The son of a Congregational minister, Sidney Dickinson was born in Wallingford, Connecticut and raised in various places, including upstate New York, central Alabama, and Fargo, North Dakota. Interested in art at an early age, he studied at the Art Students League in New York City under William Merritt Chase and George Bridgman, and at the National Academy of Design with Douglas Volk. Known primarily as a figure and portrait painter, he exhibited widely, was the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, and is represented in many museum and private collections.
An enthusiastic practitioner of alla prima painting, Dickinson often completed a portrait in a sitting of three or four hours, working with at least six inches of thickly encrusted paint on one end of his palette. His portraits generally feature a strongly colored background in a dominant hue, while figures are broadly brushed in spontaneous strokes. As versatile as he was prolific, Dickinson painted some of the most interesting personalities of his time, including such fellow artists as his cousin Edwin Dickinson, Raphael Soyer, and the sculptor Robert Aitken. While Dickinson composed portraits and figurative works directly in the studio, his practice for his rarer landscapes seems to have remained the traditional one of painting on-site studies to serve as the basis for finished works.
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