Julius Bloch (Biographical details)

Julius Bloch (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; American (USA); Male; 1888 - 1966)

Also known as

Bloch, Julius


Julius Bloch was born in Kehl, near Strasbourg, Germany, to German-Jewish parents who emigrated to America in 1893 and settled in Philadelphia. Although the family were poor, Bloch studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1908 to 1912, where he was taught life drawing and portraiture under Thomas P. Anshutz. After serving in France during the First World War, Bloch returned to Philadelphia and attended the Barnes Foundation in Merion. But, uneasy with the tendency towards modernism that had begun to influence painters in Philadelphia, Bloch began to focus instead on the actualities of American life for his subject matter. He drew inspiration from the nineteenth-century French realist painters, such as Millet. His genre paintings also shared an affinity with the Ashcan School artists who preceded him, and with Thomas Eakins.

Bloch was taught lithography by Theodore Cuno in Philadelphia during the late 1920s. His most prolific period was during the 1930s, when he used lithography to reproduce his painted compositions, as well as for its own sake.In 1934 he gained nationwide attention when Eleanor Roosevelt, herself an advocate of social reform, selected his painting The Young Worker, c.1934, for the White House collection. The painting had been included in the first Public Works Art Project exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington. In 1936 Bloch was made project director of the Easel Painting Division of the Philadelphia WPA/FAP, but he resigned from the post a year later, frustrated by the restraints the Federal Art Project imposed upon its artists. From 1948 until his retirement in 1962, Bloch taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. By then he had moved away from his earlier social realist style in favour of an expressionist idiom that referred to Byzantine art which he had studied during his travels in Sicily, Greece and Istanbul in the mid-1950s.


Patricia Likos, 'Julius Bloch: Portrait of the Artist', Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 79, no. 339 (Summer 1983), pp. 3-24