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Ski Art: Paul Starrett Sample (1896-1974)



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Ski Art: Paul Starrett Sample (1896-1974)

By E. John B. Allen

Learning to paint while recovering from tuberculosis, Paul Sample painted what he knew best: rural ski scenes.

Paul Sample, Dartmouth College’s heavyweight boxing champion, class of ’21, came late to painting. While recovering from tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York, he studied painting under the Norwegian artist Jonas Lie in the early 1920s. From 1925, he taught in the art department at the University of Southern California, before taking up the appointment of ‘artist in residence’ at his alma mater in 1938. Other than his war service as an artist-correspondent, he remained at Dartmouth until 1962. He died of a heart attack in 1974.

Sample started exhibiting in 1927. In 1934, Time ranked him as “one of America’s most important living painters.” Between 1927 and his death he had more than 30 solo exhibitions and was involved in about 75 group shows.

He painted “Winter Holiday” in the late 1940s. By this time, he had become a member of the Associated American Artists, which include luminaries Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. This organization marketed its members’ works, and “Winter Holiday” fit into the regional category, with Sample’s art exhibiting the pleasures of skiing in and around Dartmouth.

Rural joys and story-book New England towns (this one looks quite like Stowe), were typical of Sample’s style. “Winter Holiday” was chosen by the West Virginia Inspirations for Printers, a magazine that advertised paper products to designers, artists and teachers. The printer’s guide always had a special cover, which was common in the 1950s for calendars, magazines and trade publications. Sample joined Charles Dana Gibson, N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish and Saul Steinberg as cover artists in 1950.

Some of Sample’s skiing paintings are held in Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art, including “The ski jump” and the “Slope near the bridge.” Dartmouth’s Rauner Library holds Sample’s papers. — E. John B. Allen



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