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John M. August Will
Date: 1834 - 1910
Remarks: A native of Weimar, Germany, John M. August Will was born in 1834. By the age of fourteen he was already executing views of the local scenery, possibly indicating institutional or private training in the field. By 1853 he had emigrated to the United States and settled in Bergen, part of Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1855 when he lists himself as an artist. He was residing at the same address as an Adolphe Will, also an artist and either his father or brother. Within two years, Will had set up a studio in New York City, finding work as a commercial designer, illustrator, and portraitist. He had established enough of a reputation to have his work included in the prestigious 1864 edition of Washington Irving's Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His efforts were again rewarded in 1876 when he was asked to provide the seals for the Centennial in Philadelphia. During the 1890s his illustrations were featured in such magazines as the Atlantic Monthly, and Century in addition to his other design work for books, show cards, and labels. Furthermore, Will conducted art classes from his studio for about thirty-eight years, winning the recognition of such notables as Thomas Moran (q.v.). Will's most notable work, however, was the series of views depicting Jersey City, a collection he exhibited in 1895 and 1906. He was a member of the Mechanic's Lodge No. 66 and the Art Club of Jersey City. Will died on January 22, 1910. Inlcuded in the Society's collection of Will's sketches are twelve from an unknown donor, some unsigned. The unsigned studies are all part of the same group and, although they lack signatures, are accepted as by Will's hand.