Watercolor, 14.5 x 20.5 inches
Benson was born in Salem, Massachesetts, and the son of a China trade sea captain. While still in his teens, Benson began and sketching and painting birds that he encountered while exploring the marshes around Salem. Although expressing misgivings about his son’s elected career path, he allowed him to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and later financed a trip to Paris, France for his 21st birthday. While in France, Benson studied under Gustave-Rodolphe Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre at the Academie Julian and spent some time in the Village of Concarneau, Brittany. After returning from abroad, he pursued portrait painting; however, circa 1913, gamebirds and waterfowl were becoming a greater portion of his subject matter. In 1906 Benson placed a human figure in one of his sporting works, the first believed to do so. Benson, who also pursued genre painting, was a founding member of the “The Ten American Painters” (“The Ten”) in 1898, along with Joseph DeCamp, Thomas Dewing, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Robert Reid, Edward Simmons, Edward Tarbell, John Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir. “The Ten” formed in order to collectively exhibit their Impressionistic style of painting, a style that the Society of American Artists did not support. Benson was one of the first American artists to combine the figure with the Impressionist landscape. In 1935 was he was asked to design the second of the Federal Duck Stamps. Benson received medals for exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Philadelphia Watercolor Society; the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL, in 1893; the Paris Exposition in 1900; the Pan- American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, in 1901; the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, MO, in 1904; and the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, England; the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, PA; the Boston Art Club; and the Society of American Artists and the American Watercolor Society.