Potthast was born June 10, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of working class, German immigrants Henry Ignatz Potthast (a chair and cabinet maker) and Berrnardina Scheifers (a milliner and helper-clerk) and grew up in Covington, Kentucky.
He studied at the McMicken School with Thomas Noble (1870-1881); in Antwerp with Polydore Beaufaux and Charles Verlat (1881-1882); in Munich with Nikolaus Gysis (1882-1883), Ludwig vonLoefftz, Carl vonMarr and Alexander vonWagner (1883-1884); in Paris at the Academie Julian with Lefebvre and Boulanger (1885-1888), Cormon (1887) and possibly with Paul Laurens (1888); art lessons at the Cincinnati Art Academy (1887).
He was an illustrator for book companies and magazines (1878-1891).
Memberships include Allied Artists of America; American Water Color Society (1895; Brd. of Directors); Art Club of Philadelphia (1898); Cincinnati Art Club (1891); Dragonfly Club, Cincinnati (1886-1889); Fine Arts Federation of NY (1910-1917); League of American Artists; Lotus Club (life member, 1912); National Arts Club, life member; National Academy of Design, ANA 1899 and NA 1906; N.Y. Water Color Society; N.Y. Society of Painters; Painters & Sculptors Gallery Assoc.; Salmagundi Club; Soc. of American Artists; Soc. of Men Who Paint the Far West (1911-20); Society of Western Painters (1897-1898); Societe des Artistes, Paris.
Awards include a medal at the Royal Academy, Munich (1885); Thomas B. Clark Prize, NAD (1899); Evans Prize, AWCS (1901); Gold Medal, AWCS (1902); Inness Prize, SC (1903, 1906); Silver Medal, St. Louis Univ. Expo. (1904); Morgan Prize, SC (1904); Hudnut Prize, AWCS (1914); Silver Medal, Pan-Pac. International Expo., San Francisco (1915), Griscom Prize, AWCS (1926); Osborne Purchase Prize, AWCS (1927).
One-man exhibitions include Barton’s Art Store, Cincinnati (1892); Montross Gallery, NY (1903); Traxel Art Gallery, Cincinnati (1903); Katz Galleries, NYC (1903); Macbeth Galleries, NY (1912); Young’s Art Gallery, Chicago (1912, 1920); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Wash., D.C. (1924); Feragil Galleries, NY (1924); Closson Galleries, Cincinnati (1926); Grand Central Art Gallery, NY (1927).
Memorial & Retrospectives include Traxel Art Gallery (1927); Grand Central, Closson, Feragil Galleries (1928); Hirschl & Adler Galleries, NY (1962, 1968); Cincinnati Art Museum (1965); Ira Spanierman Gallery, NY (1966); Chapellier Galleries, NY (1968); The Taft Museum (1968); Corcoran Gallery of Art (1973); L.A. County Museum of Art (1975); touring show from J.B. Speed Art Museum, to Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, to Beaumont Art Museum, TX (1985-1988).
Potthast’s brother named his son Edward Henry Potthast (1880-1941) and Potthast’s namesake became his student. Uncle and son painted together in Potthast’s New York City studio for years and traveled to Holland to paint there as well. The two men hung side by side at exhibitions starting in 1911, and when Potthast died his namesake inherited a great many of his paintings. Over the years both men’s canvases were intermingled and when the nephew died, all the paintings in the studio were sold, almost all bearing the same signature but having been painted by TWO men named Edward Henry Potthast.
Pierce, Patricia Jobe, “Edward Henry Potthast, More Than One Man,” International Fine ARt Collector, Premiere Edition, 1991.