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Early Art and Artists in West Virginia

John A. Cuthbert
HC/J  978-0-937058-53-4


Early Art and Artists in West Virginia is illustrated copiously with 136 plates accompanying the essays on portraiture and landscape painting, which form the first half of the book. A similar number of smaller illustrations in full color bring life to a biographical directory in the second part of the book, which contains nearly one thousand known painters who worked in West Virginia. Many West Virginians will find their family names in this directory, and some will doubtless locate the information here that they have long sought in order to learn more about a painting in their family's possession. The book is supported by an extensive bibliography on the state's artistic heritage and a full index to both the directory and the essays.

2001 American Graphic Design Awards Winner
A Wonderful West Virginia Magazine Book of the Month


  • Foreword
  • Part I
  • Prologue
  • Early Portraiture in West Virginia
  • Landscape Artists, Illustrators, and More
  • Looking Forward
  • Epilogue
  • Notes on the Text
  • Part II
  • Biographical Directory
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index


John A. Cuthbert, Curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection and Director of the West Virginia Historical Art Collection at the West Virginia University Libraries, has drawn upon years of personal study of the development of fine painting in West Virginia to write this history of the state's artistic heritage from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. He suggests that we have focused so intently on our rich traditions derived from the culture of mountain folk that we have overlooked the fact that most of our state's population has always been concentrated in the river valleys and in the Eastern Panhandle where communication and transportation were readily available. In such circumstances, West Virginians were no less sophisticated than their neighbors in bordering states and portrait and landscape painters found ready patrons for their works here.


"Early Art and Artists in West Virginia provides an impressive body of research, well-written and well-documented. I see this as an excellent example of a growing number of studies in which individual states are recording their artistic heritages, and none is perhaps more varied or interesting than West Virginia's."
Jessie Poesch, author The Art of the Old South

"With modesty, Cuthbert... describes his study as 'only a beginning.' Most will agree that this is far more than that; for the foreseeable future, it will be the undisputed reference on the subject."
Joan Stahl, The Smithsonian American Art Museum

"An incredible collection."
Bill Archer, The Bluefield Daily Telegraph

"No one who spends time with Cuthbert's book will ever doubt that West Virginia has a long and active artistic tradition."
John DouglasThe Morgan Messenger