8. Mural Study for The Armistice Letter – Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania Post Office, c. 1938
Watercolor on paper, 5 ½ x 10 ½ inches (unframed sheet), 12 ¾ x 16 ½ inches (framed sheet), initialed “EH” lower right, inscribed lower left “11/16 = 1 foot”, inscribed “Eugene Higgins” verso of original backing material
About the Artist
Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1874, Eugene Higgins was an Ashcan and social realist painter and printmaker. As a child, Higgins lived in Saint Louis with his father, an Irish stonemason, and builder who had a significant impact on the artist’s later work. He attended the Académie Julian in Paris and the École de Beaux-Arts. During his time studying in France, he reproduced Old Masters in the Louvre and traveled across the continent. After his return to the U.S. in 1904, he established a studio in New York where he remained for the rest of his life while occasionally summering in Old Lyme, Connecticut. From his time in France, Higgins was influenced by Honoré Daumier, Jean Millet, and Michelangelo. The poet Edward Markham described Higgins as "the one powerful painter of the tragic lacks and losses." Often employing a dark and somber palette, Higgins’ pieces focused on the lives of the less fortunate, refugees, the homeless, and the poor. Higgins was an associate member of the National Academy of Design and exhibited widely during the 1920s through 1940s. During the Depression Era, Higgins won three mural commissions from New Deal art projects. He is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and all other standard references.