William Franklin Draper, the “Dean of American portraiture,” died on Oct 26. Cause of death was not released. He was 90.
Draper studied at Harvard University, the National Academy of Design in New York and the Cape Art School in Massachusetts before joining the Navy in 1942. He spent World War II hunkered in foxholes or on aircraft carrier decks sketching the battles as they happened and occasionally painting portraits of admirals. For his service, Draper reached the rank of lieutenant commander and earned a Bronze Star.
After he returned to the states, Draper developed a reputation in the art world as one of the premiere portrait painters in America. His portraits of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon hang in the National Portrait Gallery. Many of his military paintings and celebrity portraits reside in the National Gallery of Art and the Navy Art Collection in Washington D.C.
In 1999, Draper received the lifetime achievement award from the Portrait Society of America.