded Age mansions. La Farge's watercolors and drawings are also well known, particularly those commemorating his visit to the South Seas in 1890–91, and his easel paintings are in many leading American museums.

An eclectic artist and a man of the widest culture, friend of Henry Adams and Henry James, La Farge did much to create a sound tradition of the fine arts in the United States. His writings and lectures on art are distinguished for their urbanity and judgment. Among them are Considerations on Painting (1895), An Artist's Letters from Japan (1897), The Higher Life in Art (1908), and Reminiscences of the South Seas (1912).

See study by R. Cortissoz (1911, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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