Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973) was an influential teacher and author as well as one of the most decorated and prolific Pennsylvania Impressionist artists. For more than thirty years he regularly exhibited his watercolors, drawings, and oil paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery, the National Academy of Design, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Born in the British colony of Mauritius, Leith-Ross first immigrated to his grandparents’ castle in Scotland, and later moved to the United States.
His early career endeavors took Leith-Ross on a very circuitous path. He studied engineering, worked for his uncle’s coal-mining business, and pursued an advertising and commercial art career with a printing and engraving company. In 1909, he traveled to Paris to study painting, which would become his life’s work.
After study in Europe, Leith-Ross moved to New York and began to exhibit his paintings at the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work from this period demonstrates bold broken brushwork and thick, rich impasto. It was during this time that he met John Folinsbee, a noted painter of the Pennsylvania Impressionist school. Leith-Ross moved to Pennsylvania in 1935, where he quickly became an integral member of the New Hope arts community, settling with his wife in Solebury.
Leith-Ross became renowned for his vibrant, carefully composed oil paintings for his transparent watercolor technique in the tradition of eighteenth-century.
Organized by the Michener Art Museum, this retrospective exhibition included a full range of oil paintings and watercolors, as well as a selection of his exquisite drawings and was accompanied by a major publication authored by Michener curator Erika Jaeger-Smith.