A quick scan of the 78 lithographs, etchings, woodcuts and linocuts by George Biddle now at the Corcoran, and the notion strikes you that there are a lot of different styles here, some disquietingly familiar.
His work is the result of many forces. Biddle bounced around the world for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1914, from art colony to art colony, borrowing from if not imitating artists he became friends with -- many of whom he helped out with the groceries. Life as wandering artist was easy for a scion of the Philadelphia Biddle family.
His friends and influences were legion: Mary Cassatt, Degas, Santayana (he didn't limit himself to artists), George Miller, Jules Pascin, Diego Rivera. And he was the eternal student, changing styles to reflect his discovery of Gauguin, Carriere or Kuniyoshi.
Biddle also reflected the causes that were au courant in his circles: Sacco/Vanzetti; the Scottsboro boys; Tom Mooney, a labor leader thought to have been unjustly imprisoned; and the Spanish Civil War.
In many cases where he borrowed, he refined the style and produced finer results than the innovator. But he said of himself: "God endowed me with no unusual talent or creative imagination. He gave me a number of aptitudes and a zest for life."
The show runs at the Corcoran through December 2.