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Arthur S. Douglas









Arthur S. Douglas
Douglas in his Providence Studio, 1946

Arthur S. Douglas was born in Phenix, Rhode Island on July 11, 1860, a son of James and Mary Douglas. At the age of eighteen, Arthur enrolled in the new art school being founded by a member of a prominent Rhode Island family, Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf.

Mrs. Metcalf belonged to the Centennial Women, a group formed to raise funds for Rhode Island's exhibit at the Centennial Exposition in 1876. The group had $1,675 remaining after the exposition. Inspired by foreign exhibits on design and interior decorating Metcalf persuaded the group to donate the money to found what would become the Rhode Island School of Design.

Metcalf directed the school until her death in 1895. Her daughter, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke, then took over until her death in 1931. Even in its infancy RISD was a creative watershed for emerging artists, design students and art collectors. It has been consistently named among the premier Arts programs in the US, along with Yale School of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago by U.S. News & World Report.

RISD was incorporated in 1877 and opened its doors the following Fall at the Hoppin Homestead Building, in Providence RI., October the 1st, 1878 with Charles A. Barry as the headmaster. At the age of 18, Arthur Douglas enrolled in the first school term and is listed on the school registry as a day student, number # 68. During the eight terms Douglas spent at RISD, he was often used as a pupil instructor in lieu of student tuition, which was twenty dollars per term for days and six dollars per term for evenings.

While attending RISD, Douglas exhibited with the newly formed Providence Art Club at their first exhibit on April 7 - May 7 1881 and sold his painting Head of Fighting Gladiator for $40. At the 2nd Providence Art Club exhibition held November 15 - December 20 1881 he sold: Sunset at Rocky Point for $15 and Old Wreck at Narragansett Pier for $10. Among the contributors to this Providence Art Club exhibition were such notables as Sydney Burleigh, an outstanding water colorist of that era (Douglas is mentioned in Sydney Burleigh's Art Club Scrapbook). Charles Walter Stetson, a famous etcher, as well as W. Woodward and Edward Bannister. After reviewing this exhibition, artist George Whitaker wrote in the December 3, 1881 issue of the Providence Journal, that "Arthur Douglas of the Rhode Island School of Design showed meritorious work".

Upon graduation from RISD, Douglas traveled in Europe as a companion to a wealthy person. While in Yorkshire, UK, he painted landscapes and seascapes of the North Sea Coast; three water colors are East Cliffs, Whitby (Auctioned at Christie's Fine Art Auction May 22, 1991, lot 99), Off of Whitby Harbor (Auctioned at Sloan and Company Fine Art Auction September 15, 1991, lot 2282) and Castle Hill, Scarborough (Auctioned at Sloan and Company Fine Art Auction October 26, 1991, lot 1718).

During the years of 1890 through 1894, Douglas established an engraving company in Phenix, RI - Arthur S. Douglas and Company.

At some point, Douglas opened his own studio in the Lapham Building, Providence and thereater moved to College Street, where he continued painting and teaching. In 1918 he exhibited 2 paintings with the Society of Independent Artists, #215 Brook, #216 A Day in June.

Later, he established a studio in his home on Sackett Street, where he did commissioned portraits. He developed cancer of the esophagus. The last three years of his life were spent in a nursing home on Blackstone Street in Providence. By this time indigent, unable to speak, and taking medication to ease his pain, he continued to paint and give lessons in brush techniques, color mixing, spacing and balancing of a painting's subject matter. Arthur Douglas died on August 25th, 1949, at the age of 89. He was interred in Greenwood Cemetery, West Warwick, Rhode Island.

27 works of this Arthur Douglas Collection were exhibited at the Providence Water Color Club on May 18th through the 25th, 1968, at 6 Thomas Street, formerly Angell's Lane. This collection is a visual testimony of a dedicated Rhode Island artist and one of the first graduates of the 130 year old Rhode Island School of Design.





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