The Art of William Woodward



“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

                                                                              -Maya Angelou

William Woodward, the highly acclaimed International Artist and Educator, passed away on June 14, 2023, in Virginia. A third generation Washingtonian, William Woodward earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from The American University, studying alongside, among others, Frank Wright.

William Woodward was Professor Emeritus of Fine Art at George Washington University, program director for the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree for more than thirty years, and director of their overseas summer study program in Brittany, France. 

Over the course of a long academic career, Woodward taught drawing at the Sheridan School, American University, Madeira School, Saint Albans School, and the Corcoran School of Art. He was a frequent guest speaker at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art, and often presented lectures and demonstrations re-creating on stage the painting techniques of Old Masters.

Woodward Painting the Ringling Mural

William Woodward created the largest mural painted by an individual in the 20th Century: The Greatest Show on Earth, which is in the permanent collection of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

Many of his major commissions, murals and paintings are in public spaces, including: The Great Odyssey of Medicine, in the Cyrus Vesuna Conference Center at Inova Hospital, Fairfax, VA; the Jefferson at Monticello mural in the Thomas Jefferson Visitors Center at Monticello, Charlottesville, VA; A View of the Soldiers’ Home in Lincoln’s Time in the Lincoln Cottage Visitors Center, Washington, DC; Dolley Madison Rescuing the Portrait of George Washington, in the Montpelier Visitors Center, Madison, VA; A Loudon County Story, in the Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA; The Memorial Day Parade, in City Hall, Rockville, MD; and A Dance to the Music of Time in The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA. 

William Woodward is the only artist ever to design both sides of a United States coin, as winner of the Invitational Design Competition for the silver dollar minted in 1989 in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Congress. 

William Woodward is the only artist ever to design both the obverse and reverse of a United States coin, as winner of the invitational design competition for the silver dollar minted in 1989 by the U.S Treasury, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Congress.

Among his other awards, in 1991, the Departement de Finistére (Brittany) awarded him First Prize in the Concours de la Peinture en Plein-Aire. In 1995; the Society of the Four Arts Museum in Palm Beach, FL awarded First Prize to his painting, Avarice, in the 49th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Art.

He was the first Artist to be a recipient of The Leopold Schepp Foundation grant for independent study, which he used to attend the Accademia di Belli Arti in Florence, Italy; was awarded First Prize for the 49th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Art by the Society of the Four Arts Museum in Palm Beach, FL; and was awarded First Prize in the Concours de la Peinture en Pleine-Aire of Brittany, France.

Woodward’s works are to be found in numerous public and private collections including: the Speed Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky; Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland; Ogunquit Museum of Fine Arts, Ogunquit, Maine; National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC; American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC; Huntington Museum of Art, Pasadena, California; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; and The Corcoran Gallery of Art, currently within the Katzen Museum at American University.

WW painting Dangerous Places
WW Teaching in Brittany

“William Woodward was a man amongst men,” says fellow artist William Dunlap. His joy, enthusiasm, and mastery of his craft have inspired generations of students, colleagues, compatriots and fellow artists.

As an academician, Woodward was honored to have mentored several generations of artists in the materials and techniques of the Old Masters. Many of his former students have become noted contemporary artists, including local DC artists such as: Katty Biglari, Danni Dawson & Mike Francis, Teresa Duke, Ben Ferry, Gary Goldberg, Tom Hipschen, Kay Jackson, Robert Liberace, Joey Manlapaz, Sharon Moody, Clarice Smith, Joe Spollen, and Bradley Stevens.