Dorsey Potter Tyson Biography

Dorsey Potter Tyson




Printmaker, illustrator, sculptor, and painter Dorsey Potter Tyson, known to his friends as "Petey," was born in Frederick, Maryland, on January 17, 1891. He was raised in Baltimore by his parents, Caleb Dorsey and Lillian Potter Tyson, where it appears he would spend the majority of his life. Despite a prolific and varied artistic career, there is no catalogue raisonne for his work and there seems to be very little documentation of his work. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1911 with a degree in law while working for the Title Guarantee and Trust Co. During World War I he was stationed in Camp Upton, New York and in Hoboken, New Jersey, serving as a field clerk from 1917 to 1919. Following the war, he and his wife Caroline "Kitty" Polk moved to the Upper West Side, New York, and divided their time between there are Baltimore for a couple of years. They would eventually settle in Baltimore and Tyson would work for the Investment Registry of America, Inc.

Early works by Tyson date to the mid 1920s, which include urban architectural etchings and Ex Libris. By the late 1920s he had begun developing the style he would be most recognized for, the color etchings of Asian - predominantly Chinese - figures, verging on the fantastical. He was no doubt inspired by Elyse Ashe Lord, who had earlier begun to develop the techniques that resembled watercolors in their delicacy and intricate design. By 1930, census listed Tyson as an engraver. His fine art works continued through the late 1930s, but from World War II onward his career is spotty. An avid Airedale Terrier dog breed enthusaiast, he was involved with show dog events and he would illustrate various articles for Poodle Showcase magazine in the 1960s. 

Dorsey Potter Tyson died in Baltimore City, Maryland, on October 1, 1969. A more in depth article on the artist's life and career can be found on the Eastern Impressions blog.