Howard Russell BUTLER

Howard Russell BUTLER

An American artist, described by Stanhope FORBES at the opening of the Newlyn Art Gallery as having given the local artists a vast amount of useful information and advice on the establishment of the scheme for working in the new Gallery.  The exhibition plan hit upon, which they had carried out, ‘was not their own invention; it had been carried out with great success in New York, where a large institution was similarly managed.’ It is clear that the informant was Howard Russell Butler (name mis-spelt as ‘Buller’ in newspaper report).

Butler was the first President and founder of the American Fine Arts Society, and was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1902. Born in New York City, he studied at Princeton and Columbia Universities. In 1882, he graduated from law school at Columbia University and practised in New York City, but was unhappy with that career and turned to the development of his painting talents.

In 1884, he and Frederick E Church opened a studio in Mexico. He then studied at the New York Art Students League, and in Paris and Concarneau (at the same time as Jules BASTIEN-LEPAGE) where he became active in the American artist colony. Focusing primarily on colour and light, he painted in the French countryside in a loose, impressionistic style, and one of his painting companions was John Singer SARGENT.

By 1886, he had arrived in West Cornwall, staying first with Edward Emerson SIMMONS and Vesta S SIMMONS in St Ives, and then found a studio of his own overlooking Porthmeor Beach. He was engaged on a large seascape at the time (which subsequently received an Honourable Mention at the Paris Salon). Butler was keen on outdoor sport, and was a dedicated member of the St Ives side of the Annual Cricket match between Newlyn and St Ives. Leaving in October for a brief return to the States, he then spent time in Paris and Spain before returning to St Ives in 1887.


Painter of landscapes and solar eclipses

works and access

Works Include: Arizona Badlands (1918); Solar Eclipse (1923), Solar eclipse at Lampoc, California (1925);  Eclipse at Middletown, Connecticut ;

Access to works: The Tucson Museum has a large collection of his desert pastels, many of which were painted in the Mojave Desert of California

St Ives Town Council have Horses Being Saddled (oil on canvas) in their collection.


Paris Salon 1886 (Honorable Mention); 

Buffalo Fine Arts Academy 1908

The California Coast New York's Century Club


American Fine Arts Society (first President and Founder)

National Academy of Design (Elected 1902)




Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall;

Jacobs Good and Simple Life (Bibl)

Badcock's Historical Sketch (1896) St Ives and District;

Mallett's Index (lg bibl)

Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership p135

Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History

Whybrow (1994) St Ives