Paul Ashbrook, painter, illustrator, etcher, lithographer, and teacher, was a leading figure in Cincinnati art circles in the early 20th century. He was born Paul Von Eschenbach in New York City in 1867. He began his training in 1885 at the Art Students League in New York where he studied with William Merritt Chase. Ashbrook had a studio at the 10th Street Studio Building, having started his career in New York as an illustrator for Charles Klackner.
In 1900, Ashbrook moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he continued his studies under Frank Duveneck at the Cincinnati Art Academy. From 1900 to 1918, he was director of the design department at Henderson Litho Company, and between 1914 and 1919, he taught illustration at the Cincinnati Art Academy. In 1917, he legally changed his name from Von Escenbach to Ashbrook as a result of the World War I and the anti-German sentiment that was surfacing. From 1920 to 1929, he worked for the Strobridge Litho Company, designing many of the Barnum and Bailey Circus posters. In 1921, his article "Lithography" was published in The Printing Art and he is noted as Head of the Department of Lithography at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati.
Ashbrook was a member of the Cincinnati Art Club and served as president in 1914. He was a founding member of the MacDowell Society, and a member of the Duveneck Society. In 1933, his work was included in the Society of American Etchers exhibition at the National Arts Club, and at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. He traveled frequently to Europe and Mexico beginning in 1926. In October 1987, Travels with Paul Ashbrook opened at the Taft Museum. The exhibition, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Cincinnati Art Academy, featured early 20th century sketches, letters and journals detailing his extensive travels. In 2007, the Cincinnati Art Galleries presented Paul Ashbrook & Friends, Thirty-five Paintings by Cincinnati Golden Age Artist Paul Ashbrook from his travels to Mexico and Europe. The Metropolitan Museum owns eight of his etchings.
Paul Ashbrook died in 1949 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico as a result of pneumonia.
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