William Mcknight Farrow
American, 1885 - 1967
Signed and dated William Farrow, 1948 lower left; titled on reverse.
William McKnight Farrow was born in Dayton, OH in 1885. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1908-1918 and became the first African-American instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago. While at the Art Institute, Farrow held such positions during his tenure, from 1917-1945, as head of the Printing Department, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions and Manager of Egyptian art.
From 1926-1948 he taught art at the Carl Schurz Evening School in Chicago and ultimately lost he job there when school officials, who assumed Farrow was white, were told of a profile on the artist that appeared in the African-American newspaper “The Pittsburgh Courier”. He founded the Chicago Art League in 1923, authored two books on commercial art and wrote reviews for the “Chicago Defender”, a black newspaper. He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and had a solo show at the New York Public Library in 1940.
His works can be found today at the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY and the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, among others. Farrow was a great source of guidance and inspiration to many African-American artists who became prominent in the mid-Twentieth Century. He died in Chicago in 1967.