James Carroll Beckwith was an American Impressionist artist specializing in landscape, portraiture and genre paintings. After studying at the Chicago Academy of Design and the National Academy of Design in New York, he lived in Europe between 1873 and 1878, living mainly in Paris. There he apprenticed with John Singer Sargent in the studio of Emile Carolus-Duran, one of the most esteemed portrait painters of French high society at the time. With fellow artist William Merritt Chase, he returned to New York in 1878, where they were both hired as teachers at the Art Students League. Beckwith, meanwhile, rose to prominence, especially for his portraits of upper-class women, soldiers, composers, and writers. In addition, he was a shrewd businessman and entertainer. He dressed flamboyantly in light-coloured suits and bold cardigans and he and his wife Bertha Hall held regular cultural gatherings. In 1910 he sold the contents of his studio and moved to Italy with his wife for two years. Back in New York, he increasingly struggled with the prevailing zeitgeist because his conservative painting style was not in keeping with changing tastes. Beckwith would remain faithful throughout his life to the ideals of French academic painting and was strongly opposed to 'the new art' that emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1917 he started writing an autobiography, but he died before he could finish it. His wife donated the manuscript to the National Academy of Design. Beckwith received several awards, including an honorable mention at the 1889 Paris Exposition and a gold medal at the 1895 Atlanta Exposition.