Over the centuries, parents, and fathers in particular, have been teaching their children their skills and trades. Intriguingly, there were a number of artists who taught their daughters, even during the Renaissance when it was very uncommon to do so, their talents and skills. As time presses on, fathers continue to share their knowledge and training with their offspring. Highlighted below are several artist pairs or groups who shared a common bond through their love and creation of art and design.
Orazio Gentileschi (Italian, 1562-1647) and Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593-1652)
Orazio is best known for his oil paintings of mythology and biblical subjects, and did royal commissions in both Italy and England. Because 20th century art historians revived interest in Artemisia, her name has become quite commonplace in art history classes taught today; but before this revival, most of her works were either ignored by scholars or attributed to her father. During her lifetime, however, she was taught by her father and enjoyed a successful career depicting biblical and allegorical scenes from a female perspective. Indeed, she was able to pass her love and talent to her daughter, Prudentia, who also became an artist.
Three Generations: Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741-1827); Raphaelle Peale (American, 1774-1825), Rembrandt Peale (American, 1778-1860), and Rubens Peale (American, 1784-1865); and Mary Jane Peale (American, 1826-1902)
Charles Willson Peale was an American Revolutionary-era portraitist, as well as a soldier, inventor, scientist, and politician. He is best known for painting leaders of the Revolution, and after establishing himself and his family in Philadelphia, he founded an institution intended for the study of natural law and the display of natural history and technological objects. The institution was originally known as Peale’s Museum, and later became the beloved Philadelphia Museum of Art. His sons, Raphaelle and Rembrandt, showed a natural propensity towards the fine arts and were trained early as artists. However, their sibling Rubens had very poor eyesight and therefore Charles groomed him for museum management. One of the last painters of the Peale dynasty was Mary Jane, Rubens’ daughter. She, interestingly enough, taught her father at the age of 71, despite is eyesight, to paint as well, bringing the family of artists full circle.
Raymond Bonheur (French, 1796-1849) and Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899)
The famed animalière painter, Rosa, was trained from the age of 13 in her father’s art studio, receiving daily exercises from the experienced art teacher himself. Although Raymond is rumored to have hoped for a male child as his first, he was ultimately quite proud of Rosa, regardless of her gender. Rosa began at about the age of two to show interest in art, and Raymond once wrote to his sister: “I must tell you that already she has begun to show a taste for the arts. She often seizes my crayon and scrawls on the door and then calls to me: ‘Papa, papa, Lalie (Rosalie) makes picture.” Raymond had other children who also showed a knack for the arts, including Isadore-Jules Bonheur, and passed his love of art to all of them.
William Morris (British, 1834-1896) and May Morris (British, 1862-1933)
William Morris was a textile designer and wished to restore needlework to its once great glory in the decorative arts. Self-taught in embroidery, he perfected his technique and proceeded to train his wife and her sister in the same. These women, in turn, taught William’s youngest child, May, who displayed brilliant aptitude as a seamstress. She would later study at both the National Art Training School and the Royal College of Art. Together, William and May were also politically minded and active; he was a socialist campaigner and she helped to found the Women’s Guild of Arts as a retort to the Art Worker’s Guild, which prevented women from joining.
Camille Pissarro (Danish/French, 1830-1903) and Lucien Pissarro (French, 1863-1944)
An influential and early French Impressionist, Camille aided in establishing the careers of artists such as Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) and Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903). More importantly to Camille, as a father, was teaching his sons (all of whom became painters) his trade. Lucien, in particular, adored his father and even named the publishing house that he founded after a town, Eragny, in Normandy, where Camille had once lived. The books published there were known for their beautiful illustrations, many of which were based on Lucien’s colorful drawings.
José Ruiz Blasco (Spanish, 1838-1913) and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Blasco began training Picasso at the young age of seven, formally teaching him both figure drawing and oil painting. Blasco was a trained art instructor himself, and believed that copying the masters was the only true way to learn to draw and paint. In his early teens, with the help of his father, the precocious Picasso passed the exam and was admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Malaga, Spain. Although the two argued as his father often critiqued his son’s work, their influence on each other was paramount, and Picasso would not have become the legendary figure he is today without his father’s assistance.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919) and Jean Renoir (French, 1894-1979)
The world famous Pierre-Auguste Renoir is best known for his Impressionist paintings and drawings, and became one of the leading French Impressionists along with Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Edgar Degas. His son, Jean, became a prominent international filmmaker, actor, director, and producer, and was once described by Orson Welles as “the greatest of all directors.” The father and son duo had a dynamic and symbiotic relationship, wherein the father influenced his son’s filmmaking though his artistic practices, and Jean’s films, in turn, shed light on the meaning behind many of his father’s paintings.
Three Generations: Newell Convers Wyeth (American, 1882-1945); Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009); and Jamie Wyeth (American, B. 1946)
Known as one of the foremost American illustrators, N.C. Wyeth was commissioned by many publishers, including Scribner’s, to create the paintings that would illustrate such classics as ‘Treasure Island” and many others. N.C. settled himself and family in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and his house and studio are now part of the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Most of his five children, including daughters Henriette, Carolyn, and Ann, were artists, but none as famous as his son Andrew. Andrew is recognized as one of the most prominent American artists of the 20th century, and is known for his landscapes, interiors, and intimate portraits. Andrew’s son, Jamie, has also become a renowned realist artist, embracing and continuing the Wyeth artistic dynasty.
Guillermo Kahlo (German, 1872-1941) and Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
Although Guillermo was a photographer and Frida was a painter, they both shared a deep affinity for portraiture, particularly that of themselves. Frida grew up assisting her father in his darkroom, and the two shared a close relationship. Guillermo not only used his daughter as the subject of many of his photos, he also cared for Frida after her infamous streetcar accident, nursing her injuries while also encouraging her to pursue her passion for art. After his death, Frida painted a portrait of her dad with his camera, and below him a garland which reads: “I painted my father Wilhelm Kahlo, of Hungarian-German origin, professional artist/photographer, whose nature was generous, intelligent, and polite. He was courageous, having suffered from epilepsy for sixty years, but he never stopped working and he fought against Hitler. Adoringly, his daughter Frida.”
Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959) and John L. Wright (American, 1892-1972)
Superstar architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright was also a writer and an educator and is best known for his design philosophy that incorporated harmony with nature and humanity. Best exemplified through Fallingwater (1935), a house through which water flows and is located in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, he designed over 1,000 structures (half of which were realized) and worked for a span of over 70 years. His son, John, was actually fired by Frank as an architect, but went on to design the famous children’s toys “Lincoln Logs,” which gained him a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.
Larry Walker (American, B. 1935) and Kara Walker (American, B. 1969)
Larry Walker has been an artist since the 1960s, a painter of mostly landscapes and the human figure. His studio was in their garage, where Kara would sit on his lap and absorb his artistic practice. He lovingly shared many of his supplies with Kara, who began drawing at an early age, using the sidewalk as her paper and her father’s pastels instead of chalk. Now one of the most successful contemporary female artists, she has perhaps surpassed her father in terms of fame, but her roots came from his training and encouragement.