untitled portrait (child with spoon)
George Charles Aid (1872-1938) was born in Quincy, Illinois. Around 1880 he moved with his family to St. Louis, where he attended the School of Fine Art. He was staff artist for St. Louis newspapers, and in 1899 went on to study in Paris at the Academie Julian, with Benjamin Jean-Joseph Constant, Jean-Paul Laurens, Lucien Simon and Charles Cottet. Aid stayed on in France for 15 years. He was successful as an artist, and was one of only 25 Americans whose work was illustrated in a special issue of “The Studio” on modern printmaking in 1902. He received an honorable mention in the Salon des artistes francais and a silver medal at the 1904 St. Louis fair. Aid's friends in Europe included American painters Richard E. Miller and Frederick Carl Frieseke. During this period, at least three other artists who later came to the Tryon colony in America -- Robert Lincoln Denison, Lawrence Mazzanovich, and Roy Elliott Bates -- were also living and painting in France. In 1906 the Swedish government purchased Aid's painting shown at the Salon, and he was given a special showing of etchings along with Clarence Gagnon, H.M. Luquiens, and Hermann Webster. Aid built an impressive reputation in etching during this period. In 1903 one of his prints was included in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. The art critic Charles DeKay, friend of Stieglitz and founder of the National Arts Club in 1899, wrote two articles praising Aid's etchings for the magazine “Arts and Decoration.” In Paris he met a music student, Mary Orr, whose father was a physician in Anderson, South Carolina. They were married in 1910 while in New York. They were living happily in a renovated olive mill at Bordighera, on the Italian Riviera, when World War broke out in 1914. The Aids were forced to return to America, and only a few of Aid’s paintings returned with him. The two oil paintings in the collection of the Asheville Art Museum are the only ones known to be in the collection of an American art museum. The Italian town where the Aids had lived was a center for grape growing, and in 1920 the couple learned that one of the vineyards at Tryon, North Carolina was for sale and they purchased it. George was instrumental in organizing the Tryon vineyard owners into a marketing association, enabling them better to meet changed conditions due to National Prohibition. Viticulture became once again very profitable for the Tryon growers, and Aid was able to concentrate on his fine art.During the 1920s George Aid developed a reputation as a portrait artist in an unusual medium. Aid's portrait work was lucrative and provided support for his family even during the Depression. In the 1930s the family spent nearly a year in Charlotte where Aid did portraits of prominent people. There Mrs. J.S. Myers commissioned him to do a large-scale painting, " The Baptism of Virginia Dare," commemorating early North Carolina history, which she donated to the new Mint Museum of Art. (This picture later was lent out to another institution, where it was incinerated in a fire.) Aid's health began to decline, and "Virginia Dare" was Aid's last major work. He went to Florida seeking to regain his strength, but nothing helped; he did manage to complete commissions to illustrate the buildings of North Carolina State College and Davidson College in French chalk. George C. Aid's work is in Tryon's history museum and Lanier Library as well as in private collections. His prints are in the collections of the St. Louis Art Museum, New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.