In 1979, a year before his sudden death, Richard Seyffert painted some spectacular scenery. He exhibited his work in his second show at the National Arts Club (in the Gregg Galleries) in New York. He lived in the club and had worked there since the early 1950’s. In his 4th floor duplex he painted portraits of ladies but mostly gentlemen in the peaks of their careers. He too was at a peak in his career when he suffered a fatal heart attack on the street in front of his home in 1979. His travel paintings are not touristic notes but instead a product of a worldly lifetime. He was the son of a successful painter, known for portraits, Leopold Seyffert (1887-1956). His artist parents divorced and his mother, Helen Fleck, moved to Europe, making Leopold Jr. a traveler at a young age. He and his brother Peter first went to boarding school near Geneva at Chataigneraie School. Following that he attended the National Academy School in New York. He visited his mother several times in Senlis, France where she had purchased and renovated a “manoir” within the town. In the 1930’s he purchased a camera and began photographing the people and places around him - this leading to his being a navy photographer’s mate in WW2. After the war he settled into a career in New York but in those years he increasingly had a sense of wanderlust that kept him speaking French and travelling some. Helen Fleck married print dealer Jean Goriany whom she met in Geneva. They lived in Senlis but a new job for Goriany took them to Lima, Peru. So in the early 1950’s Richard Seyffert too moved to Peru where he painted portraits and took photographs. His departure from New York was also brought on by his increasing need to not be under the wing of his famous father, whose second marriage and increasing drinking, was physically and emotionally distracting. He returned to New York in the late 1950’s, married, and continued his portrait career. He and his wife, Beverly, bought and renovated several Connecticut homes, living in them and in his studio in New York. When she died of cancer in 1964 he moved solely to New York. In the late 60’s he began teaching at the Art Students League (left) and until his death he developed a huge following of students. It was during this time that he began seriously painting landscapes. He married again, this time to Valerie Hopkins and travelled regularly with her to the Caribbean and out west. He drew great inspiration from the paintings of Albert Marquet. While his style appears effortless, it actually comes from careful observation and a lifetime of painting. Then lack of “angst” could be intentional, as Richard Seyffert was a confident, gentle man. The island of St. Bart’s became an inspirational subject for Seyffert. He painted there several years and purchased land on which to build a house. There was little vacation for Seyffert during trips to beautiful places and though he was surrounded by other recreations he instead went off to work on his own. He found solace in his one on one with the natural world and most of all with its color. Color notes were the greatest message in his work and his paintings bare legacy to a few hours of his life in one place.
LEOPOLD SEYFFERT Estelle Winwood, Actress 1919 Oil on canvas
Here Winwood is dressed for her part in "Moliere's- A Romantic Comedy in Three Acts.
She moved to the U.S. in 1916 and made her Broadway début in New York City. Until the beginning of the 1930s, she divided her time between New York City and London. Throughout her career, her first love was the theatre; and, as the years passed, she appeared less frequently in London and became a frequent performer on Broadway, appearing in such plays as A Successful Calamity (1917), A Little Journey (1918), Spring Cleaning (1923), The Distaff Side (1934), The Importance of Being Earnest (which she also directed, 1939), When We Are Married (1939), Ladies in Retirement (1940), The Pirate(1942), Ten Little Indians (1944), Lady Windermere's Fan (1947), and The Madwoman of Chaillot (1948).
At the heart of the these three careers is the artists' devotion to oil painting and working from life. All art work shown here is about drawing with paint and modeling with color, creating a painting that's like a huge sticky note in that artists life. Each piece is an individual part of that time in the painter's life - a day or a week- made to be a place or a person of note. All three artists were trained in American Schools- mostly at the Pennsylvania Academy, the National Academy and the Parsons School of Design. Leopold's influences were predominately from a European tradition, Richard's from the American and European realists and Robert's from both American contemporary art and the European tradition
Leopold Seyffert painted Estelle Winwood in New York during her run of the Moliere play. Her necklace in the photo and dress are the same as the painting and her "hat hair" corresponds with the various hats she wore in the play.
LEOPOLD, RICHARD AND ROBERT SEYFFERT
Welcome to a visual arts potpourri showing the paintings and lives of three generations of artists spanning the 20th century and into the 21st. Leopold, Richard and Robert Seyffert, grandfather, nephew and grandson are three New York artists who painted representationaly, exhibited, and taught. Today Robert Seyffert maintains a studio in the South Bronx. Follow the links on the menu above or scroll through the paintings below to see past and present through the works of this family of artists