John Leone, a New York-based artist who conducted frequent painting workshops in Millwood, Virginia died at his New York home on Thursday night.
Leone was 81.
“John Leone was well-known in our area art community and was with the Mill art show for over 7 years” said Clarke County Historian Mary Morris.
Known nationally for his large, exciting portraits of horses, the American West, and fox hunting, John and his wife, Marty, were longtime exhibitors at Art at the Mill.
Leone began his career in New York City and became a highly esteemed and sought after illustrator of books and magazines. The core of his work often centered on the distinctive landscape of the American experience. His love of the land led him to purchase a farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains where he focused on a career in the fine arts.
“Even after suffering a stroke which affected his remaining eye, Leone simply pushed his face an inch from the canvas and painted on” Morris said
John Leone was born in New York City in 1929. He received his formal art training at the School of Art & Design and at Cooper Union in New York City. Leone’s work has been featured on the dust jackets of many western and adventure novels published by Simon & Schuster and Grossett & Dunlap. His work has also been featured by galleries in New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Santa Fe, Scottsdale, Virginia and Palm Beach.
Mr. Leone conducted numerous solo exhibitions over his career including a two-man exhibition in Tokyo. Leone’s work has also been collected by several museums as well as numerous private collections.
Leone went to great lengths to ensure the authenticity of his paintings and the hounds and horses in his work were often his own. Leone’s quest for authenticity compelled him to join a local hunt near his farm in Upstate New York. He also attached an indoor arena to his barn so that be could ride even in the worst weather.
“I don’t think I’ve done a painting without horses in the last 15 years” Leone said once. “That’s what I enjoy doing.”