1848 - 1930

Places lived

Known for portrait, views of forest interiors.


William McKendree Snyder was born in Liberty, Indiana, on December 20, 1849. The fourth child of William and Elizabeth Snyder, William was named after his father, a Methodist minister.

Reverend Snyder moved his family to Madison, Indiana. It is here that William Snyder received his first art lessons. In 1861, both Reverend Snyder and William enlisted in the Union Army of the Civil War. William enlisted as a drummer boy while his father joined the Union cause as a chaplain. William was captured but survived the Andersonville prisoner of war camp. One of his earliest works was the Battle of Shiloh, a 9-by-20-foot oil painting.

After the war, from 1868-1870, Snyder studied with Inesco Williams in Cincinnati. It was from Williams that Snyder reportedly learned the art of portraiture before going out East. He was influenced by the Hudson River School and studied with George Innis, Alexander Wyant, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Eaton and William Hunt between 1872 and 1875. From Innis he learned composition and layout. From Alexander Wyant he learned to paint tree roots and foliage, and from Bierstadt he learned luminous graduation, modulation and the control of tonality. From William Hunt, who was a friend of the French painter Jean-Francoise Millet, Snyder learned realism.

In 1875 Snyder married Alena Rodecker. The couple had one child, Alena Pearl Snyder, who also became an artist of oil and watercolor. In 1879 Snyder moved his family back to Madison, Indiana, and applied himself to portrait painting, gaining a reputation in this field before turning to pastoral scenes after a move to Columbus.

He was a member of the Wonderland Way Art Club in New Albany and worked and studied with James L. Russell there. During this time period his name became synonymous with beech tree woods and he made several trips to Brown County, Indiana, where he executed some of his best landscape paintings.

William Snyder died on September 30, 1930.

Works of Art

Beech Trees

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New Albany, IN 47150
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