Artist Profile

William and Alberta McCloskey

William – 1859-1941
Alberta – 1863-1911

William McCloskey and Alberta Binford McCloskey were a husband and wife known for both their individual work and their collaborative work.1 William McCloskey attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and studied with Thomas Eakins (1844–1916). Alberta Binford McCloskey was essentially self-taught, yet considered by some to be the superior artist of the two. William and Alberta met while both were working as artists in Denver, and they married in 1883. For the next fifteen years, the couple traveled and painted together extensively. They moved to Los Angeles in 1884 and attracted business by hosting open-house parties for prominent people and local artists. Alberta focused her work on flower still life, and William focused his on portraiture.

Early in 1886, the McCloskeys moved to New York City where they opened a studio and garnered a reputation for their technical expertise, eliciting positive reviews for their work exhibited at the National Academy of Design. It was during this period that each expanded their oeuvre, William adding still life and Alberta adding portraiture. By 1890, Alberta had painted portraits in twenty-seven states. William became known for his paintings of tissue-wrapped oranges, works that today garner high prices in the auction market. In 1891, the McCloskeys moved again, briefly settling in San Francisco, and then moved to London and finally to Paris, where they were invited to exhibit in the Paris Salon. The noted French academic artist Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) visited their studio and wrote a glowing letter of recommendation. By 1897, they were in San Francisco, but they separated later that year, reportedly due to financial troubles.



Works in Our Collection

William and Alberta McCloskey
Untitled (Portrait of an Unknown Woman)
Oil on canvas, 1895
30 x 25 inches
Promised gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure


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