Milton Bancroft 1866-1947 American Artist “Interior Figures” drawing In graphite measuring 8x10” It would have been easy for Milton Herbert Bancroft to slip between the cracks of history into obscurity, like so many capable artists of his era. But Indiana University of Pennsylvania is giving him new life.
“Gilded Age to Great War: Milton Bancroft and His Art” at the University Museum includes 65 items from the school’s large collection of Bancroft art and memorabilia, most of which came to the university by way of an unusual opportunity.
Bancroft (1866-1947) witnessed remarkable social and technological change during his lifetime. A corresponding evolution was taking place within artistic expression as preferences evolved from a realism that emulated master painters of past centuries to the fluid lines and vibrancy of impressionist and fauve palettes. This is reflected in his paintings, from the bracingly lovely portrait of his daughter Anna to an impressionistic landscape.
Drawings range from the quietude of a “Quaker Meeting” to troops marching in France in 1918. The artist made more than 200 sketches while working with the YMCA in France (age disqualified him when he tried to enlist). His eldest son, John, had enlisted in the Army in 1918 and was sent with a company of engineers to France.
In 1978, IUP art history professor Barbara Balsiger was at a home she owned in Maryland not far from where Mr. Bancroft lived his final years. She saw a notice for the sale of his estate, already in progress, and phoned to request that the sale be stopped until she arrived, said Donna Cashdollar, exhibition co-curator.