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David Sellin Edit Profile

consultant , art historian

David Sellin, American art historian, consultant. Fellow American Scandinavian Foundation, 1952-1953, Fulbright fellow, Italy, 1956-1968, SMithsonian Institute Postdoctoral fellow, 1972-1973, Pennsylvania Academy Fine Arts fellowship.

Background

Sellin, David was born on April 13, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Son of Thorsten and Amy (Anderson) Sellin.

Education

As a teenager, he studied privately with painter Frank B. A. Linton, a former student of Thomas Eakins, and spent a year in Sweden in the atelier of painter Otte Sköld. He returned to Stockholm to study for a year at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, and studied for two years in Rome as a Fulbright scholar. He returned to Philadelphia, worked as an assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and completed a doctorate in art history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Career

He taught at a number of universities, worked on the staffs of several museums, and served as curator of the U.S. Capitol, 1976-1980. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. He became director of schools at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), a position Eakins once had held.

His research into the influence of France on 19th-century Philadelphia artists – notably Joseph A. Bailly, Mary Cassatt, Eakins, and Howard Roberts – culminated in a 1973 exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sellin curated three additional exhibitions that featured Eakins as a subject: American Art in the Making: Preparatory Studies for Masterpieces of American Painting, 1800-1900 (Smithsonian Institution, 1976). Thomas Eakins, Susan Macdowell Eakins, Elizabeth Macdowell Kenton (PAFA, 1977).

And Thomas Eakins and His Fellow Artists at the Philadelphia Sketch Club (Philadelphia Sketch Club, 2001). His research into expatriate American artists who settled in France led to a 1982 joint exhibition by PAFA and the Phoenix Art Museum, that also traveled to France. He was a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, American University, Tulane University, the University of Texas, and other universities.

He served on the faculties of Colgate University and Wesleyan University, where he also directed their art galleries. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1971, to work at what is now the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. As curator of the U.S. Capitol, he oversaw restoration of four of the massive paintings in the Rotunda, and conserved hundreds of 19th-century drawings by the building's architect, Thomas U. Walter.

He published numerous articles on American artists, and worked as an independent curator and consultant. African Art and the School of Paris, Colgate University, 1966. The First Pose: Howard Roberts, Thomas Eakins, and a Century of Philadelphia Nudes, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973.

American Art in the Making: Preparatory Studies for Masterpieces of American Painting, 1800-1900, Smithsonian Institution, 1976. Thomas Eakins, Susan Macdowell Eakins, Elizabeth Macdowell Kenton, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1977. Americans in Brittany and Normandy, 1860-1910, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Phoenix Art Museum, 1982, co-curated with James K. Ballinger.

William Lamb Picknell, 1853–1897, Taggart & Jurgensen Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1991. The Ipswich Painters at Home and Abroad: Dow, Kenyon, Mansfield, Richardson, Wendel. Cape Anne Historical Society, 1993, co-curated with Stephanie R. Gaskins.

Thomas Eakins and His Fellow Artists at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia Sketch Club, 2001. Mark Sullivan contributed an essay to the catalogue.

Membership

Member Committee of 100 on Federal City, Washington, Citizens Planning Coalition, Washington, Midway Civic Association, Washington. Member Columbia History Society (board of managers 1980-1989), Potomac Society Stereo Photographers, Phi Beta Kappa.

Connections

Son of; married Anne Robertson, November 27, 1965.

father:
Thorsten Sellin

mother:
Amy (Anderson) Sellin

spouse:
Anne Robertson