Abram Raphael Beck (1858-1947)


(November 16th, 1858 – May 29th, 1947)

Abram Raphael Beck was born in Lancaster, PA to Julius Augustus Beck and Susan Maria Beck.  He was named after the Italian high-renaissance painter Raphael (Raffaello) Sanzio (Italian, 1483-1520). His father was a sculptor and painter who received the contract for the base relief in the interior of the Washington Monument which depicts Hippocrates refusing bribes from the Persians.   His father taught him many fine points of painting and at the age of twenty, he travelled to Munich and Paris.  There he studied at the Art Academy under the landscape artist, Paul Weber (German-born American, 1823-1916) and Frank Duveneck (American, 1848-1919). He later studied under Leon Baschet at the Academie Julian, Paris, as well as at the Harrisburg Institute.  


Around 1880, he moved back to the States and resided in Lockport, NY.  By 1900, Beck had a home at 479 Willow Street in Lockport and a studio at 52 West Chippewa Street at the top of the Calumet Building in Buffalo, N.Y., and he operated a school for young artists.


Beck has many notable achievements.  He won three major competitions to design logos for some of the World’s Fairs which were prevalent in the early years of the 20th century: the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo (1901), the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis (1904), and the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon (1905). During the Pan American exposition in Buffalo, Beck sketched President William McKinley while the latter was making a speech.  He completed the sketch a few moments before an assassin’s bullet struck down the president.  This picture is located at the Buffalo Historical Society.  Beck’s murals graced churches, theaters, schools, clubs, public buildings, and commercial establishments throughout Western New York. Among those that remain standing are “The Opening of the Erie Canal, October 26, 1825,” now housed at the Erie Canal Discovery Center (24 Church Street, Lockport), and five panels for the Auditorium dome and a proscenium fresco in the North Park Theater (1428 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo). Beck's work was alternately referred to as realistic and impressionistic, sometimes combining the two styles.


On May 29th 1947, A. Raphael Beck died at his home in Lockport, NY, from a heart attack at the age of 88.  Besides his wife Frances, he left behind a son Frederick D. Beck (of Pittsburgh, PA) and a daughter Phyllis (Mrs. Allan Van De Mark of Lockport, NY), two of his brothers John Beck who was a commercial artist (of Williamsport, PA), brother Martin Beck a retired artist (of Elgin, IL), and one sister Mrs. John H. Wilson (of Philadelphia. PA).

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