Morris H. Pancoast (1877-1963)

Morris H. Pancoast (1877-1963)

Today, Morris Hall Pancoast is recognized primarily for his depictions of the New England shore, though the artist was successful as both a painter and an illustrator during his lifetime.  Born in Salem, New Jersey in 1877, he began taking evening classes at age twenty at the Pennsylvania Academy, where he studied under Thomas Anshutz (1851-1912) until 1900.  His education later took him to Paris in 1902 where he continued training at the Académie Julian under Jean Paul Laurens (1838-1921).  Following three years of study in Europe, Pancoast returned to the United States where he worked as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1905-1907 and as a cartoonist at the North American from 1907 to 1919.  The artist and his wife moved to New York City in the 1920s, though the couple spent their summers in Rockport, Massachusetts, where she managed their “Studio Gallery by the Sea.”  Pancoast became a frequent exhibitor at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1911, where he would continue to show until 1934.  His work was also displayed during this time at the Brooklyn Museum and the National Academy of Design.

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During the Depression era, the Pancoasts moved frequently through Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, selling antiques.  It was during this time that Morris Pancoast executed some of his most striking Impressionist works, and it is likely that Bathers, Ogunquit, Maine was a product of his travels through the northern state.  In 1945 the couple settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the artist used his home as both gallery and studio, and his wife ran a small antique shop. 

Pancoast was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the Gloucester Society of Artists, the North Shore Arts Association, the Pennsylvania Academy Society of Artists, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Philadelphia Sketch Club and the Salmagundi Club.  His work is currently in the collections of the J.B. Speed Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery.

References: Peter Hastings Falk, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.

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