Frederic Edwin Church
U.S.A. 1826 - 1900 U.S.A (d. 74)

Frederic Edwin Church was born into a wealthy mercantile family in Connecticut in 1826. As an American landscape painter, Church was enormously successful.  He became an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1849. This video captures the essence of Church's work and motivation
In 1860, Church married Isabel Carnes. They suffered a terrible loss when their two infant children died of diphtheria. During a six-month period of recovery, the couple lived in Jamaica. The following year, their son Frederic Joseph was born, the first of four children who would survive into adulthood.
Below, details captured his painting The Heart of the Andes, 1859, accompanied by a photograph of Church. 
At the age of 50 (1876), illness began to affect Church's output. Having rheumatoid arthritis, he eventually began to paint with his left hand and continued to produce works although on a much  slower pace. He devoted much of his energies during the final 20 years of his life to his house in Olana. Read more
Pierre Auguste Renoir
France 1841-1919 France (d. 78)
In the above painting, La Reverie (1877), Renoir portrayed his favorite, french actress, and model, Jeanne Samary.  

Born from humble beginnings, Renoir would not accept lack of money as a barrier to success or to a happy life. By age 40, he was acclaimed as a pioneer of Impressionism. He married Aline Charigot in 1890, had 3 sons, and lived long to enjoyed the company of his grandson who assisted him in his work.  Renoir can be viewed at age 77, in the footage, Ceux De Chez Nous - Sacha Guitry
Renoir acquired rheumatoid arthritis around age 50 (1892). In 1897 after being diagnosed, he sought treatment but it was crude and unsuccessful as the disease spread beyond the joints to affect the skin, nerves, blood vessels, and even the internal organs.  In 1908 he developed a debilitating hernia and had a stroke.  He regained some movement back in 1912 and continued to paint as illustrated in painting (below), Woman with a Yellow Turban 1917, Later Years Impressionism. Private Collection. 

The artist had malignant RA, meaning the disease had spread beyond the joints to affect the skin, nerves, blood vessels, and even the internal organs; the official cause of his death was congestion of the lungs. It was love that kept him living life to its fullest, the love of his work and his family who cared for him when he became disabled. 

One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity  ~  Renoir

Gilles Bourdos, documented his life in a film entitled "Renoir".  His collection consist of over 1600 pieces many of which are held in private collections. Learn More-video:   Pierre-Auguste Renoir Biography - Goodbye-Art Academy





Alexej von Jawlensky
Russia 1864 - 1941 Germany (d. 77)

Alexej von Jawlensky was born in Torzhok, a town in Tver Governorate, Russia, as the fifth child of Georgi von Jawlensky and his wife Alexandra (née Medwedewa). At the age of ten he moved with his family to Moscow.  In 1889 Jawlensky gave up an established career in the Russian Imperial Guard to study painting.  It wasn't until 1914 when he left Germany for Switzerland, his art manner began to take shape becoming an Expressionist Painter who gained a strong reputation for his portraits, the abstraction and stylisation of facial features.

Between 1917 and 1919 Jawlensky created a series of Heads known as the Mystical HeadsFrom 1918-1935 he painted the ,"Abstract Heads' in this series, he regarded the human face as the sign of an inner vision.  In his last series, The ‘Meditations‘, he had finally found his style, they are unmistakable his very own work.

Mystical Head: Head of a Girl (1918)

Saviour's face, distance Highness - Buddha II (1921)

Meditation (1934)

In 1921 he moved to backed to Germany and settled in Wiesbaden.  Three yars later, he joined Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Lyonel Feininger in forming a short-lived association called Der Blaue Vier (“The Blue Four”). He exhibited with them for some years, but in the 1930s, crippling arthritis limited his ability to paint.  When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, they prohibited him and other artists to paint and confiscated their work.  In 1937, the art was displayed at the notorious exhibition 'Degenerative Art' During this time his Rheumatoid Arthritis led to total paralysis. 


Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin

England 1870 - 1935 England (d. 64)

Aldin was one of the leading spirits in the Renaissance of British Sporting Art as illustrated in the above painting,  Lady Currie With Her Sons Bill And Hamish Hunting On Exmoor

Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin was the son of Charles, a well-to-do builder and contractor, and Sarah Aldin.  As a child, Aldin had an interest for sketching animals and the countryside.  He left school at the age of sixteen and enrolled in the Royal College of Art.   At the age of 20, Aldin developed rheumatic fever and in the same year sold his first drawing, which appeared in The Building News of 12 September 1890.[2] This was followed by a dog show picture purchased by The Graphic in 1891.[1]

Aldin suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, aggravated by falls in the hunting field, which forced him to give up the sport.[3]
Aldin seen with his beloved dog along side of his painting, Lt Col Ted Lyon Jumping A Hedge.
His serious and exacting portrayal of scenes of hunting, racing and horse portraiture is among the finest in British Sporting Art.  Aldin was the Master South Berkshire Hunt.  He was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1898 and is well known in particular for his sporting art, sensitive depictions of dogs, horses, and hunting scenes in the English countryside. His gaming images such as Chess & Whist are now considered scarce and highly collectable.  He was successful and admired in his own time, as a writer and illustrator of books and magazines, his images becoming more popular with the passage of time.

Raoul Dufy

France 1877-1953 France (d. Age 76)


This classically trained French painter, designer and graphic artist was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1935. At the time gold salts were used to treat RA. Dufy began to suffer from multiple-arthritis in 1937.  After an article in Life magazine brought his illness to the world’s attention, he was invited to Boston in 1950 to participate in a trial of corticosteroids. The therapy dulled the effects of his RA and in is appreciation he painted La Cortisone, which he gifted to, Merck and Company,  the drug company who developed the medication. 

Dufy continued to take steroids but experience the side effects that now make steroid therapy a stopgap, rather than the cure it was initially thought to be. After the treatment, Dufy, although not cured, was well enough to return to France and to continue painting until his death in 1953.  The side effects of the drugs contributed to his death three years latter. 

In 1963, the National Museum of Modern Art acquired a significant number of Dufy's works when his widow left a legacy to the nation. This collection comprising of more than 130 items are items he chose not to sell to collectors.

Raoul Dufy (Photo by Nick De Morgoli/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)


Natalia Goncharova

Russia 1881 - 1962 Paris, France (d. 81)


Self Portrait with Yellow Lilies 1907–08.                                Jews (Shabbat) 1911

Natalia Goncharova was born in the town of Nagaevo in the Tula Province in Russia to an elite Russian family. Her father, Sergei Goncharov, worked as an architect. Goncharova's mother, Ekaterina Il'ichna Beliaeva came from a family that had been musically influential.  In 1892, when Goncharova was eleven, her father moved the family to Moscow in search of greater financial opportunities.

Goncharova trained initially as a sculptress at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.  In 1910 she was one of the founding members of the Jack of Diamonds, Moscow's first exhibiting group of avant-garde Russian painters. That year also saw Gonchrova's first solo exhibition that included twenty paintings, and was denounced by the press for its "disgusting depravation." The police confiscated two female nudes and her 'Goddess of Fertility' painting. Goncharova was put on trial for pornography, yet was acquitted. In 1911, she also began exhibiting with the German based international collective, Der Blaue Reiter, a group known for merging spirituality with expressive freedom.

Goncharova suffered badly with arthritis in her hands and it is said that to carry on painting she had to tie the paint brushes to her wrist. During the 1950's, despite the fact that severe arthritis, she continued to paint and sought inspiration from current events. In the mid to late 1950s she painted a series entitled Outer Space, inspired by the Russian space program. Goncharova died in 1962 after a long struggle with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Read More:2, 3.


 Maude Lewis

Nova Scotia 1903 - 1970 N.S (d. 67)


Maude had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 

She began her artistic career by selling hand-drawing Christmas cards. In 1933 the cards sold for twenty five cents each. Her passion for the art blossomed as she grew, seeking larger and diverse canvases she painted on various surfaces such as pulp boards, cookie sheets, masonite, there were no limitations. Learn more:  Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows

Between 1945-1950, people began to stop at Maud's home to buy her paintings for two or three dollars. Only in the last three or four years of Maude's life did her paintings begin to sell for seven to ten dollars. She achieved national attention as a result of an article in the "Star Weekly" in 1964 and in 1965 she was featured on CBC-TV's Telescope . Unfortunately, her arthritis deprived her from completing many of the orders that resulted from the national exposure.  With a focus on subjects in nature and ordinary life and a folk style of painting, she became one of the best-known artists in Canadian history.

Edward Burra
UK 1905 - 1976 UK (d. 72)


The English painter named Edward Burra was home-schooled from the age of 12, as he suffered from congenitally inherited rheumatoid arthritis and Pernicious Anemia

At the age of 16 he enroll at Chelsea College of Art, from where he proceeded to the RCA. His health prevented him from working with oil paints so he became a master at using water-colours or gouache to produce rich and dense colours as in any oil paintings.   

Later, in the mid-30s, Burra landed in Harlem at the height of its cultural Renaissance. It was at this time that he produced some of his most instantly identifiable works, including Zoot Suits (left), depicting dapperly dressed West Indian men in post-war Notting Hill, 1948. In 2011, this painting sold for £2,057,250.00.

"I Never Tell Anybody Anything" The Life and Art of Edward Burra

He continued to be obsessed with his work to the exclusion of all else, explaining in a rare moment of candor that the only time he was not in pain was when he was painting. In a filmed interview given towards the end of his life, Burra declared, or rather drawled, "I think you ought to work, to paint. Otherwise, if you don't do enough painting, what's the point of it all?" He died in 1976 at the age of 72 having lived far longer – and triumphantly – than anyone could possibly have predicted.




Georgette Chen
China 1906 - 1993 Singapore (d. 76)


Georgette Chen was born as Chang Li Ying and was the fourth of 12 children. The wealthy family lived in Zhejiang Province, China. She received her art education in Paris, New York, and Shanghai.  She inherited rheumatoid arthritis  from her father, Zhang Renjie (Chang Sen Chek), who suffered from a form of arthritis and later developed an eye condition which eventually required him to wear dark glasses. Zhang's disease crippled one of his feet giving him a lurching gait.

As her RA became worse, she had relied on cortisone for relief (15 years) and began gold salt injections along with herbs such as snake wine and root of tree - for wind. In 1970 her health was quickly deteriorating having long attacks of RA.  At age 66, she was diagnosed as having osteoporosis of the spine. The following year she had a severe fall, fractured her leg and was hospitalized. After the 2nd fall, she was hospitalized for 12 years.  Georgette Chen died of complications from Rheumatoid arthritis at Mount Alvernia Hospital.

She was awarded the Singapore Cultural Medallion in 1982. Settling in Singapore in 1954, she taught at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts until her retirement in 1980.  The Worlds of Georgette Chen features a three-part docudrama based on her life and her contribution to the development of the birth of the Nanyang art style in Singapore.

Nancy Spero
USA 1926 - 2009 USA (d. 83)

Nancy Spero. 2014. oil on board.  by Victoria Miro. London.

Nancy Spero was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1926 to a family with a Jewish background. A year later, her family moved to Chicago, where Spero remained until age 23. Her father, Henry Spero was a dealer of used print-presses and like so many fathers was apparently indifferent to her decision to become an artist.  After graduating from High School, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met her future husband, painter Leon Golub. Spero graduated in 1949 and spent the following year in Paris.

Galvanized by the political events of the Vietnam War, Nancy Spero dedicated herself for five years to creating a group of gouache paintings on paper, titled The War Series. In these works, Spero not only expressed her rage at the violence and oppression of the war, but also introduced many of the images and themes that would continue to find their place in her work, and anticipated the post-modern aesthetic of fracture, dissonance, and collage.

Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, which progressively affected control of movement in her hands, Spero eventually decided to employ assistants, turning her practice into a collaborative process that would allow her to continue to create until the very end of her life.
Read More, 2, Video Interview

 From the late 1980s until the early 2000s, Spero had installed installation pieces all across the world.  In the final decades of her life she experimented with textiles and installation. Prestigious public art commissions came her way: for instance, the lavish, glittering mosaic murals that since 2001 have adorned the subway station under New York's Lincoln Center. Her pieces varied in mood from lacerating and shocking to playful, comical and celebratory, but for most of her career she grappled with that brutally simple, tortuously difficult question: in the face of so much cruelty and suffering in the world, what are an artist's ethical and political responsibilities.


John Pickering
England 1934 - 2016 England (d.82)

John Pickering trained in classical sculpture and life drawing at Bilston and Birmingham Schools of Art. For a number of years following art school, he worked as a stone carver on projects including Saint Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham and as an assistant in a wood pattern-making factory. (1, 2)

At the age of 26, after a sudden traumatic injury to his elbow joint which resulted after a fall off of his bicycle, he was later diagnosed as having Rheumatoid arthritis. In the early stages he had about half a dozen operations on his hands which doctors hoped would ease the pain as the joints became increasingly twisted and disfigured.

He was also treated with steroids in the late Fifties and early Sixties to reduce the swelling of the joints. Like most treatments for rheumatoid arthritis there was an improvement but then the benefit gets less and less as your body gets used to the medication.  Read More


Zhang Cuiying
China 1962 - present


This is the true story of Zhang Cuiying (pseudonym Zhang Caixing), a Falun Dafa practitioner and one of the world's finest contemporary classical Chinese painters.
Zhang Cuiying was born into a poor family where  no one could have predicted that she would become a  celebrated artist.  In 1985, she married and later gave birth to a daughter. In 1991 the family moved to Australia. Like other immigrants in Australia, Zhang found a job, packing frozen vegetables. Her health deteriorated by 1997 to the point she could not even raise a tea cup and had to completely give up painting. After having seen all the doctors for her Rheumatoid Arthritis and spending thousands in medical expenses, she could not be cured and the condition became worse. Read More

Zhang was introduced to exercises and meditations as a way to treat the severe rheumatoid arthritis she had been suffering from since the age of 34. She credits Falun Gong for her complete recovery and has been promoting its healing capabilities all over the world. (1)