1887: June 1, James Henry Daugherty is born in Asheville, North Carolina, the first of
two sons of Susan Peyton Telfair Daugherty and Charles Michael Daugherty.
1887-c. 1896-97: Childhood in southern Indiana and Wilmington, Ohio, where his
father (a University of Michigan graduate) farms.
c.1896-97: Moves with his parents to Washington, D.C., living in one of six adjoining
houses at No. 1255 Twenty-third Street on the southeast corner of Twenty-third and N
Streets. His father works as a statistician in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and
frequently spends evenings at home reading aloud to his family such authors as
Shakespeare, Prescott, Thackeray, Keats, Dickens, Poe, Chaucer, and Spencer’s Faery
Queen, while young James makes illustrations relating to each tale.
1903: Begins art lessons in the evening classes of the Corcoran School of Art, affiliated
with the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. May 28 receives the school’s
honorable mention certificate. Summer, studies with Hugh Breckenridge at the
Darby Summer School Painting in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
1904: March; Illustration for Treasure Island published in Sketch Book.
1904-05: For six months during this period attends the Pennsylvania Academy of the
Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he studies with William Merritt Chase and Henry
McCarter. Classmates include Morton Schamberg and Charles Sheeler.
1905: Spring, sails for Europe aboard the freighter Westernland with sculptor Hunt
Diederich, disembarking at Liverpool on June 6th. Lives with his parents and brother
in a townhouse at 42 St. Marks Road, North Kensington, London, where his father is a
special European agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Statistics.
1905-07: Studies with Frank Brangwyn at the London School of Art, Stratford Road,
South Kensington. Makes numerous trips to the continent, visiting Amsterdam, the
Hague, Brussels, Paris, Marseilles, Nice, Genoa, Pisa, Venice and Rome. Records his
visual impressions in a series of sketchbooks. Studies briefly at the Atelier Colarossi in
c.1907: Returns to America. In the period around February-March, 1909, resides at 28
East 14th Street in New York City. In May, 1909, is at 110 W. 17th Street.
c.1909-11: Resides in the New York-area suburban town of Leonia, New Jersey,
probably because of his friendship with Arthur Covey, a muralist who lived in Leonia
then and who had been associated with Brangwyn in London from 1903-08.
c.1908-12: Begins to sell his illustrations to book and magazine publishers, such as
Harper’s Weekly and Colliers as well as to the Otis Book series of the American Book
1911: Takes etching class at National Academy of Design, New York, receiving an
honorable mention on May 12, 1911. Moves to an apartment at 61 Poplar Street,
Brooklyn Heights, New York, in an imposing brick building with art studios on the top
floor overlooking New York harbor and the Brooklyn Bridge. Makes friends with
artists Walt Kuhn, Walter Pach and George Overbury “Pop” Hart. Meets Katherine
Dreier, patron and promoter of avant-garde art.
1912: Marries Sonia Medvedeva (b. 1893, Moscow, Russia, daughter of Arthur and
Violetta Medwedeff). Sonia had come to America at age ten with her father.
1913: Sees the Armory Show in New York but is not an exhibitor. After reading C,
Lewis Hind’s The Post-Impressionists (London, 1911), Daugherty goes “modern with a
vengeance.” November 17, birth of son Charles. Illustration for cover of Colliers
magazine. Exhibits two works at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
1914: Exhibits in a group show at the MacDowell Club in New York. Creates
illustrations in a Futurist style for the Magazine Section of the New York Herald,
appearing in the issues of Apr. 12, May 31, July 19, Aug. 23, Nov. 1, and Jan. 31, 1915.
His cartoons and caricatures appear in The Evening Sun, Nov. 10 and 15.
1915: Meets Arthur B. Frost Jr., who had taken the artist’s studio adjacent to his at 8
East 14th Street, second Floor, in New York. Frost had spent seven years in Paris,
where he learned about color theory from Matisse and from Robert and Sonia
Delaunay. Frost introduces Daugherty to these theories of simultaneous color
contrasts. Begins to make abstract drawings. Exhibits a painting at the Whitney
Studio Club, New York.
1915-22: Paints abstract and near-abstract paintings based on simultaneous color
theories now usually allied with the Synchromist movement.
c.1916: Joins The Penguin, a private organization of artists in New York City with
exhibitions at 8 East 15th Street. Other members include Jules Pascin, “Pop” Hart, and
Walt Kuhn. Exhibits an etching at Montross Gallery, New York.
1917: Participates in two exhibitions at The Penguin and in the first exhibition of the
Society of Independent Artists in New York. Teaches theories of simultaneous colors
to friend and colleague Jay Van Everen. By October moves with wife and son to an
apartment at No. 2 Jane Street, Greenwich Village, New York.
1918: Rents working studios located at 126 and 134 West 23rd Street, New York. Meets
Joseph Stella and Marcel Duchamp. Exhibits a painting Chinoisene at The Penguin
group show. Paints camouflage on warships for the Navy at Newport News and
Baltimore. Creates and paints posters for the war effort as a contributing artist of the
Division of Pictorial Publicity of the Committee on Public Information.
1919: Moves to 59 Washington Square South.
1920: Participates in two exhibitions with the Société Anonyme (19 E. 47th St.),
founded in 1920 by Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp. Other exhibitors include
Jan Matulka, Patrick Henry Bruce and Jay Van Everen. Exhibits at the fourth annual
exhibition of The Society of Independent Artists in New York. Begins painting set of
four murals (each 10 by 46 feet) for Loew’s State Theater in Cleveland (now called
Playhouse Square). Mural subjects are aspects of the four continents: The Spirit of
Fantasy – Asia; The Spirit of Adventure – Africa; The Spirit of Drama – Europe; The
Spirit of Cinema – America. About this time also paints murals for a lounge at Loew’s
1921: Completes Cleveland murals by February. Exhibits with Société Anonyme at
Colony Club, New York, Manhattan Trade School for Girls, Worcester Art Museum.
Exhibits at the fifth annual exhibition of The Society of Independent Artists, New
York. Exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and at
the Wanamaker Gallery in New York.
1922: Exhibits with Société Anonyme at Smith College, Detroit Institute of Arts,
MacDowell Club. Exhibits at the sixth annual exhibition of The Society of
Independent Artists, New York. Becomes a charter member of Modern Artists
of America, Inc., and exhibits with them at the Joseph Brummer Galleries, New York.
1923: Moves to 72 Washington Square, New York. Exhibits with Société Anonyme at
Vassar College (Apr. 4-May 12) and at Detroit Art Institute. Exhibits two paintings at
the seventh annual exhibition of The Society of Independent Artists, New York, and is
elected to serve on its Board of Directors. Meets Jan Matulka and sees his paintings at
his studio. Moves to a pre-Revolutionary country farmhouse on 13 acres on Broad
Street, Weston, Connecticut.
1924: Exhibits a “painted curtain” at the eighth annual exhibition of The Society of
Independent Artists, New York. Exhibits at the Salons of America at the Anderson
Galleries in New York in May and in October. Winter of 1924 lives in Chelsea Hotel,
New York, for two or three months.
1925-c.1927: Creates illustrations for The New Yorker magazine, including front covers
for the issues of September 5, 1925 and January 23, 1926, using the pseudonym of
Jimmie the Ink (or Jimmy the Ink).
1926: Illustrates the book Daniel Boone by Stewart Edward White. Paints at least four
mural panels for the President Hotel in Atlantic City and as many as twenty for the
Thomas Cook pavilion at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition. John Steuart
Curry works as his assistant; Daugherty urges him to go to France for further study in
1926-27: Nov. 18-Jan. 9, 1927 exhibits a large figurative painting entitled Wall
Decoration (1926) at the Brooklyn Museum’s international exhibition of modern art
assembled by Katherine Dreier and the Société Anonyme.
1929: Paints “mural map” for Geneva International Congress.
1931: Son Charles matriculates at Yale School of Fine Arts.
1932: Paints mural Overture to 1776 for George Washington Bicentennial exhibition at
National Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1933: Exhibits in two group shows at the Montross Gallery, New York.
1934: Paints a mural cycle of seven panels for the octagonally-shaped auditorium of
Stamford High School, Connecticut. Mural subjects are American Rhythm, Sports,
Historical New England, Tragedy-Comedy, the American Scene outside the School, the
School’s Activities, and High School Graduates. Paints mural Nursery Tales for Holmes
School, Darien, Connecticut.
1935: Paints mural Life and Times of General Putnam for Greenwich (Conn.) Town Hall
and which for many years was at Hamilton Avenue School in Greenwich. Paints four
mural panels for Woodfield, a children’s village settlement in Fairfield, Conn. (now at
Discovery Museum, Bridgeport). Exhibits in a show of mural designs submitted for
federal building projects. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1937: Paints eight mural panels for the social room of Fairfield Court, a public
housing project in Stamford, Connecticut. Project is illustrated and described in two
national magazines, Time and Life. Mural subjects are based on the idea of The
Democracy of the Machine, including The Model T Decade, The Iron Horse, and
Steamboat around the Bend.
1938: Writes and illustrates Andy and the Lion, which wins a Caldecott Honor Medal.
This is the first of many books for which he serves as both author and illustrator.
1939: Paints mural Illinois Pastoral for Virden, Illinois, post office. Paints two murals
for the Thomas Cook & Son-Wagon Lits, Inc. exhibit at Golden Gate Exposition, San
Francisco. Illustrates his own text of Daniel Boone, which wins the John Newbery
Medal in 1940 as the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
1940: May 28 gives speech accepting the Newbery Medal at American Library
Association meeting in Cincinnati.
1940s-1970s: Writes and illustrates a prodigious number of books. Beginning in 1953
returns to painting in a non-objective abstract style, sometimes reflecting new
developments of the postwar “New York School”, at other times recalling Synchromist
principles. Also paints figuratively, including a series of paintings on Biblical themes
in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
1941: Yale University Art Gallery acquires his Synchromist masterwork Mural
Decoration (c.1918) as part of the Société Anonyme/Katherine Dreier Bequest. This is
perhaps his first painting to enter a major art museum.
1946-47: Spends winter in California with family.
1947: Paints series of 15 oil paintings illustrating the text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg
Address, published as a book by Albert Whitman & Co.
1950: Illustrates Mabel Leigh Hunt’s Better Known as Johnny Appleseed, which is
chosen as a John Newbery Medal Honor Book in 1951.
1952: November, gives speech at the Washington Post Children’s Book Fair.
1954: One-man show, Westport, Connecticut.
1955: Conference participant at Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
1956: Illustrates Benjamin Elkin’s Gillespie and the Guards, which wins a Caldecott
Honor Medal in 1957. One-man show at Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San
Francisco Public Library.
1959: Receives Citation for Merit from the Annual Society of Illustrators National
1965: Exhibits in Synchromism and Color Principles in American Painting 1910-1930 at
M. Knoedler & Co., Galleries, New York, organized by William C. Agee. Agee
spearheads the rediscovery of the pioneering modernist American color artists,
including Daugherty. Featured in Nov. 1 issue of Newsweek magazine in an article
on America’s pioneer color artists.
1967: Aug. 3 gives speech to the American Library Association, Berkeley, California.
1967-68: His painting Simultaneous Contrasts (1918) is in a traveling group show,
Synchromism and Related Principles in American Painting, organized by New York’s
Museum of Modern Art, exhibited at nine museums coast-to-coast.
1968: Presents his first gift of drawings and manuscripts relating to his illustrated
books to the University of Oregon Library.
1969: Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquires his 1918 abstract painting
Simultaneous Contrasts, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Reed.
1971: May 4, wife Sonia passes away. One-man show, Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, New
York; catalog text by William Agee.
1973: Retrospective exhibition, Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, catalog text by
Kathryn E. Gamble.
1974: Feb 21 passes away in a Boston nursing home.
1975: Included in Avant-Garde Painting and Sculpture in America 1910-25 exhibition at
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington. One-man retrospective show, Silvermine Guild
of the Arts, New Canaan, Connecticut.
1977: Whitney Museum of American Art acquires Picnic (1916), bequest of Laurence H.
Bloedel, and purchases Three Base Hit (Opening Game) (1914).
1978-79: His major works based on color principles are included in Synchromism and
American Color Abstraction at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, curated by
Gail Levin. Works exhibited include the Futurist-inspired Three Base Hit (Opening
Game) 1914 (Whitney), Mural Decoration 1918-20 (Yale), Simultaneous Contrasts 1918
(Museum of Modern Art), Flight into Egypt c.1920 and the double-sided Moses 1922
with Untitled 1920 on verso (Tobin Collection, now McNay Art Museum, San Antonio).
Catalog text by Gail Levin.