Adam Emory Albright (1862 – 1957) received his first formal art instruction in 1881 at the recently organized *Art Institute of Chicago. Here he studied under Henry Fenton Spread and *John Vanderpoel, primarily drawing from plaster casts and models. In 1883, Albright went to Philadelphia to enroll in the *Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and attend the classes of the great realist *Thomas Eakins. There, Albright won a fellowship, improved his ability in figure drawing, and may have learned to make use of *photography in addition to sketching. He was already motivated toward meticulous *realism when he went to Munich to study under the expatriate from Wisconsin, Carl von Marr, in 1887. Albright’s training came to a conclusion in Paris during the academic year of 1887-88 under *Benjamin Constant.
Albright was in Paris at a time when impressionism was becoming an important international style, but it is doubtful that he was influenced by the new French aesthetic at that date. Back in Chicago in 1888, he moved first to Edison Park and then to Hubbard Woods, a *picturesque northern suburb of the Windy City. Eventually, he built a log-type home and studio, where he worked for the remainder of his career. Albright exhibited Morning Glories at Chicago’s famous *World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, an event that marked the beginning of public acceptance of impressionism. It was probably not until the late 1890s, or about the time of his first one-artist show at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900, that his palette brightened and other characteristics of impressionism influenced his style.
Ivan LeLorraine Albright was born to Adam and his wife in 1897. One of three sons, he was destined to become more famous than his father. Continuing to exhibit at important shows such as the *Carnegie International and the Pennsylvania Academy annuals, as well as in the Midwest, Albright Sr. kept amassing credentials from the turn of the century onward. In addition to several well-received one-artist shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, he won the Cahn Prize in 1903 and the Grower Prize in 1907. He was a member of the prestigious *Salmagundi Club and a life member of the *New York Water Color Club.
Albright was diverse in his use of media and won praise for his oils and watercolors alike. Conversely, however, he was very selective in his *subject matter; in fact, he became known as a specialist in the painting of children. Though not a Hoosier, some called him "the James Whitcomb Riley of the brush" owing to his charming depictions of children at play in rural settings. By the first decade of the twentieth century, Albright had readily adopted the kind of *high-keyed palette and spontaneous brushwork of impressionism in this kind of subject matter. Since he liked to pose children in landscapes, Albright produced some excellent sunbathed scenes with children playing as freely and spontaneously as his expressive brushwork. These colorful works appealed to juries and the public alike. He traveled throughout New England and California, as well as the Midwest, for scenes in which to pose his adolescent subjects, frequently his own children. Albright never adhered to a typical impressionistic system of juxtaposed strokes of pigment, but he did put sunshine and colorful luminosity into his work. He was active throughout the Depression years and remained in the Chicago area for the balance of his career. In 1953, Lakeside Press of Chicago published For Art’s Sake by Adam Emory Albright.