Leon Kroll Biography

Leon Kroll




Painter and printmaker Leon Kroll was born in New York City on December 6, 1884. In the late 1890s he studied at the Art Students League under John Henry Twatchman and, after receiving a scholarship to study in Europe in 1908, he traveled throughout Belgium, Holland, and Germany before settling in Paris to study at the Academie Julian with Jean Paul Laurens. He held his first solo exhibition in 1910 at the National Academy of Design, and in 1913 he participated in the inagural New York Armory Show, where he sold every piece he mounted. 

Kroll established himself first as a figurative painter, known for classical nudes and portraiture. In 1917, at the encouragement of fellow artists Robert Henri and George Bellows, Kroll visited New Mexico, igniting a new found appreciation for landscape painting. At this time he also found inspiration in the works of Cezanne and began moving away from total classical composition into a more experimental, modern style. 

Among his teaching positions, Kroll taught at the Art Students League and at the Life School of the National Academy of Design, where in 1920 he was nominated Associate member and, in 1927, full Academician. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1930, and in 1932 he was given a one man exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. For much of the 1930s he lived and worked from the summers into fall in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and he continued to exhibit throughout the East Coast, including a retrospective at the Carnegie Institute in 1935 and a solo exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in 1937. He was commissioned to create a World War I mural memorial for the Worcester War Memorial Building; later, he would be commissioned to create a memorial for the Omaha Beach American War Memorial, his only mosaic piece, which was mounted on the ceiling. 

Kroll was a member of the Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers Society; the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Chevalier, 1952); the Boston Art Club; the National Academy of Design (Academician, 1927); the National Arts Club; the National Institute of Arts and Letters; the New Society of Artists; the New Society of Etchers; the New York Society of Etchers; the Philadelphia Art Club; the Salmagundi Club; and the Society of Independent Artists. Among the awards earned was the Art Institute of Chicago's Purchase Prize (1919); the National Academy of Design Thomas E. Clark Prize (1921); the Pennsylvania Academy of Art (gold medal, 1920s); first prize, Pan-American Exposition, Baltimore (1931); first prize, Carnegie International (1936) among many others. He was active at the Byrdcliffe artists' colony in Woodstock in 1906, continuing his association with the colony through the 1920s. 

Kroll's work is held in the collections of museums and galleries throught the U.S., including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Kroll died in Gloucester, MA, in 1974.