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Sheldon Parsons (American, 1866-1943)


Also known as:  Orin Sheldon Parsons; Parsons, Sheldon; Parsons, Shelom

Seeking to start a new life following his wife's death, Sheldon Parsons left a highly successful career in New York as a portrait painter and moved with his daughter to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1913. Parsons also suffered from tuberculosis at the time, and he thought the high desert air in New Mexico would be a boon to his health. Both he and his art flourished in his new home. He was one of the first established artists to become a full-time resident of Santa Fe, arriving there several years before other artists joined him to create a thriving art colony.

Parsons's approach to painting changed dramatically when he moved to Santa Fe. His palette became much brighter and his style turned to Impressionism. He favored paintings of his surroundings, adobe villages, sunlit mountains, and aspen forests. Once establishing himself in Santa Fe, he completely abandoned portraiture and in fact did not include any figures in his paintings. He sold many works at the Palace of Governors in the heart of Santa Fe. He was a popular local figure, and when the new Fine Arts Museum opened in 1918, he was the first director. Parsons embraced his newfound home and created a successful career there until his death in 1943.

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