Date: American painter, illustrator, and muralist, 1868–1955
Biography: James Edwin McBurney (1868 Lore City, Ohio -1955 Chicago) studied in New York at Pratt Institute (1898-1900); at Drexel Institute (Philadelphia) with Howard Pyle (1899-1900) and then at Pyle's Wilmington DE school from 1901 to 1903. He worked as an illustrator during his studies with Pyle. He then went to Paris where he enrolled in the Academies Colarossi and Castelucho. In 1908, he studied landscape painting with John H. Twachtman in Connecticut.
From 1909 until 1913 McBurney taught high school art in Los Angeles, and gave private art lessons. One of his students was California artist Mable Alvarez. He also conducted art classes at Laguna Beach, which along with other artists' summer classes helped develop the art colony at Laguna Beach.
In 1919 McBurney taught briefly at the American Expeditionary Forces University in Beaune, France, and then went to Chicago, where he painted murals. Working there until his death on March 2, 1955, he founded an art school, was Art Director for the Chicago Art District and for the City Parks and Recreation, and was active in the WPA. He founded the James E. McBurney School of Art in Chicago. From 1923 to 1926 he was also director of the School Department of the Art Institute of Peoria, Illinois.
As McBurney's work as a mural painter began to demand more of his time, he left teaching and devoted himself solely to mural work. In Chicago, his murals are in the Palmer Park Field House, Woodlawn National Bank, Parkside School, Wentworth School, Scott School, and Tilden Technical School. Others are at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the State Agricultural Expo Building in Dubuque, Iowa.
Two of his numerous murals received silver medals at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
A Small School of Art. Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes (eds.). Delaware Art Museum. 1980