John Costigan was born of Irish-American
parents in Providence, Rhode Island, February 29, 1888. He was
a cousin of the noted American showman, George M. Cohan, whose
parents brought the young Costigan to New York City and were
instrumental in starting him on a career in the visual arts.
At the H. C. Miner Lithographing Company,
Costigan worked his way up from his entry job as a pressroom
helper, through various apprenticeships, to the position of sketch
artist. In the latter capacity he was an uncredited designer
of posters for the Ziegfeld Follies and for numerous silent films.
Meanwhile, he had supplemented his very meager formal studies
in the fine arts with a self-teaching discipline that led to
his first professional recognition in 1920 with the receipt of
prizes for an oil painting and watercolor in separate New York
John Costigans first national recognition came in 1922
with his winning of the coveted Peterson Purchase prize of the
Art Institute of Chicago for an oil, Sheep at the Brook.
It marked the start of an unbroken winning streak that would
gain him at least one important prize per year for the remainder
of the decade. The nations art journalists and critics
began to take notice, making him the recurring subject of newspaper
features and magazine articles.Costigan had his first one-man
show of paintings at the Rehn Gallery on New Yorks 5th
Avenue in November, 1924, to be followed less than three years
later by another at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In addition, Costigans work has beenand continues
to beincluded, side-by-side with that of some of Americas
most high-profile artists, in museum and gallery exhibitions
throughout the country. His renown had peaked in the early 1930s,
by which time his work had been honored with nearly every major
award then being bestowed in the fine arts and had been acquired
for the permanent collections of several prestigious American
museums, including New Yorks Metropolitan.