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Leon Kroll (American, 1884-1974)


Also known as:  Kroll, Leon Abraham

Birth Place: New York, NY USA


Who was painter Leon Kroll?

Leon Kroll was an American painter, muralist, and was described by Life magazine as “the dean of U.S. nude painters” in July of 1948. Born in New York, Kroll spent almost his entire life in the city that never sleeps. Kroll’s aesthetics often put him at odds with his contemporaries, he preferred realism to the modernist movement of the early 20th century. That said, his work was often experimental in its own way, the chapel ceiling mosaic at Normandy American Cemetery (1953) feels at times dreamy, surreal, and classical in theme all at the same time. 

Kroll’s mark was really made as a teacher. He considered art to be a craft, and as such molded his students into expert craftsmen. He admired his students and the youthful vigor that they brought into his studio.  In his biography of Kroll, Jerome Myers said, “... (Kroll) was always sympathetic towards youthful talent, boldly standing up for the rights of others as well as his own.”

What kind of art does Leon Kroll make?

Leon Kroll was best known for two things: nudes and landscapes. While his work was often at-odds aesthetically with his contemporaries, he was a much-respected member of the art community for his entire life. His pieces are often evocative, just as they are natural -- verdant green forests and women in recline. It’s easy to see the through-line in Kroll’s pieces. They revel in natural beauty, un-selfconscious,  simple, and elegant. While his art had these qualities, Kroll considered himself a craftsman. It’s easy to dismiss his images as facile, but that attitude belies the considerable talent, attention to detail, and sure hand that make Kroll’s art so enchanting. 

How did painter Leon Kroll get started?

Leon Kroll was born into an artistic family. The son of a violinist and nephew of famed composer William Kroll, he grew up surrounded by art. It was no surprise then that the young Kroll studied at the Art Students League of New York and then later at the Academie Julian in Paris during the late 1800s. These formative years in Paris must have had a profound effect on Kroll, at the time it was the artistic and cultural capital of the entire world. Kroll came back to New York in the early 1900s invigorated. He showed his work at the famed 1913 Armory show, the first large exhibition of modern art in America. In 1930, he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, cementing his reputation as a master. 

How much are Leon Kroll’s paintings worth?

Leon Kroll’s paintings can sell for a few thousand dollars, up to hundreds of thousands for his major works. In 2004 the Leon Kroll painting Central Park West (1924) sold for $198,400 - $70,000 higher than even its high auction estimate suggested. It’s a prototypical Kroll painting, a serene, snow-filled landscape in turn of the century New York City. His seascapes have also proved very popular at auction, with many selling for six-figures. 

Where to buy Leon Kroll paintings for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Leon Kroll paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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