Robert Riggs, “The Pool”, 1933, Lithograph, Edition of 50, 37.3 x 49.6 cm, Private Collection
Printmaker and illustrator Robert Riggs was born in Decatur, Illinois and first studied art at Millikin University there, moving to New York and the Art Students League in 1915 when he received a scholarship underwriting two years of study. Riggs subsequently joined the advertising firm A. W. Ayer & Company of Philadelphia. While working there, Riggs also studied at the Académie Julian.
Returning to Philadelphia, in addition to his work at A. W. Ayer, Riggs also worked as a freelance magazine illustrator. He was strongly influenced by the work of George Bellows, producing a series of boxing prints in his own style, followed by a series of lithographs depicting circus-related subjects. In 1940, Riggs produced four lithographs dealing with modern medical practice commissioned by publisher Smith, Kline, and French.
Of the eighty-four prints Riggs made over two decades, most were produced in the mid-1930s. Riggs gave up printmaking around 1950 but continued to produce advertising illustrations for major corporate clients. He was elected to associate membership in the National Academy of Design in 1939 and bercame a full member in 1946. Between 1961 and 1963, Riggs taught at the Philadelphia College of Art.