Nelson Shanks was born in Rochester, NY. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York City. He is a world-renowned painter, art historian, teacher, connoisseur, and collector, and he has been influential in the revival of classical realism in the United States.
He is best known for his portraits, and among his notable commissions are President William Jefferson Clinton, Princess Diana, Pope John Paul II, and Luciano Pavarotti. In 2006 Governor Rendell presented Nelson with the Governor’s Distinguished Arts Award, which recognizes a Pennsylvania artist of international fame whose creations and contributions enrich the Commonwealth.
Nelson and his wife Leona founded Studio Incamminati, which translates from the Italian as “those who are progressing.” Located in Philadelphia, the Studio provides a place where artists can study painting and acquire skills for successful artistic careers.
Nelson has taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, George Washington University, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He also established and apprentice program at his Bucks County home and studio where artists received room, board, and instruction at no cost.
Mr. Shanks lived in Solebury Township for over 30 years. He passed away in 2015.