Robert Atkinson Fox [1860-1935]
Mist over the canyon, ca.1900
Oil on canvas
30 x 19 inches
Robert Atkinson Fox [1860-1935] biography
Robert Atkinson Fox was a Philadelphia artist who produced more than 1000 works of art. From 1900 until his death, millions of the artist’s color photo-lithographic reproductions prints were consumed by the American middle-class.
Fox was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1860, but immigrated to the United States somewhere between 1885 and 1890. A prolific painter, he worked as an artist both in Toronto and in the United States and appears to have enjoyed great commercial success during his lifetime. He worked for various publishers, including Brown and Bigelow of St. Paul, Minnesota, Edward Gross & Co. of New York, Master Art Publishers, Chicago, The Red Wing Advertising Company, and the Thomas D. Murphy Co. of Red Oak, Iowa among others.
Fox studied in Canada and Europe prior to arriving in America. He was the pupil of J W Bridgeman at the Ontario Society of Artists in Toronto. He exhibited at the Philadelphia Art Club in 1898. His work appeared as art prints, calendars, advertising pieces, ink blotters, candy, handkerchief and jewelry boxes, magazine covers, children’s books, newspaper inserts, postcards, puzzles, thermometers, and numerous other forms.
Fox was a generalist. He could paint basically any assignment given to him by a publisher, he frequently painted from memory, aided by sketches, sometimes finishing a painting in a day’s time. Many of his original paintings were oil on canvas. His subjects included landscapes, probably the most collectable today, to enchanted gardens, country-sides, cottages, animals and pets (was a leading painter of cows, but also painted horses, dogs, sheep, bears and foxes). His diverse subject matter also includes women, Indians and Indian maidens, the Wild West, historical and contemporary themes, hunting and fishing scenes, adventure, ships, and historic figures such as Washington, Lafayette, Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.
Although many of his prints bear the signature R. Atkinson Fox, many unsigned and untitled exist, due to the cropping of the print when framing it. Fox used at least 26 known pseudonyms, and perhaps 18 more were used.
Fox married Anna Gaffney in 1903. They lived in New Jersey until about 1924, when he moved his family to Chicago and continued his work until his death in 1935 at the age of 74.
R. Atkinson Fox has been called a “Parrish imitator” because of the similarities of many of his popular works to illustrator Maxfield Parrish. Yet many other artists of the time also attempted to capitalize to meet the needs of the public. However, few other artists of this time went on to provide the volume of work and diversity of subject matter as R. Atkinson Fox.