Media File
Benjamin West Clinedinst
Date: American artist and illustrator, 1859–1931
Biography: American magazine and book illustrator and painter, known for portraits, still life, genre and landscape painting. Born Woodstock, Virginia. Influenced by his father who had been a Confederate soldier, and with early schooling in Staunton, set out for military career. In 1876 he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute, but eyesight problems ended military aspirations. However, he graduated, and also took instruction at the Maryland Institute of Art with Hugh Newell.

Then on the advice of Frederick Dielman, he went to Paris to study abroad from 1881 to 1885. He was a student at Leon Bonnat's atelier, and in Ecole des Beaux Arts with Alexandre Cabanel. In 1884, he exhibited in the Paris Salon, and his painting, Peace, was purchased by French government.

Upon his return to America, he was briefly in New York City, and then joined parents in Baltimore. He taught at the Charcoal Club, an organization in existence from 1888 to 1970, which provided sessions for drawing from nude models, activity regarded as inappropriate for art schools by many Baltimore residents. At this time Clinedinst began painting genre scenes and also began a long-time focus on depicting American Colonial history in his paintings.

In 1888 he married Emily Waters, and the couple moved to New York City, where Clinedinst got a teaching job at the Gotham Art School. In 1889 he began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design and was elected Associate. By 1896 he was temporarily removed from that status because of failing to keep to Academy exhibition commitments. Then he became a founder of the Society of Illustrators.

During the 1890s, Clinedinst, in addition to his career as an educator, was a prolific illustrator and portrait painter. He worked for Scribner's and Century magazines; illustrated books for Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. Among his portrait subjects were Theodore Roosevelt, Commodore Matthew Perry and Mark Twain.

In 1900 he began commuting to Philadelphia where he replaced Howard Pyle as the Director of Illustration at Drexel Institute. However, wearied of the travel, in several years he took a similar job in New York at Cooper Union, a position he held for the next 30 years. Also, the National Academy of Design members lifted their ban on his suspension, and from 1898 to 1901, he served on the governing council.

Clinedinst and his family moved to Pawling, New York in 1905 where he lived until his death in 1931.