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Moonrise at Charleston, circa 1913-14
Birge Harrison (1854-1929)

View Artist Bio
Oil on board
8 x 10 inches
Signature Details: Signed lower left
Status: Placed in a Private Collection

Lovell Birge Harrison was a classically-trained artist, critic, and instructor who began his art studies at the Philadelphia Sketch Club and at the newly-founded school of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, under the tutelage of Thomas Eakins. As a young man, Harrison and his two brothers, Alexander and Butler, expressed a strong desire to pursue careers as professional artists. Their father, Apollos Harrison, was a man of letters who had been a successful merchant prior to the outbreak of the Civil War and who later in life became an expert in horticulture, working as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  He clearly was interested in the fine and performing arts, but for monetary and cultural reasons he preferred that his sons find careers away from the struggles of the studio artist.
Nonetheless, Harrison enrolled in Eakins' classes at the Philadelphia Sketch Club and was one of a small group of first students to enjoy the rigorous training at the Pennsylvania Academy. Through his friendship with the portrait painter and well-known engraver, John Sartain, and because of the growing acceptance of the role of studio artists, Harrison was allowed by his father to continue his studies abroad at the studio of Carolus-Duran, who had also taught John Singer Sargent. In fact, it was Sargent who encouraged Harrison to study under the Frenchman.  
Harrison's time in France was quite productive, and he exhibited a steady growth of skill. He continued his training at the artist's colony at Grez sur-Loing, and began to exhibit his works at the Paris Salon exhibitions, soon receiving one of the greatest honors for any student, when the French government purchased his painting titled November, shown at the Salon of 1881.
The artist traveled extensively over the next decade, touring the globe with stops in Japan, Australia, and throughout Europe. When he returned to the United States, Harrison, along with his first wife, Eleanor, spent several years in California and also made frequent visits to Charleston, South Carolina, and Quebec, Canada. The exact location and date of Sunburst at Sea are unknown, but this work has much in common with other views of the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina which offered one of Harrison's preferred vistas. Harrison was extremely fond of the city and he visited often in the years after 1908. RS


1451 River Road · Yemassee, SC 29945 · 843.412.8738
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