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Charles Livingston Bull


From the early age of four, Charles Livingston Bull demonstrated a profound interest in animals and a talent for drawing. Pursuing better drafting skills, he enrolled in classes at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (now the Rochester Institute of Technology). While in school, Bull began a taxidermist apprenticeship for the Ward Museum of Natural History in Rochester, New York. His task to dissect various animals and mounting skins allowed him to study animal anatomy and physiology. Professor Ward recognized Bull's talent and sent him to the 1893 Chicago World Exposition to design an installation of 400 birds for the government of Guatemala. The impressive quality and speed of his work earned him the position of Chief Taxidermist at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. After work, Bull spent hours sketching at the zoo and taking night classes at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. He followed this routine for seven years, until he decided to pursue a freelance animal illustration career in New York City. Bull often sketched at the Bronx Zoo, memorizing poses and movements of live subjects. He illustrated more than 135 books and numerous articles for magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Collier's, American Boy, and Country Gentleman. He accepted private mural commissions, created posters for the government, and completed advertising campaign commissions for Packard, Ringling Brothers, and Barnum & Bailey. Bull's work shows strong elements of design, depicting the curvilinear elements of Art Nouveau and outlines to define shapes as seen in the Arts and Crafts movement. Along with many other artists of his time, he was influenced by Japanese prints. His works are generally flat and decorative with strong sinuous lines. Bull tightly cropped his compositions, creating a feeling of action and urgency. Bull was a member of the National Arts Club, the Architectural League, the Society of Mural Painters, the Animal Painters and Sculptors, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Illustrator's Club, the Camp Fire Club, and the Salmagundi Club. His work is recognized in many private collections and museums, including the National Museum of American Illustration, the Hickory Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

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