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Roy Cleveland Nuse
- Pennsylvania, Ohio
The following is from Robin Nuse, granddaughter of Roy Nuse. The information is adapted from Roy C. Nuse: A Biographical Sketch by Ellen Slack, also a granddaughter of the artist.
Roy C. Nuse was a respected teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1925 to 1954. He lived and painted in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for almost 60 years, working in a plein-air, impressionist style. He had six children that were often the subjects of some of his best paintings, especially in outdoor, rural, farm settings. He painted landscapes, figures in the landscape, still lifes and portraits in primarily in oils, but also worked in pastel.
A native of Springfield, Ohio, Roy helped out in his father's barbershop until his father became ill and Roy had to drop out of high school. He took a job in a factory hand-painting lamp shades, where he was recognized for his talent and encouraged to go to art school. He enrolled at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1905 and remained there until 1912, studying under Vincent Nowottny and Frank Duveneck. In 1915, he obtained a part-time teaching job at the Beechwood School near Philadelphia, which enabled him to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which was then one of the most renowned art schools in the nation.
At the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1915-1918, Nuse's talents were
recognized and he won all of the major student awards: the Toppan and Thouron Prizes in 1918 and two Cresson Scholarships to travel in Europe.
During this time, he moved his growing family to live on a farm in rural Bucks County. Between 1919 and 1923 he created many large canvasses of figures in the landscape, focusing on farm life of those times, and painting his children and family mostly in outdoor settings.
In 1925, Nuse was offered a teaching position at PAFA, where he taught drawing and painting, life and portrait classes until 1954. At the same time the Nuse family moved to Rushland, Pennsylvania, a small town that had a railroad station so Nuse could take the train in to Philadelphia on teaching days.
Although Roy Nuse lived in Bucks County most of his life, he shied away from being part of the "New Hope School". He knew many of the artists in the group, but preferred to keep to himself and his family. He had studied under Daniel Garber at PAFA, and later was his colleague. The two men admired each other's work, and corresponded; when Daniel Garber died he had a painting given to him by Nuse in his collection.
Early in his career, Nuse exhibited works in juried, national competitions, and had work accepted in the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. However in the 1930's as the popularity of Modernism grew, his work was rejected and he stopped applying. He became embittered towards the art world that was not interested in representational artists. He would not have anything to do with dealers either, preferring to sell his work himself.
In 1954, Nuse chose to retire from the Academy because of philosophical issues, even though his students begged him not to. He continued to teach privately at his home, many of his students were devoted to him. Nuse continued to paint and do portrait commissions into his eighties.
When Roy Nuse died, he left a substantial body of work to his six children. Much of his paintings have not been in the public eye since, and he is largely unrecognized. Through efforts of two of his granddaughters, the Nuse family is starting to exhibit his work, to further his reputation. He is now becoming properly recognized as a member of the Pennsylvania Impressionists group.
In 2000, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania acquired one of Nuse's masterpieces, "Age of Speed" which depicts five children playing with a wheel in a barn. This painting was on display during the retrospective exhibit, "Roy C. Nuse - Figures and Landscapes" at the Michener Museum, February-May 2002.
Another painting, "Summer Landscape," is in the collection of the Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Portraits by Nuse are also in the permanent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Swarthmore College and Thomas Jefferson University.