Benjamin Sayre Cory Kilvert was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1879 and was the son of Francis Edwin Kilvert, mayor of Hamilton, Ontario(1877-78), Conservative Member of Parliament(1878-1887) and Collector of His Majesty's Customs for the Port of Hamilton(1887-1910).
As a very young man, Kilvert left Canada to study at the Art Students' League in New York City, where his instructor was Robert Henri(1865-1929) a member of the so-called Eight, whose members in painting life as it actually appears without making any attempt to romanticize it were stigmatized as "The Ashcan School". Kilvert was strongly influenced by this approach to painting as were many of Henri's other students who included George Bellows, Rockwell Kent and Edward Hopper.
Kilvert was extremely well known for his illustrations that appeared in many books and magazines in both the USA and Canada from approx. 1902 to the mid 1930's.
He was less well known as a fine arts painter, but his work was greatly respected by critics and his fellow artists. He was a member of The American Watercolor Society and also of two prestigious organisations for artists and writers, namely the Salmagundi Club and the Dutch Treat Club, both of which were located in New York City where he lived for many years. A painting of his is in the collection of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, which, arguably, holds the best collection of Maine art in the USA as probably the entireworld.
Kilvert, his wife and two children summered for many years on the coast of southern Maine where he created many of his paintings. In his earlier years in Upstate New York, he worked in oils and tempera and created landscopes and still lifes. In later years, he turned to watercolors and this proved to be his best medium. He painted many fine seascapes in Maine and in the fall and winter of 1934, he painted scenes of Charleston, South Carolina, where he and his family went so he could recover from a heart attack.
In the early 1930's, he was commissioned to paint several very large illustrated maps. Specifically, these showed the history of the St. Lawrence River Valley in Canada(these weredone for a steamship company in Canada and was in the stairwell of one of its transatlantic ships, the name of which is no longer known). He also did two maps for the Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Valley, New Jersey. One of these shows the Pine Valley course, and the other shows the St. Andrews course in Scotland. Each of these clubs thinks the other's golf course is the second best one in the entire world. So it's doubtful if this difference of opinion will ever change.
Kilvert's son, Benjamin Sayre Cory Kilvert Jr., has in his possession an illustrated map of the Belvoir Hunt in England, that Kilvert's widow bought at a Sotherby auction in New York City in the 1950's. No information is available on who commissioned it in 1931, but it may have been the Duke of Rutland whose ancestral home is Belvior Castle in Lincolnshire. It's possible that he put it in the auction to raise some cash, but this is only a guess. This particular map measures 5 by 6 feet and is painted on wood.
There is a fine Kilvert oil painting in the lobby of the Hotel des Artistes on West 67th Street in New York City. It hangs over the two elevators and shows a scene of galleons a popular subject for several artists in the 1920's who interpreted the discovery of the New World with canvases showing galleons at sea and in port.
Cory Kilvert died in 1946 at the Salmagundi Club in New York City while playing pool with some of his artist friends. In the 1970's one of his illustrations was included in an exhibit of renderings by North America artists at the New York(City) Historical Society.
(This biography is from the archives of AskART.comand was written by B. Cory Kilvert Jr. - son of the artist)