William McKendree Snyder

JCHS, HMI jointly organize
an exhibit of Snyder art

Collection to include those
owned by private individuals

Staff Report

(June 2012) – An exhibit of the late Madison, Ind., artist William McKendree Snyder’s paintings and other noted works will be highlighted this year at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Heritage Center from June through October 2012. This exhibit will be made possible through the collaboration of the Jefferson County Historical Society and Historic Madison Inc.
Exhibit will include those paintings from both the collections of JCHS and HMI as well as on loan from the City of Madison and from private individual collectors. Some paintings will include those that are not usually available for public viewing.
Snyder was born on Dec. 20, 1848, in Liberty, Ind., and named after the famous early Methodist minister, William McKendree, who was a bishop in this area. Snyder was an American painter active in Indiana in the late 19th and 20th centuries and is noted as an artist, portrait and landscape painter with a national reputation. In 1868-1870, he took Art instruction in Cincinnati at the studio of J. Insco Williams and lived, and worked with his brother, R.W. Snyder, who was a photographer in Columbus, Ind.

Benedictine Nun

Photo provided

The painting,
courtesy of Historic
Madison Inc., is
titled, “Benedictine
Nun” circa 1893 and is
part of the William
Snyder exhibit.

In 1872-75, Snyder studied in the east with the renowned artist Alber Beierstadt, William Morris Hunt, Charles Warren Eaton and George Inness. During his early career, he painted portraits. Two of his best were of his parents. Early in his career during the 1870s, he turned to figure composition, literary in theme, which included nude women.
During the panic of the 1870s, he was forced to bring his family to live with his father at 127 East St. in Madison. This was his home for the rest of his life. He began his painting trips to nearby countryside, drawing from nature as he saw it in the Ohio River valley as well as the beautiful woodlands of Jefferson County. Finally, in his later years, outdoor compositions became his major interest. He died in 1930 and is buried in the East Section of Springdale Cemetery in Madison.
An opening reception of this Snyder exhibit is planned for 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Heritage Center at 615 W. First St. A $10 donation is requested. Historian and author Estill Curtis Pennington will be the keynote speaker presenting “Ohio Valley Painting at the time of William McKendree Snyder” at 6:30 p.m. Pennington’s book, titled “Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920,” highlights a variety of portrait artists including Snyder. In addition, Pennington has published a biography of Vevay, Ind., artist W.H. Stevens titled, “Will Henry Stevens, 1881-1949: An eye transformed, a hand transforming.” The opening reception is a joint fundraiser for HMI and JCHS.
Refreshments will be served during opening. The entire exhibit will be available for viewing through October.

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