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Gifford R. Beal


Centurion, 1913–1956

Full Name Gifford Reynolds Beal

Born 24 January 1879 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 5 February 1956 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Cedar Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Newburgh, New York

Proposed by Paul Dougherty and Ben Foster

Elected 1 February 1913 at age thirty-four

Archivist’s Note: Brother of Reynolds Beal

Proposer of:

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Gifford Beal graduated from Princeton in 1900. He was destined to be a painter, and he had already started his art studies under William M. Chase and at the Art Students League. In the City he lived in an apartment at 27 West Sixty-seventh Street, where there are studios that go up two stories and where a lot of artists live. But most of his painting was done at Rockport, Massachusetts, where he very early established himself. Rockport is on a rocky promontory that runs out into the bay; and the little harbor there has ancient stone piers and weather-beaten fish houses that are used by the schooners and sloops that come in every day with their catch.

Gifford liked the life of the sea: the gulls, the wharfs, the tossing dories, the smell of the salt water; and it greatly inspired him and resulted, over the years, in many distinguished canvases. Sometimes he made trips to Salem, or Marblehead, or Gloucester, and other times he would go to the back country, to Ipswich, or Essex, and sketch. It is a wonderful country, with shipbuilding, fox hunting, the sun flashing on the Plum Island strand, and it was all made for Gilford’s brush. It excited him, and his enthusiasm was contagious.

He was marvellously pleasant. Once in his student days, he went to a party at Chase’s studio in Tenth Street that was given by John Singer Sargent in honor of Carmencita, the famous Spanish dancer. Gifford wanted to meet Sargent, whom he had never seen, and sometime early in the evening he asked: “When is Mr. Sargent going to arrive?” The reply was: “Why, my boy, you’ve been talking with him for the past quarter hour.”

For a long time Beal was President of the Art Students League and labored over the young artists. He was very kind, and they used to come to see him and to get his advice and suggestions. In the Century he was a tower of strength. In 1950 he was given a one-man show in the gallery, and it had the largest opening in the history of the Club. It was a love feast. Everyone was delighted, and Gifford had a perfectly wonderful time. He served on the Committee on Art longer than any Centurion ever, and for fifteen years he was its Chairman. One of his paintings, “Wingesheek Beach,” now hangs in the Billiard Room.

Painters work with their hands, and in this they are fortunate, for they seem to escape the black bile that so often deranges the equanimity of poets and composers—and a good many of the rest of us, too.

George W. Martin
1957 Century Association Yearbook