Robert Oliver Skemp

Dates1910 - 1984
RolesArtist
NationalityAmerican

Robert Oliver Skemp was born in Pennsylvania to the artist and prominent rug designer, Olive Hess Skemp (1887–1962). Skemp attended the Art Students League in New York where he practiced under the instruction of Thomas Hart Benton, George Luks, and Harry Ballinger. He continued his artistic education at the Grand Central Art School in New York and with a trip to France and Spain. As a young man, he also joined the merchant marines and travelled by ship to Europe, Asia, India, and South America.

Skemp mainly created colorful advertising images, including pin-up style scenes for Coca Cola and Ford Motor Company and illustrations for magazines such as Colliers, Liberty, and Saturday Evening Post. Leaving behind his commercial work in New York and Chicago to settle in Connecticut, he specialized in portraits of American officials, businessmen, and other wealthy patrons later in his career, including General Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964), New York Congressman Walter Gresham Andrews (1889–1949) (Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives), and art collector William Hayes Ackland (1855–1940) (William Hayes Ackland Estate Colleciton). Skemp was a founding member of the American Society of Marine Arts in 1978 and often painted detailed illustrations of 19th century clipper ships and other maritime scenes.