Caleb A. Slade (1882-1961)

Caleb A. Slade (1882-1961)

“[Slade] paints with a directness of statement affected by none of the present-day fads – presenting things as they appeal to him directly, which gives his work that touch of individuality which is the best possession of the real artist”

                                                                                --- the Philadelphia Record, February 18, 1912

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Born in Acushnet, Massachusetts, Caleb Arnold Slade graduated from Brown University in 1904 and launched a business career before changing course upon visiting an artists’ colony in upstate New York. By 1907, he had joined the Art Students League in New York, studying under Frank Dumond and Louis Loeb, and later went to Paris, enrolling at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens in 1909.  Inspired by the artistic pulse of city, Slade maintained a small studio near the Left Bank and would stay on in Paris for several winters, spending the warmer months painting the landscapes he discovered on his travels throughout Tangiers, Egypt, Norway and Italy, where he spent two months in Venice in 1909 and visited again in 1911. 

Prior to World War I, Slade exhibited with several other expatriates at the American Art Association in Paris as well as the Salon des Beaux-Arts de Paris-Plage and the Salon des Artistes Francais. As the danger escalated in Europe, Slade was allowed by the French government to stay, unlike a number of his contemporaries who had already returned home. He completed two war-related paintings, Come Unto Me and The Comrade’s Story, that were later reproduced in Scribner’sWoman’s Home Companion and The Literary Digest. The latter painting was eventually sold by Vose Galleries in 1914 for an impressive $5,000. Slade sailed home to the States in 1915, but returned to France in 1917 as a Captain in the U.S. Army of Engineers with the task of painting camouflage.

After the war, Slade went to Tunis where he completed a series of sketches published in Scribner’s in 1921, and continued his visits to favorite painting grounds in the French countryside and Venice. Back home, he made trips to the Maine coast and his native Cape Cod, and eventually settled in Truro by 1925, where his home, studio and several rental cottages were dubbed “Sladeville.” He was a member of and exhibited with the New Bedford Art Association and the Philadelphia Art Club, and also showed at the Provincetown Art Association, the Union League in New York and with Vose Galleries in 1915, 1917 and in the early 1920s. A painting shown at Copley Hall in Boston in 1913 was purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner for her impressive palazzo in Boston’s Fens neighborhood. The artist also resided part-time in Washington DC, having become a fine portrait painter later in his career, capturing the likenesses of many important figures including Vice-President Charles G. Dawes. Slade spent his final years tending to his gardens and the rental cottages of his Truro compound before passing away in 1961.

References: Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1999; Mary Jean Blasdale, Artists of New Bedford (New Bedford, 1990); True Visions: The Paintings of C. Arnold Slade (1881-1961) exhibition catalogue, Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, Massachusetts, November 17, 2001 – January 20, 2002, text by Julie Carlson. 

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