Frank A. Bicknell
A prominent resident of Old Lyme, Connecticut, Frank Bicknell remains a bit of a mystery in that no photograph of him has been located, but he was a popular figure in the Colony. However, his accomplishments as an artist are not highly recognized.
He was born in Augusta, Maine and studied art in Malden, Massachusetts with Albion Bicknell, likely a relative. At the age of 21 (1887), he exhibited at the National Academy of Design and then moved to New York City. By 1893, he was studying in Paris at the Academie Julian with Robert Fleury and William Bouguereau.
Bicknell traveled extensively, from 1894 he visited Bermuda; and from 1890-1903, he spent every spring in Paris and the French countryside (with the exception of 1895-96); he was in Auvers-sur-Oise and Barbizon, 1891; Japan, 1895; Eastern Mediterranean, 1900.
In 1894, he was living at the Salmagundi Club in New York City and then he moved to “The Tower” at Madison Square Garden, a high-rent place that indicates he was a man of wealth. In 1913, he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design and for six years from 1919 taught at the College of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.
Bicknell came to Old Lyme in 1902 and lived there for nearly 40 years. He was an especially close friend of Florence Griswold and often stayed at her boarding house in Old Lyme, where he was introduced to Mr. & Mrs.Woodrow Wilson who purchased some of his paintings.
In 1908, he made summer painting trips to Ogunquit and Monhegan, Maine. Bicknell, a bachelor, referred to the other painters as his “family.” After 1916 he lived in the former home of artist, Lewis Cohen. He died in 1943 in a nursing home in Essex. Throughout his career he painted approximately 400 canvases.
He was also a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Lotus Club, the National Arts Club, the MacDowell Club, the National Academy, the American Art Association of Paris, the Pittsburgh Art Association and the Watercolor Society.
Connecticut and American Impressionism, The William Benton Museum of Art, Introduction by Harold Spencer