William Henry Clapp by Edmond Dyonnet
William Clapp was born in Montreal in 1879 of American parents. Clapp’s loyalty to Impressionism began in 1901 at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner. Before he left for Europe three years later, he was already painting mainly out of doors, and his conversion to Impressionism was almost immediate upon his arrival in Paris. Although he studied at the academies Julian, Colarossi, and Grande Chaumière, under some of the best teachers of the period, Clapp spent most of his time away form the life classes, painting rural landscape. He 1909 he visited New York City. He left Canada permanently in 1915. He lived in Cuba in 1915-1917. In 1917, Clapp found employment as a teacher of life drawing at the California School of Arts and Crafts. In 1918, Clapp was asked to act as a temporary director of the Oakland Art Gallery. He became the gallery’s permanent director in 1921 and did not relinquish the post for thirty-one years. Clapp was totally plugged into the Oakland art community. In 1923, he was one of the founders of California’s famous pioneer art group, The Six. They painted up and down the California’s coast. In the twenties he arranged the first none-man shows in America of modern masters as Kandinsky in 1929, Feininger in 1929 and Klee in 1935. He died in Oakland, California, in 1954.
Clapp painted landscapes. In 1906 he spent most of the year at Chezy-sur-Marne, creating his first body of Impressionist canvases. 1907 he painted in Spain and Flanders. From 1908 he painted the landscapes of rural Quebec. Then, despite his sponsorship of experimental artist, Clapp’s own painting remained tied to Impressionism.
He won a three-year scholarship in 1900-03. At the Art Association of Montreal’s annual Spring Show in 1908, Clapp shared the coveted Jessie Dow Award with Helen McNicoll. In 1917, he was offered a one-man exhibition by the Oakland Art Gallery. He was elected Associate of Royal Canadian Academy in 1911.
By 1906, Clapp was exhibiting with the prestigious Salon d’automne in Paris with such artists as Renoir and Bonnard. When he arrived back in Canada in 1908, he brought with him more than one hundred canvases and oil sketches, and within a few months of his return he was exhibiting at the Art Association of Montreal’s annual Spring Show. In 1914 he had a one-man exhibition of eighty-nine paintings at Johnson’s Art Galleries in Montreal. He exhibited regularly with the Royal Canadian Academy from 1907 to 1918. He also exhibited at the Canadian Art Club in Toronto between 1912 and 1915, at the Art Association of Montreal Spring Shows in 1908-14 and at the U.S National Academy of Design.
In 1908, his winning painting was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada.
Source: Paul Duval, Canadian Impressionism, McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1990