19th Anniversary

Antiques & Fine Art 149 2019 eon Kelly (1901–1982) was the only child of Elizabeth and Pantaleon L. Kelly. When in h is t went ie s, h is pa rent s’ unhappy marriage ended, and his father’s business as a tailor dissolved. Kelly worked to support his mother and grandmother while also pursuing his dream as an artist. A gifted draftsman, Kelly earned a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, the premier art school in the country. His artwork from the PAFA years had a distinct academic flavor. After graduating from PAFA in 1924, Kelly was granted a fellowship that allowed him to travel to Paris, where he studied the Old Masters, Titian, Rubens, Tintoretto, and Velasquez, among others. During this early period, Kelly’s style became less rigid, transmuting to Impressionism and then subsequently to a Post- Impressionist mode. His works show evidence of his influence from the French artists he admired, and he portrayed villages and landscapes with a visible European sensibility; the broken brush strokes, the melding of colors, and even the perspective ref lected the French masters, yet there was a discernible individuality solely that of Leon Kelly’s. While Kelly would utilize the Old-World methodologies throughout his career to suit his own vision, from the middle to late 1920s, Kelly’s work explored the dissolution of form and color while remaining faithful to the overall concept of his subject. Whether landscape, interior with figure, still life or group, his works were a master of perspective, juxtaposition and balance. In the 1930s, he exhibited in Philadelphia and was connected with the avant-garde group aligned to the colorist Arthur Beecher Carles. Albert Barnes, the collector and patron of the arts, admired Kelly’s work and helped finance him through some difficult times. Julian Levy, a prominent art dealer in New York also took note of Kelly and showed his work in his gallery during the 1940s and 1950s. Through his presence at Levy’s gallery, Kelly became acquainted with such established artists as Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Pavel Tchelitchew, Eugene Berman, and other artists who would become well known, such as Joseph Leon Kelly (1901–1982), Gigantic Umbrella, 1940. Oil on canvas, 51 x 24 inches.