Painter , Illustrator and Artist .
American , 1842-1924
was an American artist, working mainly as an illustrator and especially known for his (often allegorical) depiction of animals. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father was an important figure in politics as well as a well-known lawyer. At the age of 13 he left school and took a job at the then newly-established American Express Company in Chicago, with his parents intending him to have a business career. Being nineteen at the outbreak of the Civil War he served in the Union Army. After his discharge he returned to Chicago, having decided to devote his life to art, and started studying drawing under Walter Shirlaw at the city's Academy of Design. In 1870 he took the decision to continue his studies in New York City, which became his home for the rest of his life. He enrolled at the National Academy of Design, where he was taught by Lemuel Wilmarth. He joined the Art Students League, headed by his old teacher Walter Shirlaw, in which he remained involved for the rest of his life. Unlike many other Americans of his time who felt themselves to be living in a cultural backwater, Church - while he did think that an artist needed to be formally taught - saw no need to study art in Europe and in fact only crossed the Atlantic late in his life. He often expressed outspoken pride in original American art and declaring that "foreign art" had "little to teach Americans". This might be a reflection of the attitudes taken by the strong nativist movements active during his young age, among other places in Chicago when he lived there.