Paint Box of W.C. Baker

Born on November 17, 1872, in Buffalo, NY, William Charles Baker believed that appreciation of beauty was not instinctive, but something that could be taught. He was an enthusiastic artist and teacher who took great pleasure in introducing the beauty he saw in nature to others. He loved to paint the Finger Lakes countryside. "We live in a beautiful world," Baker once said, "and those who live in the Finger Lakes region dwell in one of the finest parts of this beautiful world." His paintings captured the area's seasonal changes and atmospheric qualities. They have been exhibited in Paris, New York, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, as well as Ithaca.

Irene Castle, the well-known silent screen film star living in Ithaca, first recognized the outstanding talent inherent in Baker’s work in the late 1910’s. After she purchased a number of his paintings, other Ithacans became curious and felt compelled to buy their own. Some of his works include "Cayuga Lake Valley from Cayuga Heights: Winter " from the 1920's, "Creek In Cayuga Heights Area" from the 1930's, and "Apple Blossoms Near Spencer" from the 1950's.

W.C. Baker purchased the paint box featured here during his 1904-1905 trip to Paris. It was donated by his granddaughter, Ellen Wells. Baker died on February 20, 1958 at the age of 85, but his paintings are still an inspiration to artists today.

Sources: DHS accession files; Cornell Necrology