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Cortland Butterfield was one of the leading portrait artists of his time. The subjects of his naturalistic works in watercolors and oils ranged from people he met in his daily life to performing artists, including luminaries such as Pablo Casals and Margot Fonteyn. Always fascinated by faces, he used the sketches he had made as an art student in Greenwich Village as the basis for his well-known paintings of rabbis. An outgoing individual, he was very generous in helping other artists in the New Hope area. He also helped found the American Opera Repertory Company, and later donated his portrait of Pablo Casals to the music school. Family members served as a great inspiration to him. An uncle who performed as a clown in an English circus was the start of his many clown paintings. His aunt, Carrie Butterfield, was a landscape painter who sparked his interest in painting at the age of nine and encouraged his painting efforts throughout his youth. With a painting technique rooted in the tradition of the Spanish Masters such as Velasquez, Goya, and El Greco, Cortland Butterfield established himself as a modern master of the portrait.
Photograph of Cortland Butterfield by Jack Rosen. Image courtesy of the James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Cooper Union, New York, New York, 1920s (night classes for five years)
Academie des Beaux Arts, Paris, France, two years (dates unknown)
Art Students League, New York, New York
Teachers and Influences
His aunt, Carrie Butterfield, a landscape painter and an uncle who was a performing clown
Spanish painters Velasquez, Goya, and El Greco
Victor Perrard, an instructor at Cooper Union
Connection to Bucks County
A New Hope resident from 1964 to 1977, Butterfield exhibited locally at the Golden Door Gallery. He painted people he met in his daily life in New Hope and he painted performers. To him, New Hope had a "mood" and was a "state of mind". Butterfield was involved with arts in the community and was a colleague and mentor to many New Hope artists. He lived on Stoney Hill Road in New Hope and had his studio in a separate building on South Main Street. After his death, an exhibition was organized at the Golden Door Gallery, called In Memorium-Cortland Butterfield, 1904-1977, along with works of art by thirteen New Hope artists and friends. There was also a memorial concert performed by the American Reperatory Company at Gerenser Hall.
Cortland Butterfield. Photo by Jack Rosen. Courtesy of the James A. Michener Art Museum.
Major Solo Exhibitions
One Man Show, Golden Door Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1968
Major Group Exhibitions
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1931
Montclair Museum, Montclair, New Jersey
In Memorium-Cortland Butterfield-1904 to 1977, Golden Door Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1977
The Human Figure, Bucks County Council on the Arts, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1981
Christmas Show, Cortland Butterfield and Joseph Crilley, Genest Gallery, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1991
American Music Academy, New York, New York
Croninn Lowndes Gallery, New York, New York
Leger Gallery, New York, New York
Lewin Gallery, California
Morton Gallery, New York, New York
P. Jackson Higgs, New York, New York
Valentine Gallery, New York, New York
Werlin Lang, New York, New York
Joan Crawford, Joey Adams, Hugh Downs, Peter Sellers, among others
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Academy of Arts, Newark, New Jersey
Montclair School of Fine and Commercial Arts, Montclair, New Jersey
Affiliations and Memberships
Butterfield was the co-Founder, with David Montfiore, of the American Opera Repertory Company, New York. Butterfield donated a painting of Pablo Casals to the music school there.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Artists Tom Galbraith, Sandra Blumberg, David Amedeo, Antonio Autorino, Jim Groody, Ray Halacy, John Long, Robert Rosenwald, Nancy Shaw, Jack Rosen, Cynthia Wuthrich, among others
Sandra Blumberg was his student for many years and helped organize an exhibition for Butterfield at the Genest Gallery in Lambertville, New Jersey in 1991.