Skip to content
Back to top Back to Artists«

Joseph Delaney (1904-1991)

1 of 3
Gospel, 1940 oil on canvasboard 24" x 17 3/4&...
Gospel, 1940
oil on canvasboard
24" x 17 3/4", signed and dated


Art Students League Cafeteria, 1941 oil on canvas...

Art Students League Cafeteria, 1941
oil on canvas
28 1/4 x 35 inches / 71.8 x 88.9 cm

Washington Market (NYC), 1945 oil on canvas 25 1/4...
Washington Market (NYC), 1945
oil on canvas
25 1/4" x 22", signed and dated


Artist Information

The younger brother of Beauford, Joseph Delaney was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and was raised in a household governed by his father, a Methodist minister. After high school, Delaney lived the life of a homeless traveler in his late teens and twenties before serving three years in the Eighth Illinois National Guard. In 1930, he decided to become a professional artist like his older brother and moved to New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League with Thomas Hart Benton and anatomist George Bridgeman. Joseph Delaney’s time at the Art Students League had a profound effect on his artistic development, and he resolved to commit himself to a more populist art, depicting the vibrancy of American life. During the Great Depression, he painted numerous portraits on commission, was employed by the WPA (1936-1939), and exhibited yearly in the Washington Square Park Outdoor Art Show. Known for densely narrative paintings focusing on New York City’s people and places, Delaney was drawn to the human figure and the events, struggles, and triumphs of ordinary existence. In 1968, he summarized his experiences as a New York artist in a small pamphlet entitled, Thirty-six Years Exhibiting in the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show. In 1985, Delaney returned to Knoxville to live out the remainder of his life. He stayed an artist in residence at the University of Tennessee, which mounted his first retrospective in 1986. While Delaney was well known in Tennessee, the 2006 traveling exhibition Life in the City: The Art of Joseph Delaney helped him achieve greater national recognition.


The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Art Museum, Princeton University, NJ
Harlem Art Collection, New York State Office of General Services, Albany, NY and
New York, NY
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, Independence, MO
Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tuscon, AZ
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN