century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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William H. Beard


Centurion, 1866–1900

Full Name William Holbrook Beard

Born 13 April 1824 in Painesville, Ohio

Died 20 February 1900 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by Freeman J. Fithian and Launt Thompson

Elected 2 June 1866 at age forty-two

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Among the older artists who have been before the public for many years was William H. Beard, a character painter of animals, since 1862 an academician of the National Academy of Design, and for thirty-four years a member of The Century. A simple-hearted, generous soul, devoted and loyal to his friends and gifted with a genial, sly humor, which found expression in his work. No man could more faithfully express human attributes or satirize human foibles in the portrayal of animals than he, and it was done with such technical cleverness, and in such a pleasing, delicate vein, that it caught the popular fancy and made him an original master in his style. Indeed, he seemed to carry in his own person the spirit of his work. No one who saw him upon the festive occasions here would fail to recognize in his natural rolling gait, picturesque personality and the humorous twinkle of his eye, the inspiration of his pictures of “Bears on a Bender,” “Bulls and Bears in Wall Street,” “The Speech of Welcome” and the “Bear Dance”; and his reading in mythology was pictured in “Jupiter and Io,” “The March of Silenus” and “Diana and Her Nymphs,” and countless other subjects. He had studied extensively abroad and was prolific in the products of his easel. He was always a welcome addition to any group in The Century, and, although he was saddened by the loss of nearly all his older friends and associates in the Club, he maintained his outward cheerfulness to the last, and bore himself bravely and serenely to the end. He was held in universal esteem, and will long be remembered as a type of those who made the early membership of The Century so familiar, friendly and attractive.

Henry E. Howland
1901 Century Association Yearbook