William Sommer

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The Pool (1918). In the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Pool by William Sommer 1918.jpg
The Pool (1918). In the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Sommer paintings exhibit poster, Cleveland, 1938 William sommer exhibit poster.jpg
Sommer paintings exhibit poster, Cleveland, 1938

William Sommer (1867–1949) was an American Modernist painter.


William Sommer was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1867. He was largely self-taught, but received instruction early on from artist and commercial lithographer Julius Melchers. He apprenticed with the Detroit Calvert Lithograph Company for seven years but in 1890 he traveled to Europe where he trained with Professors Johann Herterich, Ludwig Schmid, and Adolph Menzel. In 1907 he accepted a position with the Otis Lithograph Company of Cleveland, Ohio and in 1911 he co-founded the Kokoon Arts Club to promote modern art in Cleveland. In 1914 he relocated to Brandywine, Ohio. He worked on several large-scale murals for the Federal Art Project, including Rural Homestead in the Geneva, Ohio post office.

Biographical Highlights

Artist William Sommer spent most of his life in Summit County near Brandywine Falls. Sommer was an acknowledged leader of the "Cleveland School," a group of Cleveland-based artists who were active from the teens through the mid-1940s. These artists formed the core of an art community whose size and activity paralleled the growth and energy of Cleveland during that period. Sommer painted from the turn of the 20th century into the 1940s, absorbing the ideas of the Cubists and other adventurous artists of that time and integrating these concepts and techniques into his own work. His subjects were thoroughly rooted in the American midwest, however; favorite subjects included young children and farm scenes.

He continued to paint until his death in 1949. Hart Crane dedicated his 1927 poem Sunday Morning Apples to Sommer.


  1. Northern Ohio Live, November 1982

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