Bryant Park Studios, 80 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018
Anderson Lodge, Meeteetse, WY 82433
Putnam Cemetery Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Colonel Abraham Archibald Anderson (August 11, 1846 – April 27, 1940) was an American artist, rancher, and philanthropist.
Anderson was born in New Jersey as one of ten children of William Anderson (1814 – 1887), a civil engineer turned Dutch Reformed Church Reverend, and Sarah Louise Ryerson (1818–1907). After an initial career as a businessman, on June 15, 1876 Anderson married Elizabeth Milbank, the reform-minded daughter of the investor Jeremiah Milbank and an heiress to his considerable fortune.
Beginning in the mid-1870s, Anderson studied art in Paris, first with Léon Bonnat, then under Alexandre Cabanel, Fernand Cormon, Auguste Rodin, and Raphaël Collin. Anderson developed a reputation for his portraits. His 1889 portrait of Thomas Alva Edison is in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
In spring 1875 in Venice, Charles Warren Stoddard recalled one day seeing a tall, slender and exceedingly elegant figure approaching languidly. This second American artist, A. A. Anderson (Abraham Archibald Anderson), appeared one Sunday at Francis Davis Millet’s wearing a long black cloak of Byronic mold, one corner of which was carelessly thrown back over his arm, displaying a lining of cardinal satin. The costume was enhanced by a gold-threaded, damask scarf and a broad-brimmed hat with tassels. In Stoddard’s published memoirs, identifying Anderson only as Monte Cristo, the journalist recalled the artist’s uncommonly comely face of the oriental–oval and almond-eyed type. Entranced by the glamor surrounding Monte Cristo, Stoddard soon passed whole days drifting with him in his gondola, or walking ashore. Invited to dinner by Monte Cristo, Stoddard and his friend (Millet) found Monte occupying the suite of a royal princess, it was so ample and so richy furnished. (Monte was a princess, Stoddard hints.) Funded by an inheritance from dad, Monte had earlier bought a steam yacht and cruised with an equally rich male friend to Egypt, then given the yacht away to an Arab potentate. Later, while Stoddard was visiting Paris, he found himself at once in the embrace of Monte Cristo, recalling: "That night was Arabian, and no mistake!"
This painting depicts a young woman reading of her success at the ball in the society pages. Edison purchased the painting at the Paris Exposition of 1889 and had it shipped to his New Jersey estate. Before being shown at the Paris Exposition it had been exhibited at the Paris Salon where it had received a gold medal. The woman who posed for the painting was a ballet dancer at the "Grand Opera" ballet in France. In the scene she is lying in bed scanning the society pages for mention of her debut at the ball. Her ball gown is tossed in the right hand corner of the painting. Artist A.A. Anderson indicated in a newspaper article that the focal point of the painting was the spray of violets on the night table next to the Louis XVI bed. A newspaper article recounts, 'Mr.Edison saw it, and at once became the lucky proprietor." In a letter to Anderson in November in 1890, Edison's secretary remarks that the painting, "now occupies a prominent place in Mr. Edison's residence, where it is much admired by everyone who sees it." In his biography the artist claimed that in 1890 a copy of the painting was made for the Czarina's boudoir in the Royal Palace at St. Petersburg as seen in illustration printed in the 'London Illustrated News" in 1890. Signed and Dated in lower left corner: A.A. Anderson- '89. Anderson also painted a portrait of Edison working on a tinfoil phonograph which is now owned and exhibited by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
In 1890, Anderson organized the American Art Association in Paris, a beneficial mutual-aid society for American art students. He was its president until 1912; it lasted until 1932.
In 1900, Anderson commissioned the 10-story Bryant Park Studios building from the New York society architect Charles A. Rich. Situated on the south side of Bryant Park, its generous windows and high-ceilings were designed specifically for artists. Anderson maintained his own suite on the top floor until the end of his life. Bryant Park Studios (popularly known as The Beaux Arts Building after the Café des Beaux Arts on the ground floor) became immediately popular, and tenants included Edward Steichen, Fernand Léger, Robert Henri, Katherine Sophie Dreier, J. C. Leyendecker, Jo Davidson, Florine Stettheimer, Edward Suydam, Gari Melchers, Stella Marks, John La Gatta, Julian Rix, Rodrigues Ottolengui, Haskell Coffin, Leon Gordon, Irving Penn, and Kurt Seligmann. The building still stands.
Returning to the United States in the summers, Anderson bought land in northwestern Wyoming and developed it into the Palette Ranch. He personally designed William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's guest ranch Pahaska Tepee, and his own home, Anderson Lodge. That lodge became the first administrative headquarters for the Yellowstone Forest Reserve in 1902, as President Theodore Roosevelt named Anderson as the first Special Superintendent of Forest Reserves. Anderson played a significant role in the preservation and development of the Yellowstone region.
His autobiography, Experiences and Impressions, was published in 1933. Anderson's daughter, Eleanor Campbell, founded the Judson Health Center in 1921.
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