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Paul Sawyier

1865 - 1917

Paul Sawyier was born on March 23, 1865 in Madison County, Ohio to Nathaniel J. and Ellen Wingate Sawyier. He was not the only Sawyier in his family to take brush in hand at the easel.   His father was an amateur and his sister, Natalie became a professional painter.  Nathaniel Sawyier moved the family to Frankfort about 1870. Frankfort had been the home of both, Nathaniel and Ellen when they were children. Sawyier attended Second Street School and the Dudley Institute during his formative years in Frankfort. Elizabeth Hutchins, a Cincinnati artist was employed to give lessons to the Sawyier children. During 1884, Paul attended the Cincinnati Art Academy.  There he studied under Thomas S. Nobel, a known Kentucky artist. Using crayon, he began to paint portraits to supplement his income.  Returning to Frankfort in 1886, Sawyier went to work at the Kentucky River Mill as a hemp salesman.   A year later he gave up his job at the factory to paint scenes around Frankfort.  His Old Covered Bridge series became popular when the bridge was closed in the winter of 1893.Sawyier moved to New York in 1889 and lived with his sister, Lillian and her family. He began to study watercolors under William Merritt Chase at the Arts Students League.  Then returning to Cincinnati in 1890, Paul studied oils under the Frank Duveneck, a well known Kentucky portrait painter.  Sawyier moved back to Frankfort and shared a studio with photographer, Henry G. Mattern.  During this period he concentrated on landscapes, painting in oil, pastels and watercolors.   Paul purchased a houseboat on the Kentucky River for his studio, which doubled as his home.  He traveled up and down the river painting and selling his paintings.  In 1913 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and again made his home with his sister, Lillian.  There he was commissioned by New York art dealer, Edward Jackson.  He moved to the Catskill Mountains and then to Fleischmann, New York where he died on November 4, 1917 and was buried. In June of 1923, Sawyier's remains were moved from Fleischmann, New York to the Frankfort Cemetery.

Paul Sawyier's work is best known in Kentucky, especially to Frankfort and Franklin County.  Many households in the city and county own at least one Sawyier print.




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