William Carl Groh, III is an American born master portrait artist trained in New York and abroad. Groh received his formal education at the Memphis Academy of Art (BFA), Memphis, TN; Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence Italy; Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, CT; National Academy of Design, New York, NY, and The Art Students League of New York. Groh also spent decades of intensive studies under master painters Aaron Shikler, Frederick Taubes, Lajos Markos, and Jan De Ruth.
Groh’s earlier studies began traveling between New York and Europe under the guidance of Frederic Taubes, the foremost authority on the painting techniques of the early Italian and Dutch masters. During this time that Groh traveled throughout Europe earnestly examining and reproducing the great masterpieces of the Old Masters first-hand. Through this study, he intensely practiced and honed his talents to become a highly skilled painter. In his book, The Mastery of Alla Prima Painting, Taubes recognizes Groh as, “…one of three contemporary American painters whose technique is nearly identical with that of the Masters.”
With his European education completed, Groh continued his training under the tutelage of Aaron Shikler. Shikler is noted for his portraits of prominent American statesmen, first ladies, European royalty, New York society, and most famously the official White House portrait of President John F. Kennedy. Shikler took Groh on as a private student for over 30 years forming him into one of the foremost living portrait painters of the century. Shikler’s guidance fashioned him in the image of the legendary portraitist while bolstering Groh’s dreams and aspirations. Shikler noted this in a letter, shortly after Groh’s acceptance to the Smithsonian, where he remarks that Groh, “…has achieved the highest level a mortal painter can possibly reach.” This experience formed a lifelong friendship and collaboration between them.
In the style of the Old Masters, Groh’s oeuvre has been described by preeminent art critics as “timeless.” Although Groh works in all media, he is best known for his work in oil medium. His masterpieces hang in many public and private collections stretching from the east to west coasts. Throughout his career, Groh’s work has been exhibited in important institutions all over the United States and Europe.
Well known for his portraits of 20th century academicians and theologians, his iconic work can be viewed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. which features the treasures of the United States. His depiction of literary critic, author, and member of The New York Intellectuals, Diana Trilling, has been a part of the museum’s permanent collection since 2002. Groh’s oil portrait of Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., is housed with such legends as Rembrandt and Van Dyke in the Georgetown University Art Collection in Washington, D.C. His portrait of historian Eugen Weber is in the permanent collection of the University of California, Los Angeles while his painting of writer Peter Gay is in the collection of Princeton University. Fordham University’s William D. Walsh Family Library and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library in New York also boast Groh’s paintings in their permanent collections. Groh also enjoys the distinction of having painted numerous corporate portraits such as all four presidents of McIlhenny Company since 1970, makers of the world-famous Tabasco Sauce.
He is a member of the National Arts Club, NYC, and the Royal Society of Arts, London. Groh has been featured in many well-known publications and journals on art such as Marquis Who’s Who in American Art, Georgetown University Library Associates Newsletter, The Mastery of Alla Prima Painting by Frederic Taubes, and A House in the South: Old-Fashioned Graciousness for New-Fashioned Times by Frances Schultz and Paula S. Wallace.
Groh presently maintains an active studio out of his historic home, the eponymously named Gröheim, where he has created his masterpieces for the last 25 years. He instructs popular private art courses in the alla prima, figurative, and plein air styles. In his spare time he paints landscapes of ancient live oak trees reminiscent of his Southern childhood and he travels the world visiting museums.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery
Washington, District of Columbia
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University
New York City, New York
William D. Walsh Family Library at Fordham University
The Bronx, New York
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Washington, District of Columbia
Princeton, New Jersey
"The important point is your extraordinary achievement -- you are indeed a master portraitist and how lucky I am to have encountered you! I hate having photographs taken of me and I had a deep reluctance to sit for a portrait. You at once vanquished this fear by the gentleness of your approach to your task and I was comforted that you would show the pleasanter face of truth. But manifestly you went well beyond this to create a living subject. How grateful I am to you and your art!"
- DIANA TRILLING, Letter to the artist
French Chalk in Permanent Collection of Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
Oil Portrait in Permanent Collection of Columbia University's
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library