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Myron Barlow

(1873 - 1937)

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Biography

Genre and figure painter Myron G. Barlow, 1873-1937, was born in Ionia, Michigan, and raised in Detroit. His name is associated with that city even though he spent most of his later life in France. Barlow studied with Joseph Gies at the Detroit Museum School and for a year at the Chicago Art Institute, Illinois. Early in his career, he worked as a newspaper artist.

In Paris, at the age of twenty-one, he was noticed by William Bouguereau, the influential teacher and powerful force in 19th-Century French academic painting. Barlow studied with another arch-academicist, Jean-Leon Gerome, and at the Academie Colarossi. He traveled often to Holland, the first time in 1898, where he studied and copied the Dutch masters, especially Vermeer, in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. Like Vermeer, Barlow often painted solitary figures of women in interiors. Barlow moved, around 1900, to the French village of Trepied, near Etaples, a small town south of Boulogne, in the Artois district, making his studio from a peasant house, painting models in his garden against a background of poppies. By 1914, he had become one of the longest-term members of Trepied's expatriate artists' colony.

By the age of twenty-two, Barlow had been awarded his first medal. In 1907, at age thirty-four, he was the only American elected to membership in the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in France. In 1932, the French government awarded Barlow the Legion of Honor.

In 1925, he completed six large murals in the auditorium of Temple Beth El at Woodward and Gladstone in Detroit. Barlow exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, from 1903-1910, and the National Academy of Design, New York City, 1907-1916.

He admired the murals of Piero della Francesca, the great Italian Renaissance master of the 15th Century, and Puvis de Chavannes, a 19th Century French painter of idealized figures in landscape harking back to Ancient Greece. Barlow, aware of inferior quality paint that was causing the works of artists like James McNeill Whistler to fade, embarked on a study of pigments, eventually grinding and fabricating his own paint in order to achieve permanence.

A painting well-known at the time of his death, "The Cup of Tea", is in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Barlow had left Detroit, in May 1937, to return to France, intending to sell his studio and live in Detroit. But, he died in France in August 1937.