Clifford Isaac Addams Biography

Clifford Isaac Addams




Painter and printmaker Clifford Isaac Addams was born in 1876 in Woodbury, New Jersey, on May 25th. Despite the offer of a position at the family woolens business, he enrolled at Philadelphia’s Drexel Institute of Technology, and began an apprenticship with an architect. He then went on to study at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts where in 1899, at the age of 23, he won an $800 Cresson Traveling Scholarship to study abroad; in Addams’ case, in Paris. There he began studying painting. In a move that would cement his professional course in the art world, he was granted admission into the Académie Carmen, a school founded in the same year by James McNeill Whistler. Despite Whistler’s reputation as an unpredictable and difficult instructor, whose students often left the school after only a brief time, Addams was greatly inspired by him and remained a student of Whistler’s after the school closed in 1901. It was also at the Académie Carmen that Addams met fellow student and artist Inez Bate; they wed in 1900.  
Addams traveled extensively throughout Europe in the early 20th century, including many of the places favored by Whistler and other leading printmakers of the time: Amsterdam, Dordrecht, Dieppe, Venice, and so on. In 1909 a he briefly considered moving his family, now with four children, to the United States. A brief return to his homeland, however, left him disheartened, and he abandoned the idea, moving instead from London to Hampstead Garden Suburb. Meanwhile, he continued to exhibit and sell in Great Britain. The onset of World War I in August 1914 lead him to join the Royal Navy, and he remained active until the end of the war in 1919 when he was finally discharged, with a stipend of ₤30, and a small cache of pastels he’d drawn of battles, ships, and seascapes, which he later refused to exhibit. The next year, he returned permanently to the United States, without Inez or their four children. Other than a visit from one of his sons in 1942, his family would not see him again.
Addams eventually settled in Greenwich Village, in New York City. There, he quickly became a part of the American art scene. His eye for architecture and cityscapes now lend a small historic chronicling of the Manhattan skyline and the neighborhoods Addams frequented. He exhibited widely for a time, including the Corcoran Gallery; the Chicago, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn Etchers societies; the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and others. In addition, he became a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Philadelphia Society of Etchers (of whom he eventually became President), and the Society of American Etchers. Addams remarried, briefly, to Lillian Curtis-Goode in 1932. He died in his studio in Greenwich Village in November 1942.