William Henry Clapp Bio

William Henry Clapp, Canadian (1879 - 1954)

An American/Canadian Impressionist painter of beguiling beauty and skill. Because Clapp spent nearly all his professional life in Canada, France, Cuba, and California, he was not part of the Eastern art establishment, and his work was largely overlooked by the New York art press.

He was taken by the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism he found in France, 1904-08. Most of the original artists were alive and active, and the next generation was coming on the scene. He was particularly influenced by the work of Seurat and Signac. But when he returned to Canada, and to a slightly lesser extent California (because he got there later) his painting was so far in advance of what was being done that he became a radical pioneer, introducing audiences and artists on both sides of the continent to new visions.

Clapp moved with his family to Cuba from 1915-16 and then to Piedmont, California. He became the director of the Oakland Art Gallery in 1918. In this position and as a member of a group of painters known as the Society of the Six consisting of artists Gile Seldon, Maurice Logan, August Gay, Bernard von Eichman, and Louis Siegriest, he arranged exhibitions of their works from 1923-28. During the 1920s, he experimented with pointillist dabs and broken color and believed that one should paint ''nature as seen, not as it is.'' For six years he operated the Clapp School of Art in Oakland.

Eventually, as other museums and galleries in the San Francisco area began focusing on modernism, the Oakland Art Gallery began to lose its reputation and influence as a leading art institution. He worked at the gallery until 1950 and then part-time until 1952. Although his works did not sell, Clapp continued to paint throughout his life. He died in Oakland on April 21 1954. While his early works reflect the impressionist style of Renoir, his later works are of the pointillist style of Seurat. Clapp is as well known in Canada as he is in the US.


"Untitled Portrait I" Original Pastel by William Henry Clapp

Title: "Untitled" Portraits

Medium: Original Pastels on Paper

Unframed Size: 13.5” x 8.5” each

Framed Size: 18.5” x 24” each

Retail Price: $12,000.00

Asking Price: $4,750.00