Barse Miller (1904-1973)
Born: New York City
Studied: National Academy of Design, New York, NY, with Henry B. Snell;
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, with Henry Breckenridge; awarded two Cresson Traveling Scholarships; Guggenheim Fellowship.
Member: National Academy of Design; Philadelphia Watercolor Club; Foundation of Western Art; California Water Color Society; Laguna Beach Art Association; American Watercolor Society; Salmagundi Club; North Shore Art Association; Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Taught: Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA; The Art Center School, Los Angeles, CA; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; University of Vermont, Burlington, VT; Queens College, Queens, NY.
Barse Miller was born in New York on January 24, 1904. His father, Warren Hastings Miller, was a writer of sea stories and an editor of Field and Stream magazine, and his mother, Susan Barse Miller, was a painter. Miller’s parents sent enrolled him in the art school at the National Academy of Design when he was eleven years old. He then moved on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he worked with High Breckenridge, Arthur B. Carles and Henry McCarter. In 1922 Miller was awarded the Cresson Travelling Scholarship, which allowed him to spend two years in Europe. While in France he showed his work at the Salon d’Automne in 1923. When he returned to America in 1924, he settled in Los Angeles. In 1925 he married the sculptor Mary Elizabeth Smith, whom he had met while a student at the Pennsylvania Academy.
Miller’s early work, which consisted mainly of oils paintings of harbors and coastal areas, was quickly appreciated by the Los Angeles art critics, who especially liked his bold use of color. In 1929 he succeeded Millard Sheets as instructor at the Chouinard School of Art.
During the Depression, Miller began to explore the medium of watercolor painting. He also painted numerous murals in Southern California, and continued to exhibit his oils paintings. Between 1932 and 1942, Miller taught at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. In 1936 he had a large show at the prestigious Ferargil Galleries in New York. He was a member of the California Water Color Society and participated in every show from 1928 to 1940. By 1938 Miller was considered one of the leading figures in the American Scene movement. He sent one of his most important paintings, Migrant America, to the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
During World War II Miller was a special correspondent for Life magazine. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army, and was made chief of the Combat Art Section, Pacific arena until 1946, serving in the Philippines, New Guinea, Japan, and China.
In 1944, Miller was made an Associate of the National Academy of Design, and in 1946 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship. The following year he was promoted to full Academician at the Academy.
After the war Miller settled in New York and began a long career as chairman of the art department at Queens College. He continued to show his work, primarily at the National Academy and the California Water Color Society. Most of his later work was done in New York, Vermont, and Maine. He died on January 22, 1973 while teaching in Mexico.
Barse Miller’s work is in many public collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Denver Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Barse Miller Biography information: D.Wigmore Fine Art