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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOMMER, WILLIAM - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOMMER, WILLIAM (18 Jan. 1867-20 June 1949), Cleveland artist, was born in Detroit and from 11 to 16 studied drawing with a church woodcarver and trainer for Detroit Calvert Lithograph Co, where he served an apprenticeship from 1881-88. He studied a year in Europe (1890-91), then worked for lithograph companies in New York before moving to Cleveland in 1907. Sommer worked for W. J. Morgan Lithograph Co. until 1929, when he was laid off as they adapted the offset press. He then painted full-time, doing the murals in Public Hall; Brett Hall, CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY; the post office, Geneva, Ohio; and the Board of Education Bldg., Akron, Ohio with the WPA Federal Art Project, an assignment he secured through the assistance of WM. MILLIKEN†. In the 1920s and 1930s, he regularly won prizes in drawing and watercolor at the MAY SHOW. Sommer helped found the KOKOON ARTS CLUB in 1912.

Sommer purchased a house and old school at Brandywine, Ohio for a studio, which was a meeting place for local artists, including ABEL and ALEX WARSHAWSKY†, and poet HART CRANE†. When Crane moved to New York, he took Sommer's paintings and drawings with him. Some were bought, however only after Sommer's death did the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and the Nelson-Adkins Gallery in Kansas City purchase his work, and that films, books, and articles began recognizing his art. Sommer married Martha Obermeyer in 1894. The couple had 3 children: William L., Jr., Edward, and Ray.

Cleveland Museum of Art. The William Sommer Memorial Exhibition Catalogue (1950).

Last Modified: 22 Jul 1997 03:21:59 PM

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