Leo John Meissner (1895-1977)
, "Old Rail Fence", c. 1957, wood engraving, 30/50, plate: 7 x 10.5", frame: 14.5 x 17.5"
Born into a poor family in Michigan in 1895, Leo Meissner began working at the age of fifteen. At the same time he studied at the Detroit Fine Art Academy, under John P. Wicker. He then served in the American Army in France during World War One. After the war Meissner resumed his studies and won a scholarship to the Art Students League of New York, where he learned painting techniques under Robert Henri and George Luks. He then gained employment as an assistant art director for the magazine, Charm. A fine artist of both oils and pastels, Leo Meissner's fame rests even more on his masterful woodcuts and wood engravings. His first original works of art in these media were created in the early 1920's and over his career he produced more than one hundred and fifty relief prints. Leo Meissner was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists, Boston Print Makers, the Prairie Print Makers, Audubon Artists, the Philadelphia Print Club and a full Academician of the National Academy of Design. His graphic art received awards from the Southern Printmakers (1937, 1938), the Detroit Institute of Art (1943, 1945) and the Library of Congress (1943, 1945). Today his original wood engravings and woodcuts are included in the following collections; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the University of Maine Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.