William Joseph McCloskey is a celebrated American painter of principally still life works. His paintings are very desirable among collectors, with his pieces fetching impressive prices and being regarded as among the finest examples of their genre.
McCloskey is known for his unique subject matter: oranges and tissue paper. His paintings are executed with the highest technical sophistication and attention to detail, the subject matter often appearing intensely real and rendered with an eye-catching depth.
His work is characterized by contrast. The brightly-colored citrus of which he is so famously enamored is often set against dark backgrounds. He would typically position several subjects at different angles to enhance the chiaroscuro to which he had great sensitivity and would explore textural contrast by the thoughtful placement of the oranges and tissue paper. An unusual subject choice but one from which William Joseph McCloskey would create great visual impact. The artist is also known for working in a horizontal format.
McCloskey was born in Philadelphia. He studied under Christian Schussele and Thomas Eakins when he was in his late teens and early twenties. He taught at the Denver Academy of art and, starting in 1884, operated his own portrait studio in Los Angeles.