Jerome Myers was an American painter, illustrator and etcher who was a pioneer of the urban realist genre. Born in Petersburg, Virginia on March 20, 1867, Myers’ family moved around from Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Orleans before settling in New York City in 1886. He began taking art classes at the Cooper Union and the Arts Students League at night while working as an illustrator at the Herald Tribune during the day. Through two visits to Europe, once in 1896 and another in 1914, Myers understood the importance of integrating European art into America. To achieve this assimilation, he founded the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS), a group that exhibited both American and European art and helped accomplish his goal of bringing European art into the hearts of Americans.
During his visits to Europe, Jerome Myers appreciated the scenery but it could never match the raw energy that he felt when he visited and painted the Lower East Side of New York City. Most of his art consisted of an idealized reality of the immigrants in the slums of New York which was considered progressive artistry due to the subject matter. The paintings possessed energy and truth without the harshness of reality which was how Myers interpreted the area. He wrote, “Others saw ugliness and degradation there, I saw poetry and beauty." He produced other genre scenes, but his true calling was for New York City. He published an autobiography, Artist in Manhattan, a few years before his death in 1940.