William Holbrook Beard


Artist Biography:

William Holbrook Beard was born in 1825 in Painesville, Ohio. He was a prolific American painter of the 19th century, perhaps best known today for his famous satirical images in which bears became symbolic replacements for human beings. Beard had an elder brother, James Henry Beard, who had some considerable artistic influence over him, though he was essentially self-taught as an artist. He travelled in Europe in the 1850s, where he met and was inspired by other significant American artists, including Albert Bierstadt and Emanuel Leutze. On his return to the United States, he settled in New York and for the rest of his life he made a successful living as a commercial artist, travelling at times around America to expand his range. He is best known today for his famous painting, 'The Bear Dance', which depicts bears, who had become symbolic as prudent financial investors (as in "bear market"), dancing to celebrate a successful day in business. The painting was originally owned by The Strangers Club in New York City. A companion piece of sorts exists, with the title 'The Bulls and Bears in the Market', which is set in Broad Street, New York, in front of the New York Stock Exchange and with Wall Street in the distance.

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