Ralph Curtis

Ralph Wormeley Curtis (1854-1922) American painter, was Boston born and a graduate of Harvard. He eventually lived in Europe and was a painter of portraits, genres, and interiors.

Born into a prominent Boston family, after Harvard in 1878 at the age of twenty-four, Ralph Wormeley Curtis went to Europe with his family. They eventually set up their primary residence in Venice on the Grand Canal buying part of the Palazzo Barbaro. It would be here that he would do most of his painting and would find himself at the center of a cosmopolitan circles of artists including Isabella Stewart Gardner, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Vernon Lee, and of course his cousin and friend: John Singer Sargent.

He joined Carolus-Duran’s atelier and studied at the Academe Julian under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre.

Between 1881 and 1893, he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon, eventually winning an honorable mention at the Paris Exposition Universal of 1889.

In 1897, he married his wife (Lisa de Wolfe Colt) and settled in the Maritime Alps, though often returing to Venice and his parent’s palazzo. He, like Sargent, traveled all over Europe and painted where he went, but wasn’t nearly as successful. From what I can gather (so far) Curtis didn’t really make a living off his paintings. Independently wealthy he was an gentleman artist.

The influence of Sargent on Ralph’s art was significant. One can see the two working on similar subjects.