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Paintings By
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Brush & Pencil

Grand Rapids
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Dutch Boy Painter

Robert L. Stearns

Artist Paints Types
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Latest Portrait:
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Lawrence C. Earle,
Distinguished Artist,
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Garfield Gives
Reminiscence of
Artist L. C. Earle

Dutch Boy Painter
Vol. XV Number 2
March 1922




Paintings by Mr. Lawrence C. Earle

VIEW POSTCARDS | VIEW Brush and Pencil Article (October 1902)

Chicago Pictorial, Historical; published 1902

The mural paintings in the Chicago National Bank building are the work of Lawrence C. Earle of Montclair, NJ, an artist who ranks among the leaders in his chosen field in the United States. The work on the sixteen paintings was actually begun in the fall of 1900 when Mr. Earle came to Chicago to discuss with the officials of the bank the commission which had been offered him. After accepting it he set about his gigantic task by setting down in the rooms of the Chicago Historical Society for study and research among the books, manuscripts, wood cuts, and other memorials of early Chicago. For several weeks the artist carried on his investigations, leaving no source of possible information unexplored. He experienced considerable difficulty in finding material for several of the paintings, as many of the subjects selected had previously not been pictorially reproduced even in crude form, and Mr. Earle found it necessary to rely largely upon published descriptions of the scenes and incidents he intended to place upon canvas.

  At length the preliminary work was done and the artist finished his scale drawings, which gave a hint in miniature of the glories that were to grow upon the canvas beneath the touch of his brushes. Returning to his home in the East, he discovered that his studio was not large enough to permit him to set up several of the large canvases at one time, as was his intention, and therefore he begged the privilege of using the large studio in the residence of Mr. William Evans, an art connoisseur of Montclair. The accommodation was readily granted, and when Mr. Earle had secured the services of Edward Potthast, an eminent painter of New York, as his assistant, the real work was begun. For weary months the two artists and several assistants labored on the immense canvases, three and four often being underway at one time, until at length the last one was finished and the last touch of beauty was added to the Chicago National Bank building. From the time the paintings were unveiled they have been viewed and admired daily by hundreds of visitors to the building.

The images below are from OLD MONROE STREET; Notes on the Monroe Street of Early Chicago Days; Compiled by Edwin F. Mack, 1914; Central Trust Company of Illinois


"Numerous Grand Rapids painters were attracting international attention in the first decade of the twentieth century. There [was] ... Larry C. Earle, who attracted wide attention for his murals in the Chicago National Bank." -page 438
!The Story of Grand Rapids, Z. Z. Lydens, Editor; Grand Rapids: 1966; Kregel Publications

John R. Walsh, capitalist and railroad financier, founded the Chicago National Bank. He was also a newspaper proprietor. Walsh was one of Eugene V. Debs’ most bitter opponents during the Pullman strike. December 1905, Walsh met financial ruin, when his banking, railroad and mining empire collapsed. In 1910, he began serving a five year sentence at Leavenworth prison for loaning himself millions of dollars from his own bank to finance improvements to his various railroads. His friends secured his release just in time to permit him to die on “the outside."

The Chicago National Bank became the Central Trust Company of Chicago and later merged with the Harris Trust & Savings in 1960 and is located in a 23 story building at 111 W. Monroe, Chicago. This building was completed in 1958.

*Thanks to Dr. J. Gray Sweeney for permission to use material from
Artists of Grand Rapids 1840-1980, J. Gray Sweeney; Grand Rapids, 1981:
The Grand Rapids Art Museum, The Grand Rapids Public Museum

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