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McKnight Kauffer: the early years (continued)

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

McKnight Kauffer Musings

The Early Years (continued)

Today, I am posting two stories about McKnight Kauffer – the early years.

In his seminal monograph E McKnight Kauffer: a designer and his public, first published in 1979, the author Mark Haworth-Booth was fortunate to have met and corresponded with people who were friends with Kauffer himself. When I set out on my PhD I checked out every endnote in Mark’s book, admiring the rigour shown in researching the book over a 12-year period. My aim is to demonstrate the same level of rigour, but to share new information not revealed or published elsewhere. This may not be very exciting for the general reader, but for those interested in the life and work of E McKnight Kauffer the posts will add a new dimension to the existing narrative.

The information has been gleaned from contemporary newspaper reports, and letters to his parents who lived in Evansville, Indiana. Indeed the local Evansville newspapers published numerous stories about McKnight Kauffer’s progress over many years. I suspect his mother provided them with many of the stories.

The story of how Edward Kauffer received funds from a generous benefactor, Professor Joseph McKnight, enabling him to make a study period in Paris is well recorded (see pp. 10-11 Haworth-Booth). On 25 August 1912 an article appeared in the Evansville Journal with this bold headline.

He originally intended to go to Europe in September 1912 but was persuaded by Theodore Keane,

an artist friend he had met in San Francisco, to attend classes at The Chicago Art Institute (see McKnight Kauffer: Musings 2). In October 1912 he visited his mother and step-father in Evansville - in a local newspaper article Kauffer claimed that “The Chicago Art Institute ranks with some of the best studios in Paris for perfection of work and is rapidly taking a position alongside the great ateliers of the old country”.

Alongside the article the newspaper printed a rather embarrassing photograph of a young Edward Kauffer, probably supplied by his mother. See below

This is the earliest portrait of
Edward Kauffer I have found.
Circa 1906

The photograph contrasts with a description published in a 1916 Evansville newspaper article discussing his formative achievements in England, exhibiting with the London Group.

The writer, perhaps an admirer of Kauffer, wrote this gushing description of his demeanor as she remembered him.

The next posts in this vein will be about his steamer crossing from New York (not Baltimore) to

Algiers with Samuel Linder, and subsequent period of time in Europe



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