John Costigan Information and Inventory

John Costigan

(1888 - 1972)

John Costigan 


It was perhaps my first or second visit to a National Academy of Design exhibition at the venerable NAD building in New York that I saw a small oil self-portrait of a fiery, white-haired man with an unforgettable look; it was John Costigan. I had no idea who he was, but I forgot neither his name nor the picture. Less than a year later, in 1968, my father acquired a large oil, entitled The Wood Chopper and His Family, dated 1945. Costigan’s distinctive heavy application of paint and his fixation on the woods, earth, trees and his own family as subjects were all evident in this example. Around 1984, while acquainted with the artist’s work and quietly seeking examples in local galleries, I encountered a rather eccentric gentleman who introduced himself as Costigan’s biographer. He was passionately devoted to Costigan’s work and informed me that “John Costigan is the most popular artist in the L.A. County Museum.” Skeptical, I asked him how he arrived at that conclusion. “Because there are post cards of all the major paintings,” he replied, “and the postcard of a single major Costigan snowscape outsells all other cards. Therefore, he must be the best liked artist in the museum.” He went on to inform me that on the strength of this one painting there were numerous serious collectors of Costigan in Southern California. Years later, during the winter of 1993, I was traveling with my wife and children in rural central Massachusetts trying to locate a private dealer, at night and in the cold. This very tension-riddled excursion resulted in a spectacular 1925 oil entitled Mother and Children that was quintessential Costigan at his best. I was delighted; my family was not. My last piece with a similar theme was obtained in 1999 from a small regional auction, and no family drama. Costigan continues to fascinate me and, I believe, will achieve the status of a true regionalist, like Benton or Burchfield.

John Costigan Gallery

No paintings by this author