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William Verplank Birney

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William Verplank Birney

(1858–1909) In Lyme: 1903
A Cincinnati-born painter who was trained in Munich in the early 1880s, William Verplank Birney created realistic genre scenes of European and American Subjects. Little known during the first half of the twentieth century, Birney has recently been recognized for his meticulous renderings of Victorian interiors and his ability to capture poignet moments of everyday life.

Birney received his initial training in Boston at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. In 1880 he enrolled at the Royal Academy in Munich. Althought no records exist to identify his instructors, his work demonstrates that he adopted a realistic style popular in Munich in the late 1870s. Birney's remderings of rooms filled with intricate, detailed objects demonstrate his alligiance to the second Munich style of the late nineteenth century. He was successful in Germany and was one of the few American artists to sell works directly from the 1883 International Exposition in Munich.

Birney returned to America around 1885 and established himself in New York City. He resided at the Benedict Building on Washington Square where many artists lived and had studios. He traveled frequently and was especially fond of English countrysides and rural home life.

Birney was a member of the New York Water Color Club, the Brooklyn Art Club, the Salmagundi Club, the Phildelphia Sketch Club, the Artists' Fund Society, and the Lotos Club. From 1885 until 1900, he was a frequent exhibitor at the National Academy of Design. He was elected an associate in 1900.

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