SEMON, JOHN (22 Feb. 1852-14 Dec. 1917) was a landscape painter associated with the group of 19th-century local artists known as the "Old Bohemians." Although he was born in Cleveland, little is known of his early life including his artistic education. Influenced by the style of the French Barbizon School, he specialized in the painting of atmospheric woodland interiors, depicting the interplay of sunlight and shadow. From 1884-88 he taught at the Western Reserve School of Design for Women (see CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART), located in the old City Hall. Semon also maintained a studio there, where his private pupils included the young Marsden Hartley from 1896-98. He exhibited regularly and was a founding member of the Society of Cleveland Artists, the BRUSH AND PALETTE CLUB, and the Artists Painters Club. By 1901, however, Semon had abandoned his studio and gone to live and paint in the woods of BEDFORD, where he acquired the reputation of a recluse. "Commercialism and sensationalism had no habitat in his makeup," wrote CLEVELAND PRESS critic Wilson G. Smith in an appreciation. Apparently never married, Semon died without survivors after a year's illness.

Haskell, Barbara. Marsden Hartley (1980).

Sackerlotzky, Rotraud. F.C. Gottwald and the Old Bohemians (1993).

Article Categories