Bent on destruction! A man wields a hatchet against a roulette wheel while casino patrons are held back. No more gambling today! Powerful image, mostly in shades of gray. Not dated but early 20th century. Oil on canvas on board, 24 x 30.5, unframed. Painting is being cleaned. Will Foster was a friend of noted Southern California artist Sam Hyde Harris, and this painting comes from his estate.
William Foster became a noted figure painter and illustrator, living the last twenty-one years of his career in Los Angeles, California.
At age 12, he moved with his family to Colorado, but in 1898, he returned to Cincinnati and enrolled at the Art Academy where he studied with Joseph Henry Sharp and Frank Duveneck. His early ambition was to be a violinist, but he was re-focused on fine art when he saw a painting by Albert Ceck Wenzell.
In 1902, he went to New York City where he painted scenery for theaters, auditoriums, and large department stores. He also studied at the New York School with Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase, and from 1903 to 1931, he worked as an illustrator and with a brief teaching stint in 1919 at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1903, he sold his first illustration, a depiction of high society, to Life magazine, and the style was very similar to Wenzell. From that time, he worked for most of the major magazines including Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Harper’s Monthly.
In 1926, he won the National Academy of Design’s Thomas B. Clarke Prize for the best figure composition painted in the United States by a non-academician. The following year, he was voted an Associate Member based on his recognition for a figure work titled The Girl in Brown.
During World War I, he operated his own ambulance in France as a member of the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps and also received mention as a camoufleur artist. Returning to the U.S., he resumed his illustration work and moved to Chicago, where he taught at the Art Institute.
Foster moved to Los Angeles in 1932 and devoted his energy to painting, exhibiting and teaching. He taught at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles and gave private classes in his studio. He also worked on a mural project at the Hearst estate in Wyntoon, California and was an active member of the California Art Club.
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Roy R. Behrens, Camoupedia, A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage
Adapted from askart.com