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Born in Boston in 1869, Sears Gallagher had impressive family lineage that extended back to the Pilgrims. He began his art education locally, later refining his skills at the Académie Julian in Paris working under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens.
Gallagher began his career as an artist-reporter for a local Boston newspaper and illustrating textbooks for the publishing firm of Ginn & Company. However, by the early 1900s he had established himself as a professional artist specializing in etchings and watercolors. By 1920, he had produced 138 etchings of the historic streets and landmarks of Boston. He exhibited throughout United States and had several solo shows in Boston. His work also appeared at the Paris salons.
Gallagher's memberships included the Guild of Boston Artists, the Boston Society of Water Color Painters, the Brooklyn Society of Etchers and the Chicago Society of Etchers. He won several awards and prizes, among them the City of Boston Tercentenary medal in 1930. He taught at Boston University and spent his later years in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he continued to paint and etch until his retirement in the mid-1940s. Gallagher died in Boston in 1955.
Gallagher's work is represented in important public collections throughout the United States and abroad, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; New York Public Library; Boston Public Library; the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.