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William R. Leigh Wall Art

William R. Leigh (1866 –1955) was born at Maidstone Manor Farm, West Virginia in Berkeley County. He was an artist who specialized in Western scenes. He entered the Maryland Institute in 1880, and then attended the Royal Academy in Munich. Leigh returned to the U.S. after 12 years abroad and worked as a magazine illustrator and painted cycloramas. In 1906, the artist traveled to the American West and opened a studio in New York City. Twenty years later, at the invitation of Carl Akeley, he travelled to Africa for the American Museum of Natural History. He had a wonderful experience, and from this adventure he wrote and illustrated a book. His adventures were journalized in a number of popular magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Colliers.

He was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member in 1953 and became a full Academician in 1955. Leigh became deeply-rooted as an illustrator, but both the limited subject matter and the nature of the work made him anxious for new challenges. An opportunity to expand the scope of his work came about in 1906 when he was offered a free passage into the West by the Sante Fe Railroad in exchange for a painting of the Grand Canyon. He accepted the offer and set off through Arizona and New Mexico on a trip that yielded the Grand Canyon piece and five more canvases that the railroad purchased. Leigh became known for painting Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon, but his primary interests were the Navajo and Hopi Indians.
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