Leon Kroll

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About this artist

Abraham Leon Kroll was best known during the decades between the wars for his figure paintings. Trained in New York at the Art Students League under JOHN TWACHTMAN and at National Academy of Design, he went to Paris to study for two years, beginning in 1908. He studied at the Académie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens (1883-1921) but felt that he learned more at museums and galleries. On this and a subsequent trip to Europe in 1914 Kroll was drawn to the work of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665), and Piero della Francesca (c. 1420-1492), artists who would determine his classical interpretation of the human figure and the landscape.

Although his first paintings after his return to the United States were Ash Can school images of New York City’s street life, by the end of the 1910s he was specializing in the figure. During the 1920s Kroll painted mainly women, often nude, presenting them in interiors that often have windows looking out to landscapes or placing them outdoors. He always depicted solid, fully modeled, large-scale figures. His landscapes, whether of Central Park, Maine, Woodstock, or other places, were highly reminiscent of the work of Cézanne. Kroll also produced some stilllife paintings. His well-defined, classical figure types and pastoral settings accorded well with mural-painting aesthetics, and beginning in the 1930s he won several commissions, including panels for the United States Department of justice Building in Washington, D.C., the Worcester (Mass.) War Memorial, and the Indiana State Capitol. During the first twenty of his mature years he supported himself by teaching at a variety of schools in New York and elsewhere.

Archiv. Am. Art, Leon Kroll Papers (portions on microfilm) § Index 20th Cent. Artists 1 (January 1934): 59-64; 1 (September 1934): II; 2 (September 1935): VI; 3 (August-September 1936): VI; reprint, pp. 82-87, 89, 91, 93 § James W. Lane, "Leon Kroll," Magazine of Art 30 (April 1937): 219-23 § New York, Bernard Danenberg Galleries, The Rediscovered Years: Leon Kroll, exh. cat., 1970, with foreword by Bernard Danenberg, biographical note, lists of awards, collections, and affiliations, bibliography § Nancy Hale and Fredson Bowers, eds., Leon Kroll: A Spoken Memoir (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the University of Virginia Art Museum, 1983), primarily an interview with quotations from the artist, with list of awards, bibliography by Willa Kay Lawall.