Benton Murdoch Spruance Biography

Benton Murdoch Spruance




Benton Murdoch Spruance was born on June 5, 1904 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Graphic Sketch Club.

In both his junior and his senior years at the Academy, he won the William Emlen Cresson Travelling Scholarship, which enabled him to go to France.  In Paris he tried his hand at lithography for the first time at the studio of Jacques and Edmond Desjobert.  This was in 1928, the beginning of his career as an artist.  Also in 1928 he married Winnifred Glover, a source of strength and inspiration throughout his life

From 1934 he taught at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts., where he taught both printmaking and art history. Spruance continued to make lithographs and to concentrate on experiments in methods and techniques.  In this sense he was something of a pioneer, especially in his experiments in the use of color.

He was a long-term faculty member and Chairman of the Arts Department at Beaver College in Glenside, PA, as well as Chairman of the Printmaking Department of the Philadelphia College of Art. Along with his colleagues Jerome Kaplan and Samuel Maitin, he helped establish Prints in Progress, a program designed to bring printmaking directly to the young people of Philadelphia’s public schools through demonstrations in which they could participate.  Conceived by Walter L. Wolf, the program was then under the auspices of the Philadelphia Print Club.

Overall, Spruance created 536 lithographs out of a total oeuvre of 555 recorded prints; between 1928 and 1939 alone he produced some 177 lithographs.

Benton Spruance died on December 6, 1967 in Philadelphia, PA