Born January 24, 1866, Bryan, Ohio
Died July 1, 1945, Shawnee-on-the-Delaware, Pennsylvania
In Old Lyme, summers, c. 1900, 1901
On a lark, Cullen Yates (originally named Owen), decided not to travel to Europe during the summer of 1900 but instead, joined a band of artist friends who were heading up to Connecticut to stay at the Griswold boardinghouse. Not an intimate friend of Henry Ward Ranger, but more of a friend of a friend, Yates nevertheless became an unsuspecting pioneer of the Lyme Art Colony. A handsome man with a full reddish beard, Cullen found himself immortalized in The Fox Chase, running with the others despite his formal gray suit, crisp white collar and tie. He returned to Old Lyme the following summer.
Artist Allen B. Talcott in a letter to Miss Florence, 1902
Yates discovered his interest in art as a boy in Ohio. He set his sights on studying art in New York and was accepted into the National Academy of Design by age 25. A few years later, he and his mother rented a little house near the art colony at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.
He studied with American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase while his mother served two meals a day to the students in the summer colony — a foreshadowing of the mothering of Miss Florence who he will meet six years later. Between his time at Shinnecock and Old Lyme, however, he traveled to Europe and studied art literally day and night.
He had classes at the Académie Julian during the day, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the afternoons, and the Academie Colorossi in the evening! He then returned to Ohio to teach. Determined to make his mark in the art world, he moved to New York where his active participation in art shows and memberships in art clubs put him in contact with the influencial artists who he would follow to Old Lyme.