“Maurice Sterne was born August 8, 1878, in Memel, Latvia, on the Baltic Sea. After living briefly in Moscow (1885–1889), the Sternes immigrated to New York” (Phillips Collection). “At a young age he worked for an engraving firm and studied drawing at Cooper Union” (Morgan). “From 1894 to 1899, Sterne attended the National Academy of Design, where he met Alfred Maurer and studied briefly with Thomas Eakins. He first exhibited his work in 1902 at the Old Country Sketch Club with William J. Glackens and ‘Pop’ (George Overbury) Hart’” (Phillips Collection).
“After training at the ‘National Academy of Design’, in 1904 he embarked on a decade of global travel. Following several years in Europe, where he absorbed Cezanne’s work, early Renaissance painting, and classical sculpture, he traveled on to Egypt, India, Burma, and finally, to Bali. Following his return to New York in 1915, his Balinese paintings made his reputation and attracted the attention of Mabel Dodge … to whom he found himself uneasily married in 1917. Soon Sterne moved (alone) to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to paint indigenous Indians” (Morgan).
“Later Sterne worked for long periods in Anticoli Corrado, not far from Rome, attempting to capture ideal beauty in depictions of peasants rendered in a purified linear style, as in Breadmakers (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1923). His still lifes of this time retain closer ties to Cezanne” (Morgan). “In 1926 Scott and Fowles Gallery held an enormously successful exhibition of his work that established him as one of the foremost artists in America. Three years later, he and his second wife, Vera Segal, returned to New York, and he established an art school there in 1932.” (Phillips Collection). “In 1933 the highly regarded Sterne numbered among the first American artists to be accorded a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art. Subsequently, he secured one of the most prestigious mural commissions of the federal art projects, a series of twenty scenes on the subject of Man’s Struggle for Justice (installed in 1941), for the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C. from the mid-1940’s Sterne summered in Provincetown, on Cape Cod, where he painted fresh seascapes that are less intellectually restrained than much of his previous work” (Morgan).
“He died at his primary residence in Mount Kisco, north of New York City” (Morgan).
Morgan, Ann Lee. The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists. Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2007.
"Biography: Maurice Sterne (1878-1957)" [Online]. American Art @ The Phillips Collection. [cited 3 Jul 2014].
Available at: http://www.phillipscollection.org/research/american_art/bios/sterne-bio.htm