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The Cover
April 27, 2011

The Puff of Smoke

JAMA. 2011;305(16):1632. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.366

Painters who came of age at the turn of the century usually studied in Europe. Such an art education, considered de rigueur, included formal academy instruction, apprenticeships with established artists, and camaraderie with fellow struggling students. Gifford Beal (1879-1956) shunned this tradition, visiting Europe only twice during his lifetime—first after graduation from Princeton, then at age 29 years, on his honeymoon—and developed his talent solely on American soil. Beal's most significant influence was William Merritt Chase: Chase's school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, and sessions with the master in New York City, provided a nurturing atmosphere for Beal's natural ability. That gift stemmed from Beal's father, landscape painter William Reynolds Beal. The Beal family lived in Newburgh, New York, on the Hudson River: Willellen, their estate, provided a comfortable, if not luxurious, setting, and Beal utilized his innate skill from an early age. Studies at the Art Students League created a long-lasting bond between Beal and the League: he served a record 3 noncontiguous terms as their president.

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