Joseph Woodwell (1842-1911)
Farmhouse at Scalp Level, n.d.
Oil on canvas, 20" x 30"
Collection of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA
Gift of the Mary Marchand Woods Memorial Fund, 1959.24

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Joseph R. Woodwell (1843-1911)
Born in New York City to a well-known wood carver, Joseph Woodwell moved to Pittsburgh in 1847, when his father opened a hardware firm on the corner of Wood Street and Second Avenue. At an early age, Joseph began painting and presenting work in his community. It seemed only natural that, when he became a young man, his father sent him to France to study art and along the way he spent time in Venice and Rome. Returning to Pittsburgh, he studied under that city's two best known artists, George Hetzel and David Gilmour Blythe.

As a member of the Scalp Level School, Woodwell approached his subject matter in a slightly different way, favoring the more prominent inclusion of human figures and architecture in his work. Yet, he painted in a typical Barbizon style, meaning he had a poetic feeling for the color, lighting and atmosphere in his paintings. Combining the brushstrokes of the Impressionists with the standard brown-sized canvases resulted in a rather blurred image and dark tonality in most of his paintings.

Woodwell became friends with Andrew Carnegie, and the industrialist-turned-philanthropist appointed Woodwell to the board of trustees of his new museum. When he died on May 30, 1911 at the age of 68, the Carnegie Institute's Board of Trustees made the following note of Woodwell's passing: "In his early manhood he studied painting under the best masters in Paris and after thus developing his talents, returned home and established a studio, where he produced pictures of marine and landscape scenes which won a great deal of admiration and praise. Dividing his time almost equally between the pursuit of business and the fascination of his art, it was his good fortune to win success in both fields of endeavor."

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