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Early Colorado women artists

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Title:
Early Colorado women artists
Creator:
Allen, Holly Carol
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English
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ix, 158 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

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Women artists -- Biography -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Women artists ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
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Biography. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
collective biography ( marcgt )
Biography ( fast )

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Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, 2007.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 151-158).
General Note:
Department of History
Statement of Responsibility:
by Holly Carol Allen.

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University of Colorado Denver
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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166326395 ( OCLC )
ocn166326395

Full Text
EARLY COLORADO WOMEN ARTISTS
By
Holly Carol Allen
B.S., University of Colorado at Denver, 1981
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
iri History
2007


2007 by Holly Carol Allen
All rights reserved


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Holly Carol Allen
has been approved
by
Date


Allen, Holly Carol (M.A., History)
Early Colorado Women Artists
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Thomas J. Noel
ABSTRACT
The lives and work of women artists have, for the most part, been
neglected in the historical narratives of the development of the Western frontier.
Yet, women artists made a significant contribution to the development of cultural
institutions, art education, and the promotion of women as painters, illustrators,
photographers and sculptors, especially in Colorado. Many of the women artists
who settled in the West studied art in the East and in Europe, bringing with them
an artistic tradition, which educated and edified as well as provided a permanent
record of the new frontier communities. This thesis looks at the womens
contribution to the development of the artistic culture in Colorado and the
profession of women as artists, through the biographical and cultural perspective
of the individual artists practicing in the state from 1860 through the early part of
the 20th century.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Thomas J. Noel


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my mom and dad. I think they would have been proud to
see me finish this. I wish they were here.
v


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My thanks to John Hull and my sister, Nancy, who encouraged me to continue
when I was ready to give up. I also wish to thank my supervisor and friend,
Kathryn Maes, for allowing me the time I needed to work on the research.
Thanks also to my advisor, Thomas Noel for his support, and Professors James
Fell and James Whiteside for their advice.
vi


CONTENTS
List of Figures................................ix
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..................................1
2. WOMEN ARTISTS IN THE 19 CENTURY............. 4
3. EARLY COLORADO ARTISTS.......................14
Mary Elisabeth Achey.......................16
Esther Yates Frazier.......................18
4. DENVERS ART COMMUNITY ......................19
Denver Arts Education, Organizations and Clubs. . 20
Helen Henderson Chain......................28
Henrietta Bromwell.........................34
Elisabeth Spalding.........................38
Emma Richardson Cherry'....................42
Anne Evans.................................44
5. THE COLORADO SPRINGS ART COLONY.............47
Rose Kingsley.............................51
Eliza Greatorex...........................55
Anne Lodge Parrish........................56
Alice Stewart Hill........................58
vii


Katherine Smalley
60
Anne Van Briggle Ritter....................60
6. LEADVILLE.....................................62
Mary Hallock Foote.........................63
7. WOMEN ARTISTS IN THE 20th CENTURY.............75
Federal Art Projects.......................79
Elsie Ward Hering..........................83
Laura Gilpin...............................85
Ila McAfee.................................96
Muriel Sibell Wolle.......................98
Eve Drewelowe.............................104
Louise Emerson Ronnebeck .................108
Gladys Caldwell Fisher....................114
Nadine Kent Drummond......................118
Ethel and Jenne Magafan...................121
8. LESSER KNOWN AND
VISITING ARTISTS IN COLORADO..............126
9. CONCLUSION...................................148
viii
BIBLIOGRAPHY
151


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
4.1 Mount of the Holy Cross, Helen Henderson Chain.............33
4.2 Mill, Henrietta Bromwell...................................36
4.3 Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods, Elizabeth Spalding. 40
5.1 The Gate of the Garden of the Gods, Rose Kingsley..........53
5.2 Helen Hunt Jackson, Anne Parrish...........................57
6.1 Underground, Mary Hallock Foote............................69
7.1 Mesa Verde, Laura Gilpin...................................90
7.2 The Streets of Blackhawke, Muriel Sibell Wolle............100
7.3 Swinging Saplings, Eve Drewelowe..........................105
7.4 The People vs Mary Elizabeth Smith, Louise Ronnebeck . .112
7.5 Rocky Mountain Sheep, Gladys Caldwell Fisher..............116
7.6 Colorado State Fair, Nadine Drummond......................120
7.7 Lawrence Massacre, Ethel Magafan..........................122
7.8 House in Leadville, Jenne Magafan.........................125
8.1 Untitled (Rocky Mountain Landscape).......................136
IX


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION WOMEN ARTISTS IN THE WEST
Until the end of the twentieth century, the art created by women in the
West had been for the most part overlooked and disregarded. This may be due, as
historians Phil Kovinik and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinik assert, primarily to a long-
held view that only male artists can effectively capture the true vitality and virility
of the West in their work.1 The American West itself was associated with
masculine images and ideals, so it is no surprise that Western art has had a long
tradition of male artists depicting the rough and untamed life in the new frontier.
Artists like Frederick Remington and Charles Russell portrayed a land of robust
cowboys, proud natives, galloping horses, and stampeding herds of buffalo, while
Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt painted huge epic romanticized landscapes of
towering majestic mountains.
As the historiography of the West developed in the late twentieth century
to incorporate more comprehensive information that included the experiences of
women and minorities, historians began to utilize the diaries, letters and novels
1 Kovinik, Phil and Yoshiki-Kovinik, Marian. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American
West. University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998. Pg xvii
1


written by women to broaden the understanding of the western experience. Yet,
the images produced by Western women artists were still largely ignored. In some
cases, it is difficult to track the work of women artists as it was common practice
for women to alter their first names or use only initials in order to conceal their
gender and compete more effectively with male artists in the marketplace.
Despite certain gender limitations and prejudices, the West provided more
opportunities for women, as it was less encumbered by many of the traditional
social hierarchies and cultural restrictions. Western women thus had more
freedom than their Eastern counterparts in almost every sphere of creative
endeavor, and they pushed the boundaries of femininity sooner and farther.2 For
example, while American women across the country did not get the right to vote
until 1920, four Western states allowed women to vote prior to 1900 Wyoming
in 1869, Utah in 1870, Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896. Colorados first state
constitution allowed women to vote in school elections in 1876, which were
considered within the traditional sphere of womens concerns and influences. They
received full franchise in Colorado state elections in 1893.
The largest body of works by Western women artists in the late 19th
century were produced in Colorado and Utah, the most heavily populated of the
western states. In Denver and Colorado Springs, art schools, galleries, exhibitions
and public competitions were an important part of the cultural life of the cities by
2 Trenton, Patricia (editor). Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-
1945. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London. Pg x
2


the turn of the century, in many cases due to the efforts of practicing women artists
in those communities.
These women artists in Colorado will be discussed, in the context of their
roles as artists and cultural architects, and their environment in the frontier West.
Their numbers were relatively small and their inclusion in historical narratives are
nearly nonexistent, but the impact they made on the cultural life of Colorado was
significant.
3


CHAPTER 2
WOMEN ARTISTS IN THE 19th CENTURY
In early nineteenth century America, in the fashion of English training,
upper and middle class women and young girls were taught the ladylike skills of
fine penmanship, drawing, watercolor painting and intricate needlework.
Needlework and painting were considered appropriate handicrafts for women, and
most were self-taught amateurs. However, in the more educated families, women
were able to study art by taking private lessons from professional artists or
attending private drawing academies. These drawing schools were formed after
the American Revolution as professional European artists relocated to America.
As a matter of practicality, most women were trained in the fundamental
skills of sewing, as a function of being a successful housekeeper, in order to make
clothing, quilts, bed rugs, samplers and decorative embroidery. The more creative
of these endeavors are generally considered in the category of folk art. Girls were
taught quilting skills at a very young age and traditionally were expected to
complete a dozen-and-one quilts by the time of their marriage. The finest of these
was designated the bridal quilt. Quilting thus was a significant part of womens
4


lives in nineteenth century America and for many, the bright colors and
imaginative patterns were the principle outlet of creative expression in a life of
unrelenting toil. 3
Quiltmaking encouraged individual creativity and design, using basic
concepts of color, line, texture and shape. The quilt artist exploited the design
possibilities through her color relationships, value contrasts, and inventive
variation of the original pattern. In the hands of an imaginative quiltmaker, many
quilts based upon conventional designs achieved true artistic stature.4 There are
two basic types of quilts: the pieced quilt consisting of geometrical shapes that can
vary from basic forms to elaborate abstracts and the appliqued quilt which is made
by sewing flowers and other realistic forms onto the quilt top. While American
and European painting at this time was purely representational, women
quiltmakers were pioneers in abstract design.5 Quilt patterns and styles varied
greatly by geographic, ethnic and economic divisions. Genteel Eastern women
produced, among others, elaborate crazy quilts, made of expensive satins, silks and
velvets, detailed with intricate embroidery to decorate their sitting rooms. The
term crazy quilt referred to the random shapes of various types of fabrics sewn
together and fancifully embroidered at the seams. Slave women made story quilts,
3 Rubenstein, Charlotte S. American Women Artists from Early Indian Times to the Present. G.K.
Hall & Co., Boston, 1982. Pg 30.
4 Dewhurst, C. Kurt, MacDowell, Betty, and MacDowell, Marsha. Artists in Aprons: Folk Art by
American Women. E.P. Dutton, New York, 1979. Pg 48
5 Ibid. Pg xvii
5


using local legends, biblical tales and accounts of astronomical occurrences passed
down from oral tradition. Abolitionists made underground railroad quilts that
signified the route for slaves escaping to the north, and suffragists sewed quilts
embracing themes of the womens rights movement. In the West, quilts made by
settlers on the westward journey sometimes reflected patterns and colors that were
influenced by Native American weaving and basketry.
Another form of folk art traditionally created by women w-as the memorial
or mourning picture. Embroidered or painted, these pictures were created as a
memorial for a departed hero or loved one, and often given as a gift to the family
of the deceased. They first appeared as embroidered pictures in eighteenth
century America, and became particularly popular after the death of George
Washington, one of the first heroes of the young nation, in 1799. Later, as women
began painting them, the brushstrokes were often applied to emulate needlework
stitches, thus retaining to some extent the original embroidered style of the work.
Mourning pictures were comprised of standard motifs that included classical urns
mounted on tombstones, weeping willow trees, sobbing figures, and a village or
church in the background. The mourning picture, with its somewhat overdrawn
sentimentality, became a favorite subject for the romantic schoolgirl artist, who
was frequently reminded of her own mortality. This preoccupation with death
6


encouraged the creation of countless mourning pieces commemorating heroic
figures or lamenting deceased relatives.6
As educational reform created more opportunities for women, a division
developed between women who saw themselves as amateurs and those beginning
to consider art as a profession. The number of women entering the field of art
expanded rapidly after the Civil War. Prior to the 1860s a number of schools of
design offered instruction to women in the industrial and decorative arts, which
were closely related to traditional domestic skills and considered much more
suitable for women with artistic talent. One of the most reputable of these, the
Cooper Union Free Art School for Women, began in New York City in the 1850s.
By the early 1860s traditional art academies, previously the domain of men, had
begun admitting women interested in academic training in drawing and painting.
The American academies, modeled after European institutions, evolved from
informal programs to more structured, professionalized curricula. And, the
enrollment of women into these programs, and eventually, into the field, increased
dramatically. By the 1880s, the women enrolled in arts schools outnumbered the
men. The 1870 U.S. census listed 414 women in the professions of artists,
sculptors and art teachers. By 1890 the number had risen to nearly 11,000.7 These
6 Dewhurst, C. Kurt, MacDowell, Betty, and MacDowell, Marsha. Artists in Aprons: Folk Art by
American Women. E.P. Dutton, New York, 1979. Pg 66-67.
7 Swinth, Kirsten. Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American
Art, 1870-1930. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 2001. Pg 3
7


figures parallel the expansion of opportunities for women to enter universities and
other professions previously reserved for men.
The latter half of the nineteenth century is still considered a breakthrough
period for women artists, having won the right to study alongside men, thus
legitimizing their place in the world of art. However, in many academies, the life
drawing classes, which included nude models, were still segregated by gender, if
available at all to women. It was considered a breach of decomm for a woman to
view the nude human body. Excluding women from life-drawing courses in the
fine arts academies was done in order to protect their purity. Art historian
Germaine Greer comments that while prohibition from life drawing classes
negatively impacted the artistic development of the woman artist, much more
significant...was the way in which women were expected to both see and to render
the nude. It had been said that women were not sensual enough to be great artists:
the fact was that female sensuality was repugnant to accepted taste and
inaccessible to most female artists.8
While women were being accepted into the traditional art schools and
academies, their entrance into many of the professional arts organizations was
limited. In 1877, Helena de Kay Gilder, long time friend of Leadville artist Mary
Hallock Foote, founded the Society of American Artists. Ironically, that
organization, founded by a woman, only reluctantly admitted women members in
8 Greer, Germaine. The Obstacle Race. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 1979. Pg 320
8


small numbers. By 1889, only 4 of 108 members were women.9 Kirsten Swinth,
in Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American
Art 1870-1930, suggests that the opposition to allowing women into the
professional art academies and organizations seems to have been reluctance to
allow women to pass judgment on the work of male artists, in both the informal
settings of club meetings and the formal arenas of exhibition juries.10 This is not
an unreasonable assumption, considering that at this time, women were also not
allowed to serve on courtroom juries due to similar concerns.
In order to sell artwork, it was important to exhibit ones work to the
public. Toward this end, women often banded together to create support for their
exhibitions. In 1876, one group initiated a Womans Pavilion at the Philadelphia
Centennial Exposition, which included womens artwork as part of a general
survey of modern-day female accomplishments.11 The Womans Pavilion had
over 40,000 square feet of exhibition space and included work of nearly 1500
women from at least 13 countries. This type of exposition, designed specifically to
exhibit the creative work of women, became a standard feature at future fairs. But,
it was not accomplished without a certain amount of controversy. For some, the
separation of womens artwork from the main competitive art exhibit in the
9 Swinth, Kirsten. Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American
Art, 1870-1930. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel, NC, 2001. Pg 67-68
10 Ibid. Pg 68
11 Tufts, Eleanor. American Women Artists, 1830-1930. International Exhibitions Foundation for
the National Museum of Women in the Arts. 1987. Pg 26.
9


Memorial Hall symbolized the second-class status of the women artists. The
presence of a separate exhibition facility for women at the Exposition signaled an
institutionalizing of women's productions in isolation from those of men.12
Additionally, while Memorial Hall was used exclusively to exhibit works of fine
arts which had been selected by competition, the Womans Pavilion consolidated
amateur and professional artists, as well as industrial arts and handicrafts. Because
of this, some feminist women artists refused to participate. Ironically, the
building became both the most powerful and conspicuous symbol of the womens
movement for equal rights and the most visible indication of womans separate
status.13 Art historian Frances Borzello clearly captured the disparity inherent in
the separation of womens creative efforts from those of men: However seriously
women took themselves as artists, they were never seen by others as artists plain
and simple, they were seen as women artists, bearers of societys views on a
womans place, potential, nature and role.14
The Womens Building at the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893 in
Chicago was considered at the time one of the greatest exhibition of womens
artwork. The building itself was designed by women, and the exhibits presented
sculptures, paintings, drawings and prints created by women from all parts of the
country. Again, as in Philadelphia, some professional women artists preferred to
12 Chadwick. Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. Thames and Hudson, London, 1990. Pg 228
13 Ibid.. Pg 228
14 Borzello, Frances. A World of Our Own: Women as Artists since the Renaissance. Watson-
Guptill Publications. New York, 2000. Pg 7
10


compete for exhibition space along with men in the Fine Arts building rather than
placing their art in the womens building that displayed everything from household
goods to embroidery. Despite those concerns, the 1893 Worlds Columbian
Exposition was an important stepping stone for a number of women artists.
Womens creative presence was more powerfully felt in Chicago in 1893 than at
any other time in the countrys history.15
The most famous training school for art in the United States in the late
nineteenth century was the Art Students League in New York. A number of the
women artists later active in Colorado studied there prior to making the journey
west. The league was founded in the summer of 1875 by a group of dissident
students from the National Academy of Design, unhappy with the rigid and
conservative nature of the Academys curriculum. The classes were conducted by
some of the most prominent artists of the time, including Thomas Eakins, George
Inness, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox.16 The
League allowed women to take life drawing classes with nude models, though the
mens and womens classes were held separately until into the mid 1920s.
By the late 1870s American artists considered study in Paris to be the
completion of an artists training, to immerse themselves in the rigorous
instruction and the European tradition of figure studies. Paris was the center of
15 Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. Thames and Hudson, London, 1990. Pg 249
16 Heller, Nancy G. The Art Students League: 100 Years , American Artist, September 1975. Vol
39. Issue 398. Pg 59.
11


European art instruction, and thousands of American art students traveled across
the ocean after the Civil War to study there, with nearly of third of them being
women. In 1888 alone, over a thousand American artists and art students attended
Parisian academies.17
This emphasis on European training and the study of the human figure
impacted the nature of the artwork created by women. Previously the emphasis for
women artists was primarily still life and flowers. With entry to the academies and
figure drawing classes, their work evolved into more varied genres, including
figures, landscapes and portraiture. Although more women were developing
reputations as landscape artists, the field was still primarily dominated by male
artists. Data from catalogs for annual exhibitions of the National Academy of
Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Boston Art Club
indicate that womens entry of still-life and flower paintings dropped
substantially between 1880 and 1900, from around one-fourth to fewer than 10
percent of all paintings exhibited by women. At the same time, they entered figure
paintings in increasing numbers. By 1900, women exhibited figure paintings in
close to the same proportions as men.18
The other area where women enjoyed significant success was portraiture
painting. It had become popular for middle and upper-class Americans to
17 Swinth, Kirsten. Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American
Art, 1870-1930. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 2001. Pg 37
18 Ibid. Pg 73
12


commission paintings of themselves and their families, which created another
income avenue for artists. Although portrait painting had been present in this
country since the early seventeenth century, the practice prospered from the early
1800s until the end of the Civil War, allowing some women to make a living as
traveling portrait painters.
13


CHAPTER 3
EARLY COLORADO ARTISTS
The first women artists in Colorado were the Native Americans who
produced fine art in basketry, potter, quillwork, weaving and painting on leather.
Their work was generally employed in their handmade domestic articles, using
geometric and abstract designs, as well as animals, flowers and figures. The
designs were commonly symbolic and the objects frequently used for religious
rituals. These domestic artistic skills were handed down by generation through
maternal lineage. The blankets made entirely by Navajo women are today
considered masterpieces of abstract design. However, one early book on Colorado
history clearly delineates Native American art as separate from that of professional
Caucasian artists. In History of Colorado, Volume III, author Le Roy Hafen states:
Writers upon the history of art in Colorado have been fond
of mentioning the handicraft of the American Indian as the first step
in its development, citing the pictographs on canyon walls and
decoration of skins as the initial impulse. This interpretation seems
to the writer to be erroneous and unjust to the Caucasian artist and
to the Indian. In the first place the two periods represented, the
methods involved and the trend of creative thought were wholly
dissimilar, and it is an absurdity to link the arts together,
historically or in any other way. The art of the Indian is essentially
14


an industrial art, or craft, based upon religious ceremonials, and
purely decorative in character. In this latter aspect only may the
two touch. The Indian has nothing to learn from the Caucasian that
will not alter or destroy his race expression; the white may, by an
intelligent application of Indian principles in design and color
harmony, especially in the crafts, develop a new art in the West that
will acquire the finest traditional value. But this inspiration lies in
the Indian crafts, blanket weaving, pottery and basketry.
Considered from the decorative standpoint the Indian was a master
craftsman, and handled color with the instinctive genius of the
barbarian, an instinct which sophistication tends to dull. 19
The earliest art in Colorado by pioneer artists was primarily executed by
visitors and artists traveling in expeditions, recording their impressions of the new
land for the education of those in the East. The first Eastern artist on Colorado
soil appears to have been Philadelphia engraver Samuel Seymour who
accompanied the Major Stephen Long expedition, sent by Secretary of War, John
C. Calhoun, across the Western frontier in 1820. Early expeditions frequently
included an artist in order to document the terrain and landscapes. In 1863 and
1864 famous landscape artist Albert Bierstad traveled and painted in Colorado. His
painting entitled Storm in the Rocky Mountains garnered a great deal of attention
when it was exhibited in New York in 1885, selling for an unheard of price of
$20,000.
19 Hafen, Le Roy R. History of Colorado, Volume III. Linderman Co., Inc., Denver. 1927. Pg
1264
15


Mary Elisabeth Achey (1832-1886)
One of the earliest known professional women artists in Colorado was
Mary Elisabeth Achey. Achey, a self-taught artist, painted and sketched more
widely throughout the West in the period between 1860 and 1885 than did any
other female artist with the possible exception of Mary Hallock Foote.20 21 She
was bom in either Scotland or Germany in 1832, the granddaughter of a Dutch
painter. She grew up in Ohio, where she met and married Philip Achey. The
couple, along with their daughter, Ida, came west in 1857. By 1860 they had
settled in Nevadaville, Colorado, where she executed one of her first known
works, titled Nevadaville, a 13.5 x 20 oil painting of the mountain mining town.
Between 1862 and 1865 her husband, Philip, served in the Second Colorado
Cavalry Volunteers and traveled between Kansas, Colorado and Missouri. Achey
would on occasion accompany her husband, and in 1862 she produced a number of
drawings capturing the army fort scenes in Kansas and Colorado. Later that
decade, she resided in Central City where she continued to paint Colorado
landscapes. Her sketches of Clear Creek were noted in the Denver newspapers in
1868-1869. The Rocky Mountain News described one of her works as One of the
21
handsomest oil paintings ever seen in Colorado.
20 Kovinik, Phil. The Woman Artist is the American West, 1860-1960. Muckenthaler Curlural
Center, Fullerton, CA, 1976. Pg 4.
21 Rocky Mountain News, Vol. XI, 11/17/1869, p.l., c.7
16


In 1867, Mary Acheys daughter, Ida. died following a bout of diphtheria.
Mary blamed her husband for falling asleep during a night watch over the sick
child, and left her husband, settling with her two sons in Central City, where she
opened an art studio. In 1868, she held an Oil Painting Carnival in the local
bookstore where she raffled off thirty paintings for $2.50 a ticket, including one
titled Pikes Peak with Buffalo Chase. Also included in the auction were six
portraits to be painted, with the drawing winners expected to furnish a likeness of
the person they wished painted.22
Mary Elisabeth Achey remained in Colorado until the mid-1870s when she
relocated, with her two sons, to California as a portrait painter. In 1880 she settled
down on a homestead outside of Aberdeen, Washington. For the next several
years she traveled back and forth between Aberdeen and Astoria, Oregon, where
she was able to sell more of her work. In 1885 she married Emerson Woodruff.
Throughout her life, she supported herself and her sons through her artwork,
completing over 500 paintings, illustrating scenes of Civil War army camps,
Indian encampments, landscapes, and early settlements, as well as portraits. Mary
Elisabeth Achey died of a heart attack in 1886.
22 Central City Register, November 1868.
17


Esther Yates Frazier (1830-1903)
The only other documented woman artist in Colorado during the 1860s was
Esther Yates Frazier. Frazier was bom October 1, 1830 in Douglas,
Massachusetts. While several of her paintings exist at the Colorado Historical
Society, very little biographical material is available. She married Jacob Woodrow,
and they resided in Iowa during the 1850s. In 1860, she and her husband traveled
across the plains to Denver by ox team, where she remained the rest of her life.
Frazier was a self-taught artist, who also wrote articles for the Rocky Mountain
News and completed two books in her later years. She was remarried to George
A. Bridge in 1866, then later to Charles Frazier in the mid 1880s. In all, she had
nine children. Her one known residence in Denver was a cabin near the
intersection of Blake and 22nd streets.
The Colorado Historical Society has three of Esther Fraziers paintings in
their collection. One, dated 1861, is entitled Arapahoe-Cheyenne Encampment,
depicting an encampment near what is now Union Station in Denver. The other
two are untitled landscapes around the Evergreen area.
18


CHAPTER 4
DENVERS ART COMMUNITY
The two main centers for art in Colorado during the late nineteenth century
were Denver and Colorado Springs, both fast growing communities due to the
influx of fortune seekers from the east in search of gold and silver. Denver began
as settlements at the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River in 1858,
the west side encampment called Auraria and the east side called Denver City. The
two settlements were soon unified as one city. In the beginning, Denver was a
rough frontier town, where men outnumbered women by more than six to one, and
the central businesses consisted of saloons and houses of ill repute. Violent crime
was uncontrolled, and robberies often occurred in broad daylight.
By 1870 the census reports listed 4,579 citizens in Denver, just less than
half of them women. While saloons still outnumbered churches eight to one,
Denver began to draw a more educated population due to its clean, dry air which
attracted individuals suffering from tuberculosis, asthma and other lung and
19


y 7
pulmonary disorders. Many of these new Eastern transplants were established
artists and patrons of the arts, who became the driving forces behind the creation
of Denvers cultural arts organizations and institutions.
By the 1880s Denver was becoming a cultured, modem city of tall
office buildings, exclusive neighborhoods, and ornate churches and cathedrals, a
testament to the new wealth in the city. However, other parts of Denver remained
relatively dirty' and unsightly due to the soot from smelters, litter in the streets and
raw sewage which was drained into the South Platte until the sewage system was
finished in the mid-1880s. By 1890 Denvers population had shifted to a ratio of
four men to three women, and Colorados married women outnumbered unwed
females by more than ten to one.23 24 25 As the city grew (from a population of 4,759
in 1870 to almost 134,000 in 1900), so did the arts, directed and influenced by the
men and women artists who had settled there from the East. Art historian Erika
Doss maintains that as a result of the cultural support structure developed by
25
women, Denver remained a magnet for Western artists in the twentieth century.
23 Dorsett, Lyle W. The Queen City: A History of Denver. Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, CO.
1977. Pg 50
24 Leonard. Stephen J. and Noel, Thomas J. Denver: Mining Town to Metropolis. University of
Colorado Press, Niwot, CO 1990. Pg91
25 Doss, Erika. / Must Paint", Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-
1945. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1995. Pg 216
20


Denver Arts Education, Organizations and Clubs
In the latter quarter of the 1800s a number of art academies, clubs and
organizations were formed in Denver. Some of them were to have lasting effects
on the cultural future of the city, others were short-lived and hampered by internal
bickering. Artists had lived in the city since the 1860s, and by 1884 over fifty
artists were listed as Denver residents.26 The first art organization in Denver was
the Academy of Fine Arts Association of Colorado, founded in 1876 by John H.
Mills. In August of 1882 The Denver Tribune reported that the Academy of Fine
Arts had secured the use of the entire 5th floor of the Tabor Grand Opera House
Building in order to hold classes and exhibitions and to provide artist studios. It
began a tradition of Saturday afternoon receptions for artists, which lasted for
several years. However, due to lack of continuing support, the association folded
before 1885.
The Denver School of Fine Arts, operated at the University of Denver, was
founded in 1880 and began to offer courses in painting and drawing by Ida De
Steignuer. Ex-Governor John Evans was the president of the University Board of
Trustees, and his daughter, Anne Evans, was a powerful proponent of the arts.
Denver artist Elisabeth Spalding writes, The generosity of Governor and Mrs.
Evans equipped that art school for the University. They and Mrs. Bancroft were
true patrons of art, always encouraging artists by purchase and with real interest in
26 Doss. Erika. I Must Paint, Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-
1945. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1995. Pg 213
21


their work. 27 In 1892, the school expanded under the leadership of Preston
Powers, a sculptor and son of the well known Neoclassic artist Hiram Powers.
The Denver School of Fine Arts was granted exclusive use of the old University
building at 1330 Arapahoe Street, where the first organized effort to teach art was
instituted.28
In 1880, the Denver Sketch Club was founded, and within a year had
changed its name to the Colorado Art Association.
Beginning in 1882, then each year following, the Annual National Mining
Industrial Exhibition included, in addition to the traditional exhibits on agriculture,
mining, machinery, tools, textiles and household goods, an art exhibition which
was set up by a committee headed by Horace W. Tabor, senator and mining
tycoon, and artist John Harrison Mills. These annual exhibits provided an
opportunity for many of Denvers leading artists to display their work. The 1883
exhibit included Colorado artists A. Phimister Proctor, Helen Henderson Chain,
Charles Craig, J. Harrison Mills, Fanny Clark, Captain Jack Howland, and
Charles Partridge Adams who was presented the gold medal. By 1884, the third
annual art exhibit included seventy artists, most of which were Colorado residents.
27 Spalding. Elisabeth. Something ofArt in Denver as 1 Think of It. Typescript written for the
Denver Fortnightly Club. 1924. Pg 8
28 Hafen, Le Roy R. History of Colorado, Volume III. Linderman Co., Inc., Denver, 1927. Pg.
1268
22


The Denver Art Club was formed in 1886, with John D. Howland as
president, and included many of the previous members of the Academy of Fine
Arts Association. However, due to conflict within its membership, the club met an
early demise the following year.
In 1889, the Denver Paint and Clay club was formed and included local
women artists Helen Henderson Chain, Henrietta Bromwell and Emma Richardson
Cherry. The club held its first annual exhibition in December of 1889, which
included works by Charles Partridge Adams, Henrietta Bromwell, Helen
Henderson Chain, Emma Richardson Cherry, Frank Collins, Alexis Comparet,
Helen De Lange, Harriet Winslow Hayden and Edward Hill. While this club was
also short-lived, the members would go on to form and participate in a number of
other significant art organizations in the city.
The Le Bran Art Club was founded in the fall of 1890 by painter and art
teacher Harriet Hayden, specifically to support women in their endeavors to
become both amateur and professional artists. The club was modeled after the
Palette Club of Chicago, to which Hayden had belonged, and was named after
Elisabeth Vigee Le Bran, a French portrait painter who lived from 1753 to 1842.
The organization provided classes, scheduled discussions and provided
opportunities for the women artists to exhibit their work. The Le Bran Art Club
began with five members in 1890 and expanded to 25 by 1893. Early members of
the club included, in addition to Hayden, Henrietta Bromwell, Emma Richardson
23


Cherry, Elisabeth Spalding, Katherine Smalley, Ida Stair, Marion Johnson, Alice
Howes, Helen Munson, Ida Failing and honorary member, Leadville illustrator,
Mary Hallock Foote. The club held several exhibits, in spaces loaned out by the
Art League and in the post office annex. The third, and last, exhibit was held in
April of 1893, and included landscapes by Bromwell, Hayden, Cherry, Smalley
and Spalding and received creditable reviews. Though the club only existed for a
few short years, it did help to support the women artists of Denver, began to create
an art consciousness in the city, and paved the way for the founding of both the
Denver Art League and the Artists Club of Denver, which became the Denver Art
Association and eventually the Denver Art Museum.
The Le Brun Art Club seems to have inspired Denvers most powerful
business and professional men to follow suit with a new organization of their own,
the Denver Art League. The Art League was headed by William Ward Shaw as
president and Samuel Richard as director. It was active in presenting exhibitions
of work by artists of national importance, including a show of over 260 paintings
by landscape artist Thomas Moran in January' of 1893. It was the practice at the
time to fill the walls with paintings, hanging them above and below each other
with very little space in between.
The Denver Art League also opened a School of Fine Arts in September of
1892, which rivaled the University of Denvers School of Fine Arts. The new 29
29 Marlene Chambers (editor). The Denver Art Museum: The First Hundred Years. Denver Art
Museum. 1996. Pg 16
24


school was directed by Samuel Richards and had on its teaching staff local artists
Charles Partridge Adams, Emma Richardson Cherry and Harriet Hayden.
The Denver Artists Club was created in 1893 in the studio of founding
member Emma Richardson Cherry to sponsor lectures and exhibitions for local
artists. The initial members included Charles Partridge Adams, Anne Evans,
Henry Read, Henrietta Bromwell, Elizabeth Spalding and Elsie Ward. Annual dues
were $ 1 for active members and $2 for associates. Their constitution states their
mission as the advancement of the art interests of Denver, and they focused their
first few years on mounting annual juried exhibitions, which were held in
temporary spaces throughout the city. In order to become an active member of the
Denver Artists Club, candidates had to be proposed by an active member and
approved unanimously by the Executive Committee. This practice did, on some
occasions, create bad feelings amongst local artists who were blackballed. One
particular incident, reported in the local press, described the bitter feelings caused
between the newly organized arts club and noted Denver painter Alexis Comparet
when his membership, proposed without his consent, was blackballed.
Emma Richardson Cherry served as the first President of the Denver
Artists Club for one year before moving to Houston. Henry Read, an English
painter, took over the leadership of the club and continued in that position for a
number of years. Read also taught art and founded a school that is now the Vance
Kirkland Gallery, as well as serving as the head of Mayor Robert Speers Denver
25


Art Commission. The club held its first exhibition, consisting of 110 total
paintings and drawings, in April of 1894. The exhibit included a significant
number of works by local women artists, including Emma Richardson Cherry,
Katherine Smalley, Henrietta Bromwell, Elisabeth Spalding, Alice Howes, Harriet
Winslow Hayden, Elsie Ward, Blanche Dougan, Mary Cecelia Wheeler, Eva
Roades, Ida De Steigner, Mrs. R.H. Worthington, Mrs. C.E. Blake, Marian
Howard, Helen Powers, Marian J. Johnson and Lucie Lipscomb.
By January of 1897, the club began to work towards obtaining space for a
permanent art gallery. For three years they leased space in the Tabor Opera House
block, but were forced to find alternative space when it was reclaimed for a
remodeling project. In 1899 they initiated a fund raising project to purchase art for
a gallery in the newly commissioned Colorado Museum of Natural History in City
Park. However, their enthusiasm for the project waned, and when the museum
finally opened its doors in 1908, the third floor gallery had been furnished with
loans by private collectors in Denver. The Denver Artists Club finally began
building its own collection in 1909, with its first purchase of a painting entitled
Halcyon Days by Frank Dumond. They set aside $500 each year to purchase one
or more of the prize paintings from their annual exhibitions. In 1915 the club
purchased Twilight Shower by Elisabeth Spalding to add to the collection. By
1916 the club had purchased 15 paintings. Anne Evans, Elisabeth Spalding and
Marion Hendrie have been credited with keeping the Artists Club alive and
26


directing the collecting decisions through the first two decades of the twentieth
century. Anne Evans served on the Denver Library Commission and facilitated an
agreement for assigned gallery space for the club in the citys new library at Civic
Center. The Artists Club inaugurated its new library gallery with its 16th Annual
Exhibition on February 15, 1910. They continued to utilize the space for lectures
and exhibitions until 1925, when the library needed to recover the space for its
own expanding collection. In the intervening years, there were a number of
proposals to include a fine arts building in the expansion of Denvers Civic Center,
including a plan presented in 1913 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., which would
have created a twin building to the 1910 Carnegie Library across the mall. But the
proposals were ultimately rejected by the taxpayers.
In 1917, the Denver Artists Club incorporated as the Denver Arts
Association and hired Reginald Poland as its first art director. George Eggers took
over as director in 1921, and the following year the Association acquired the
Chappell House at 1300 Logan to be used as a center for the creative arts. The
house, a twenty two room stone mansion built in the 1880s by mining and real
estate tycoon Horace Bennett, was donated to the Association by Jean Chappell
Cranmer and DeLoe Chappell in memory of their father and mother. Initially, the
Association planned to use the facility for artist studios and as a gathering place
for local arts organizations, but after losing the space in the Denver Library in
1925, the house was renovated to incorporate a wing for exhibition space. That
27


same year, they purchased 46 Navajo textiles for $3100 and decided to devote a
room at the Chappell House for a permanent American Indian Art collection.
Anne Evans, who was the driving force behind the initial purchase of the textiles,
was appointed as head of the committee to build and oversee the Indian art
collection. Over 800 works had been acquired by 1930.
In 1923, the Denver Art Association had changed its name to the Denver
Art Museum. In addition to the Chappell House, the museum held exhibitions in
space which was allocated in the new City and County Building, beginning in
1932. Finally, in 1965, the Denver Art Museum moved forward with plans for a
new museum designed by Gio Ponti, of Milan, Italy, and Denver architects James
Sudler and Joal Cronenwett. The building opened in October of 1971. A dramatic
new addition, the Hamilton Wing, designed by Daniel Liebeskind opened in the
fall, 2006.
Helen Henderson Chain (1849-1892)
Helen Henderson Chain was one of Colorados most important women
artists of the period. She is one of very few women artists who are noted in most of
the traditional W'estem art history literature. Chain was bom on July 31, 1849 in
Indianapolis and moved with her family (father George Henry Porter Henderson,
mother Sarah Maria Bacon, two older brothers and two younger brothers) to San
Francisco in 1855. It was there she developed a lifelong interest in Japanese and
28


Chinese art. After her mother passed away in 1862, when she was 13, she returned
to Indianapolis where she was adopted into her aunts family. Helen was educated
at the Illinois Female College in Jacksonville, where she began her formal studies
in art. Her studies included brief periods in Europe and New York, where she
studied with George Innes. In 1870 she married James A. Chain and relocated to
Denver, continuing her studies in art with Hamilton Hamilton, a young eastern-
trained painter from New York.
Chains paintings were primarily mountain landscapes in oils and
watercolors, at a time when women landscape artists were rare; even rarer in the
rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Most of her scenes were Colorado
landscapes, but she also traveled and painted in New Mexico, Mexico and
California. She is reportedly the first woman to sketch Mount of the Holy Cross
on location, which she visited for the first time in 1877 two years after Thomas
Moran completed his famous painting of the scene. She may have also been the
first woman artist to sketch the Grand Canyon on location in 1882. Chain was an
avid mountain climber who scaled many of Colorados peaks including Pikes
Peak. Greys Peak and Longs Peak. She was the first to exhibit New Mexico
pueblo scenes at the National Academy of Design in 1882.30 Chain provided the
illustrations for John L. Dyers Snow Shoe Itinerant, which was published in 1891.
30 Kovinik, Phil and Yoshiki-Kovinik, Marian, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American
West. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1998. Pgxviii
29


Helen Henderson Chain established the citys first art school in her studio,
located in the McClintock Building, in 1877. Art instruction under Chain included
extended sketching trips in the Rocky Mountains. One of her more successful
students was Charles Partridge Adams, who won a gold medal at the 1882 Mining
& Industrial Exposition with one of his yellow sunset paintings and continued a
significant career as a successful Western artist.
Chain, along with a number of other women artists in Denver, was
instrumental in the establishment and support of art organizations in the city. In
1889 she, along with Henrietta Bromwell and Emma Richardson Cherry formed
the Paint and Clay Club. Then, after the rather quick demise of the club, she
helped establish the all-women Le Bran Art Club in 1891, which although short-
lived, helped to bring an art consciousness to the city and had much to do with the
founding of the Artists Club of Denver two years later.31
Helen and her husband James were well-known and active in the social life
of Denver, through its cultural organizations and the Central Presbyterian Church,
where Helen taught Sunday school classes. They donated both their time and
money to a number of charitable causes. In 1888 the Chains moved from their
home on Broadway to a home on 16th Street, on the present site of the Daniels and
Fisher tower. They also owned a ranch in Buena Vista which they visited
31 Kovinik, Phil and Yoshiki-Kovinik, Marian, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American
West. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1998. Pgxviii
30


frequently. James was part owner of the Chain & Hardy Book and Stationary
Store at 16th and Larimer Street. In 1891 they opened an art gallery described as
having incandescent lights with reflectors which are kinder to colors in the
y-y
paintings than gas lights.
The Chains had no children, and were able to travel extensively. The
Denver Times once claimed them to be probably the most traveled couple in
IT
Colorado. Helens family fondly nicknamed her Trot, due to her frequent
expeditions. In 1892 the Helen joined the Fortnightly Club, one of Denvers first
womens club which had been established in 1881 as a discussion and study group.
In March the Chains set off on a world tour that was to last for two years. Helens
first paper for the Fortnightly Club was an illustrated description of their
experiences in Japan. She also authored a 33 page essay on the history and
tradition of Japanese art for the Club, dated September 5, 1892 from Pekin, China.
On October 8, 1892 they set off on the steamer Bokhara from Shanghai, bound for
Hong Kong. The ship encountered a typhoon, where the vessel was dashed to
pieces on a desert island.32 33 34 More than 200 travelers were drowned, but 23
survived on the island for two days before being rescued. It was reported that
32 Petteys, Chris. Colorados First Women Artists. Empire Magazine, The Denver Post. May 6,
1979, Pg 39
33 Denver Times, October 19, 1892
34 Glory that Was Gold, 1934, pg 32
31


years afterward, Mrs. Chains wedding ring was washed up on the shore of the
China Sea.35
In one of many published obituaries, The Denver Sun described Helen
Henderson Chain as
an artistic genius, and in her death the art circles of Colorado
lose one of its leading lights. Her paintings adorn many Denver homes.
Her artistic taste made the collection and mounting of Colorado wild
flowers of so great popularity as to create a new industry. To her is due
largely the rising art spirit of the West, the organization of art clubs of
various kinds and the introduction into many homes of fine art where
chromos served before. Her inspiration came from nature and her artistic
touch from the masters of the old world.36
35 Glory that Was Gold, 1934, pg 32
36 The Denver Sun, October 20, 1892
32


Figure 4.1 Mount of the Holy Cross, Helen Henderson Chain
33


Henrietta Bromwell (1859-1946)
Henrietta Bromwell, known as Nettie, was bom in Charleston, Indiana
on July 13, 1859. Her mother, Emily Payne Bromwell, was a New England
aristocrat, and her father, Henry Pelham H. Bromwell, a Republican Congressman.
Her mother died in January of 1865, several months after the birth of her third
child, daughter Emily. Baby Emily died one month later. When Henrietta was
eleven, she moved to Denver with her paternal grandmother and her brother,
where they resided at 1117 Eighth Street, which is now the Auraria Higher
Education Center campus. Her brother died from a bout of typhoid fever in 1881.
Shortly after their relocation to Denver, her father was elected to the Colorado
Constitutional Territorial Council and in 1875 served as a delegate to the Colorado
Constitutional Convention. As a delegate, Henry Pelham Bromwell, advocated for
'Ij
full enfranchisement of women in the states new constitution.
Henrietta Bromwell has been described as a solitary woman, who never
married and appears to have had few close friends. She studied briefly at the
Denver School of Fine Arts at the University of Denver, which, at that time was
located on Fourteenth and Arapahoe Street. Her artwork was primarily pen and
ink drawings and paintings in oil and watercolor. Historian William H. Gerdts 37 38
37 Abbott, Carl, Leonard, Stephen H., McComb, David G. Colorado, A History of the Centennial
State. University of Colorado Press, Niwot, CO 1994, Pg 188
38 Time and Place: One Hundred Years of Women Artists in Colorado 1900-2000. Center for the
Visual Arts, Denver, CO, 2000. Pg 13
34


considers Bromwell Denvers leading woman landscape painter at the end of the
century.39 Although Henrietta lived well into her 80s, the majority of her work
as an artist occurred before 1904, when she was in her mid-40s. However, since
she did not sign or date many of her paintings, it is difficult to establish a
chronology of her work. The majority of her artwork is landscapes in which she
captures the stark, lonely quality of the American West without the predilection to
romanticize nature which was common among artists from the East or Europe.40
These landscapes depicted wooded trails, farm houses and mountain scenes.
Another favorite subject was the urban landscape of the evolving city of Denver,
especially in a district known as the Bottoms, an industrial area along the banks
of the South Platte River in central Denver. These paintings include scenes of mills
along the river and factories. One painting, of a church in moonlight, though not
specified, may be St. Elizabeths, which would have been visible from her home in
Auraria.
39 Gerdts, William H. Art Across American: Two Centuries of Regional Paintings, Volume Three:
the Far Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, Southwest, Pacific. Abbeville Press Publishers, New
York., 1990. Pg 117
40 Time and Place: One Hundred Years of Women Artists in Colorado 1900-2000. Center for the
Visual Arts, Denver, CO, 2000 Pg 14
35


Bromwell was an active exhibitor in the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1893,
she, along with several other prominent female artists (Emma Richardson Cherry,
Anne Evans, and Elisabeth Spalding) and four male artists, founded the Artists
Club of Denver, which later became the Denver Art Museum. Henrietta served as
the clubs Secretary during the first four years. The club was primarily created in
order to provide exhibition opportunities for local artists. Their exhibits were held
annually and drew large crowds as well as critical attention. In 1897 Henrietta
exhibited works in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. And in 1898 she and
36


Charles Partridge Adams were selected to represent Colorado in the Trans-
Mississippi Exhibition, a significant honor in her professional career.
Henrietta also taught art in her studio, located in the Majestic Building at
16th and Broadway. She offered instruction in drawing, painting and outdoor
sketching.
In January of 1903 her father, Henry Pelham Bromwell, died at his home at
646 Williams Street in a duplex that she inherited. Henrietta is last mentioned as
an exhibitor in the 1903 Artists Club Annual Exhibition. After this date, there are
no further mentions of her involvement in artistic endeavors. Instead, she
concentrated her efforts on completing several books that her father began but
which he never published. In June of 1903 she formed the Henry Bromwell
Masonic Publishing Company in order to publish Restorations of Masonic
Geometry and Symbolry, the book her father was working on when he died. In the
years between 1905 and 1907, Henrietta traveled throughout Colorado by rail
selling subscriptions to her fathers book. She chronicled her travels in a diary and
sketchbooks which she later donated to the Denver Public Library Western History
Section. Also, toward the end of her life, she donated 96 paintings and drawings,
family albums and scrapbooks to the Colorado Historical Society. In 1933 she
published The Colorado Portrait and Biographical Index, a five volume
genealogy index.
37


Nettie Bromwell spent the last decade of her life in social isolation and
near poverty. She continued to live in the duplex inherited from her father, until
her neighbors went to court in 1941, claiming she was unable to take care of
herself or her property. A judge declared her mentally incompetent and she was
placed in Mount Airy, a psychiatric hospital, where she died in 1946 after a long
illness. Bromwell Elementary School in Denver is named after her father.
Elisabeth Spalding (1868-1954)
Elisabeth Spalding was bom in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1868, the daughter of
John Franklin Spalding and Lavinia Spencer Spalding. She moved with her family
to Denver in 1874 when her father was named Missionary Bishop in the Episcopal
Church, and she became a life long resident of the city. Active as a practicing
artist, she was also instrumental in creating and supporting arts organizations in
Denver. Elisabeth was one of the founding members of the all-woman Le Brun
Art Club, established in 1890, and later was an influential force behind the Artists
Club of Denver, created in 1893. There can be little doubt that the personal
contacts and aesthetic sensibilities formed by (Marion) Hendrie, Spalding and
Anne Evans during the late 1890s played a large part in shaping the character of
38


the Artists Club exhibitions and collecting decisions for the next two decades.41
Spalding was a prolific painter and an active exhibitor, with numerous pieces
included in each of the clubs annual exhibitions. She was also a member of
Denvers Fortnightly Club, along with fellow artist Helen Henderson Chain. One
of the clubs projects was a drive to discourage billboard advertising in the state.
Elisabeth created two landscapes for a brochure, one portraying a peaceful
landscape along a winding road, the second was the identical landscape cluttered
with billboard advertisements. The brochure claims that Billboards are a hazard
to safety, Some states have laws against them has yours?, Let us keep the
beauty of our scenery, and Abolish all highway advertising.
In an essay written for the Fortnightly Club, Spalding wrote All through
these years of study and exhibition, the question constantly recurs what is art and
have we got it in Denver? We often felt that good artists were few and far
between.42
41 Chambers, Marlene (editor). The Denver Art Museum: The First Hundred Years. Denver Art
Museum. Denver, CO, 2000. Pg. 66
42 Spalding. Elisabeth. Something of Art in Denver as I Think of it, typescript for the Denver
Fortnightly Club, 1924. Pg9.
39


Figure 4.3 Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods, Elisabeth Spalding
Elisabeth Spalding first traveled to New York in 1890 to study drawing and
painting at the Cooper Union School of Arts & Design. She later returned to New
York in order to continue her studies at the Art Students League. Her education in
art also included brief trips to England and France. While in New York, Spalding
studied with Leonard Ochtman, Birge Harrison, John Twachtmann, Rhoda Holmes
Nicholls and J. Alden Weir. Her studies with these famous Impressionist painters
greatly influenced the style of her work. Spalding worked primarily in
watercolors, depicting impressionistic studies of landscapes and flowers mostly in
40


Colorado. In April of 1925, The Echo published an article highlighting her
Colorado landscapes, and stated that,
The observer of her work feels that she and the mountains
are intimate. Her brush strokes are sweeping and deft; in them is
sureness and strength. The mountains are distinctly her metier and
she paints them with equal charm in watercolors or oils.43
Throughout her life, Elisabeth Spalding continued to paint, exhibit and
receive awards and recognition for her work. In 1920 she won the Kremer Prize at
the Chicago Art Institute Watercolor Exhibition, and in 1931 was awarded first
prize for Flower Watercolor at the Denver Art Museum. In 1932 she had solo
watercolor exhibitions in both Stockholm and Paris, and in 1938 she held a one
man retrospective show at the Chappell House in Denver that included 60
watercolors and oils.
Spalding never married and lived with her parents at 853 Washington
Street. Bishop Spalding died in March of 1902 and her mother, Lavinia, passed
away in December, 1929. Elisabeth continued to live her Washington Street home
until her death in May, 1954.
43 Vivid Paintings of Colorado Mountains: An Account of Elizabeth Spaldings Work, The Echo.
April 1925, Vol 3, No. 3. Pg 5
41


Emma Richardson Cherry (1869-1954)
Emma Richardson was bom in Aurora, Illinois on February 28, 1859. Her
father, Perkins Richardson, was an architect. After graduating from high school in
Aurora she attended the Art Institute in Chicago, then in 1882 moved to New York
to study at the Art Students League, where she studied with William Merritt
Chase, George de Forest Brush, Henry Bainbridge McCarter, Rhoda Holmes
Nicholls, and Kenyon Cox. Emma continued her studies in Europe, at the
Academies Julian, Delechluse and Merson in Paris and took private lessons from
Zanetti-Zilla in Italy. She worked in oils, watercolors and pastels and painted
western landscapes, wildflowers, portraits and figures.
When she returned to the United States, she taught at the University of
Nebraska in Lincoln, as well as a summer session at the Metropolitan Museum in
New York. She married Nebraska oil broker Dillon Brooke Cherry in 1887 and
the couple relocated to Denver, Colorado the following year where they resided at
14th and Broadway. In 1893, Cherry helped establish the Artists Club of Denver,
serving as its first President, and participated in the organization and their
exhibitions for the next several years. Fellow artist Elisabeth Spalding once noted,
I find myself feeling that true are appreciation in came to Denver with Emma
42


Richardson Cherry. There had been a smallness of outlook among the early group.
She was altruistic and public spirited. 44
In 1899 the Cherrys moved to Houston, Texas, where they spent the
remainder of their lives. Though she resided in Denver for only 6 years, and is
generally considered a Texas artist, Cherry was instrumental in establishing one of
the most important arts organization in Colorado.
In Houston, Cherry helped form the Houston Public Art League, which
later became the Museum of Fine Arts. She directed the Elisabeth Ney Museum in
Austin and helped organize the San Antonio Art League. Cherry continued to
work as an artist and exhibited extensively, including the Paris Salon, the Art
Institute of Chicago, the Worlds Colulmbian Exposition in Chicago, the Western
Art Association in Omaha, Fort Worth Art Museum, Southern States Art League,
the Houston Art League, the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibition and the
Texas State Fair. Emma Richardson Cherry died in Houston on October 29, 1954,
at the age of 94.
44 Spalding, Elisabeth. Something of Art in Denver as I Think of it, typescript for the Denver
Fortnightly Club, 1924. Pg 11.
43


Anne Evans (1871 1941)
Anne Evans, while not well known as a successful artist in her right, was a
driving force in the development of the cultural and art organizations in Denver.
She was bom in 1871 in London, to parents Margaret Gray Evans and John Evans,
while the family was traveling through Europe. Shortly after her birth, her family
came to Colorado, where her father had been appointed the second territorial
Governor by President Abraham Lincoln. John Evans also founded the University
of Denver. Anne aspired to be an artist, and in her early teens was sent to Europe
to attend school in Paris and Berlin. In 1898 she traveled east to attend the Art
Students League in New York where she studied painting and drawing. After
returning to Denver, she continued to paint, and completed a number of portraits.
On the strength of a portrait she had made of her father, she was accepted as one of
the first Associate members of the Artist Club of Denver in 1893. Although she
never seriously pursued her own career as an artist, she remained actively involved
in the organization throughout her lifetime. In addition to her participation on the
board of the Denver Artists Club, Anne Evans also sat on the Library
Commission, the Denver Art Commission, and the Denver Planning Commission.
She was a driving force in the creation on the new city library in Civic Center, in
particular the librarys Western History Department, and is credited with working
out the agreement allotting gallery space for the club in the new Denver Public
Library, which opened in February of 1916 at West Colfax and Bannock Streets.
44


By 1925, the Denver Artists Club, which had since changed its name to
the Denver Art Association and finally, the Denver Art Museum, was housed in
the Chappell House on Logan Street and had built an addition to use as an
exhibition space. Anne Evans, convinced that native Indian folk art was an
important addition to the museums collection, supervised the purchase of 46
Navajo saddle blankets as the foundation of the permanent American Indian Art
collection. This purchase, costing $3100, initially brought criticism from other
trustees who did not believe the native textiles were appropriate for a fine arts
museum. The next year Evans was appointed as the head of the committee to
build the Indian art collection, which grew to over 800 objects in the next four
years, including blankets, pottery, basketry and jewelry.
Late in 1929, Anne took over as Interim Director of the Denver Art
Museum for a brief period while the search for a permanent director was
conducted. She later resigned from the board of the museum after a dispute with
the city administration over a statue for the civic center. Mayor Benjamin
Stapleton wanted to erect a statue in honor of Mayor Robert Speer, which Evans
and other members of the art commission opposed. After two members of the
commission who were critical of the proposal were discharged by the Mayor and
replaced with two new members who sided with the administration on the issue,
Evans resigned in protest.
45


Evans then focused her energies on the Central City Opera House and the
development of a Central City Opera Festival. She was the President of the
Central City Opera House Association until her death.
Anne Evans devoted her life to the arts, philanthropy and community
projects to develop a thriving cultural life in the city of Denver. The Rocky
Mountain News referred to her as an empire builder in the arts.45 She never
married and lived the majority of her life in the family home at 1310 Bannock
Street. The house, now the Byers-Evans House Museum, commemorates, in part,
Annes effort to promote the arts in Colorado. Evans died following a heart attack
on January 6, 1941. Upon her death, she bequeathed her own private collection of
Indian baskets, blankets and pottery to the Denver Art Museum.
45 Rocky Mountain News. 6/21/1964
46


CHAPTER 5
THE COLORADO SPRINGS ART COLONY
The town site for Colorado Springs was laid out in the summer of 1871, on
the route of the General William Jackson Palmers new Denver & Rio Grande
Railroad. The first train from Denver arrived via the new rails in October of that
year. The settlement housed a population of about 300, many of them living in
portable houses shipped out from Chicago. In the 1870s Colorado Springs became
known as Little London because so many Englishmen had settled there. Eight
years later, in 1879, the town had grown to around 5000. Colorado Springs
incorporated on September 2, 1882. Artists were attracted to the area due to the
magnificent landscapes that included Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods, and
Manitou Springs. Many others moved to the area to take advantage of the healing
properties of the local mineral springs and clean, thin air. Sanitariums proliferated
to handle the large number of tuberculosis patients that flooded the region, in
hopes that the fresh air, sunshine and a dry climate would cure their consumption.
The first art colony in Colorado was formed in Colorado Springs in the
early 1870s. Early artists in the area included Eliza Greatorex, Walter Paris,
47


Thomas and Anne Parrish, Rose Kingsley and Alice Stewart Hill. Rose Kingsley,
generally considered an amateur artist, arrived in Colorado Springs in 1871. The
first professional artist to reside in Colorado Springs was Walter Paris, an English
watercolorist, who arrived in 1872.
Le Roy Hafen described some of the challenges encountered by early
Colorado artists, in History of Colorado, Volume HI:
Pioneer artists of the golden 80s, both in Denver and
Colorado Springs, where art development has centered, found
peculiar conditions to combat. The mining magnates who
contributed in no small degree to the success of the theatre, were
free spenders, but their ideas of art were peculiar. The first
attempts toward artistic expression in the mining camps ran to
golden cherubs, gilded women pouring gilded grapes from gilded
cornucopias, golden lions and deer, sportively perched upon the
cornices of public buildings and hotels.46
The Colorado Springs art establishment was formed separately from that
of Denver, and was structured much more informally. In 1888, the first major art
exhibition was held in Colorado Springs to benefit the Bellevue Sanitarium. Later,
in February of 1900, Colorado College held its first art exhibition, representing the
works of local artists. The Colorado Springs Academy of Art was established in
1912 by Charlotte and Susan Learning, who were alumnae of the Art Institute of
Chicago. They organized exhibits and formed the Colorado Springs Art Club,
which later united with the Colorado Springs Art Society.
46 Hafen. LeRoy R. History of Colorado, Volume III. Linderman Co., Inc., Denver. 1927. Pg 1267
48


This combined organization established a school, the Broadmoor Art
Academy which was founded in October of 1919, in the former residence of Mr. &
Mrs. Spencer Penrose (on the site which is now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts
Center). Spencer and Julie Penrose, famous for building the Broadmoor Hotel in
1918, donated the family residence at 30 West Dale, as well as $1,000 per year for
the first five years to assist with the maintenance and upkeep. The founding
trustees of the academy included D.V. Donaldson, Francis Drexel Smith, Julie
Penrose, Anne Gregory Ritter and Charles Tutt. The inaugural exhibition was held
that first winter, in December of 1919. John Fabian Carlson, well known Eastern
landscape painter, was hired in 1920 as Director of the academy and landscape
instructor. The location and climate were ideal for outdoor landscape painting.
Carlson often took his students to sketch and paint on location in nearby Garden of
the Gods, Pikes Peak and Crystal Park. Carlson was soon joined by Robert Reid, a
well known portraitist and muralist from New York and Swedish bom painter
Birger Sandzen. In addition to the traditional instruction in painting and drawing,
the Academy was under government contract from 1921-1923 to train ex-
servicemen how to make a living at graphic design and commercial art. The
Broadmoor Art Academy would become one of the most important summer
teaching institutions in the West becoming even more significant after 1926 when
49


it became associated with Colorado College.47
Painter Ernest Lawson was hired as a landscape painter in 1927. Lawson
was already famous as a member of Robert Henri's The Eight, a group of social
realists with a specific American style of painting that broke with the tradition of
the National Academy. Three years later, Boardman Robinson, from the Art
Students League in New York relocated to Colorado Springs to take over the
Director position, which he held for 15 years. Boardman was nationally
recognized as an illustrator and a muralist. He and Thomas Hart Benton are
generally recognized as the founders of the American Mural movement of the
1930s.48
In 1936, George Biddle became the Director of the Colorado Springs Fine
Arts Center. Biddle was best known for conceiving the idea for the Public Works
of Art Project, the first of the federally funded art programs during the depression
designed to put unemployed citizens back to work on useful projects and to
provide decorations for public buildings.
The art education program at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
continued into the early 1950s, with steadily declining enrollments. The Center
was unable to compete with the growing number of universities offering
47 Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Paintings, Volume Three,
The Far Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, Southwest, Pacific. Abbeville Press Publishers, New
York, 1990. Pg. 126
48 Cuba, Stanley. John F. Carlson and the Artists of the Broadmoor Academy. Dave Cook Fine Art,
Denver, CO. 1999. Pg 22
50


professionally oriented art degrees. Additionally, their emphasis on realist art did
not attract the growing number of students interested in studying abstract
expressionism.
Rose Kingsley (1844-1925)
Rose Kingsley was bom and raised in Chester, England, the daughter of the
Reverend Charles Kingsley, who later became the Canon of Westminster. The
Reverend Kingsley was the author of several well-selling novels, including
Westward Ho, Hereward the Wake, and Hypatia. On September 22, 1871, Rose
boarded a ship from Liverpool with her brother Maurice for a visit to America.
She landed in New York, rode trains across the mid-west to Denver, and arrived in
Colorado Springs on November 1, 1891 via the newly opened Denver and Rio
Grande line. During her winter there, she produced a number of pen and ink
sketches, which would later be converted to woodblock engravings to illustrate her
travel book South by West or Winter in the Rocky Mountains and Spring in
Mexico, which was published in 1874 by W. Isbister & Co. Her sketches
illustrate the landscapes, buildings, people and animals she encountered during her
travels. The drawings range from a fairly simplistic renderings of her first shanty,
to intricate, highly detailed mountain landscapes.
In her travel book, she describes the new frontier settlement:
51


You may imagine Colorado Springs, as I did to be a
sequestered valley, with bubbling fountains, green grass, and shady
trees: but not a bit of it. Picture to yourself a level elevated plateau
of greenish-brown, without a single tree or plant larger than a
Spanish bayonet (Yucca) two feet high, sloping down about a
quarter of a mile to the railroad track and Monument Creek, and
you have a pretty good idea of the town-site as it appears in
November 1871.
The streets and blocks are only marked out by a furrow
turned with the plough, and indicated faintly by a wooden house,
finished, or in process of building, here and there, scattered over
half a mile of prairie. About twelve houses and shanties are
inhabited, most of them being unfinished or run up for temporary
occupation.49
49 Kingsley, Rose. South by West: or Winter in the Rocky Mountains and Spring in Mexico. W.
Isbister & Co., London, 1874. Pg 47-48
52


The Gate of the Garden of the Gods
Figure 5.1 Rose Kingsley, from South by West or Winter in the Rocky Mountains
and Spring in Mexico
Upon her arrival in Colorado Springs, Rose Kingsley lived in a 16 by 12
foot shanty, which had been erected in three days. However, after several weeks
in the primitive abode, the Kingsleys relocated to rooms above a store, which also
housed the stage office, near the comer of Cascade and Pikes Peak. The
following year, 1872, Rose traveled to Mexico City by rail with General and Mrs.
53


William Palmer. She documented her trip by keeping a travel journal and
sketching the various sites along the way. They returned to Colorado Springs in
1874, where Rose continued to contribute to the developing cultural and
educational organizations in the city. Her brother, Maurice, was a trusted
representative of General Palmer. Early on in her residence, Rose and several other
settlers set out to create a reading room in order to give the young men of the
growing town a place to gather, as an alternative to drinking and gambling in
nearby Colorado City. This organization was named the Fountain Society of
Natural Sciences. Kingsley also played the organ in Footes Hall for the first
churches services offered in the settlement and organized a concert to raise funds
for the reading room.
Rose Kingsley often took excursions in the foothills with companions
William and Mary Palmer and novelist Helen Hunt. In her book, she describes
hiking expeditions through deep snow to explore the nearby canyons and
mountains. She is reputed to be the first woman to ascend the mountain which
was later named after her, Mount Rosa. Mount Rosa is the cone-shaped mountain
just south of Pikes Peak, and is thought to be the actual mountain mistakenly
climbed by Zebulon Pike in 1806, rather than Pikes Peak.
54


Eliza Greatorex (1819-1897)
Although not truly a resident of Colorado, Eliza Greatorex was the first
woman artist of prominence to visit and work in the area. She was bom in 1819
and grew up in Ireland. In 1840 she settled in New York where she later met and
married prominent musician and teacher, Henry W. Greatorex. She studied
landscape painting in Paris, Munich and New York City. In 1858 she began
painting professionally to support her two daughters following the death of her
husband. Greatorex was the first woman to be elected as a member of the National
Academy in 1868. In 1873 she traveled to the Rocky Mountains with her
daughters Kathleen and Eleanor, also artists, by the Great Western Train, where
they visited Manitou Springs, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. During this
trip she made a number of pen and ink landscape drawings of the region which
illustrated her travel book, Summer Etchings in Colorado, which was published
later that same year by G.P. Putnams Sons. A number of the drawings were also
published in national periodicals, enhancing her reputation as a western artist.
Her book describes the spectacular scenery, and the people she encountered and
their stories of life in Colorado. She notes the distinctive role of women in the
west and writes,
I speak especially of the women of Colorado, present and
future. There is, here, perhaps, less worship of womens beauty and
accomplishments, but man places her nearer to himself she shares
55


and guides his life and thought, is the light, the comfort, the
home.50
After her trip to the west, she returned to New York and later, in 1885,
settled in Paris. Little is documented of her work or career beyond the publication
of her book.
Anne Lodge Parrish (1850-1900)
After the death of his first wife, Colorado Springs artist and businessman
Thomas Parrish returned to Philadelphia to study at the Academy of Fine Arts.
There he met and married Anne Willcox, and brought her back to Colorado
Springs to settle. At that time, Anne Parrish was already an established portraitist,
and she later studied with Thomas Eakins. Upon their return they opened a studio
at 209 North Weber Street and began offering art instruction. In 1888, along with
artist Frank T. Lent, the Parrishes established the first art school in Colorado
Springs. Anne continued to work as a professional artist, earning commissions for
portrait paintings. The Colorado Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs has in its
collection portraits of Anne and Katherine Adams, daughters of Massachusetts
physician Dr. Benjamin Adams, and one of Helen Hunt Jackson, rendered from a
photo taken in 1870. Art historian William H. Gerdts claims that Anne Parrish
50 Greatorex, Eliza. Summer Etchings in Colorado. G.P. Putnams Sons, New York. 1873. Pg 92
56


became Colorados outstanding figure and portrait painter of the late nineteenth
century.51
Figure 5.2 Helen Hunt Jackson, Anne Parrish
51 Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Paintings, Volume Three:
the Far Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, Southwest, Pacific. Abbeville Press Publishers, New
York, 1990. Pg 126
57


Her daughter, bom in 1888 and also named Anne, went on to become a
relatively well-known writer. She received three Newberry Medal Awards for her
childrens books (in 1925, 1931 and 1951).
Alice Stewart Hill (1851-1896)
Alice Stewart was bom in Amboy, New York in 1851, one of three
daughters of Judge George Stewart. As a child, she moved with her family to
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where she initially began the study of drawing. At the
age of 22, she traveled to New York City to study art at both the Cooper Union
Institute and at the National Academy of Design. In 1874, following her studies in
New York, she rejoined her family, now relocated in Colorado Springs. Stewart
was apparently fascinated by the large variety of wildflowers in Colorado and
went to Chicago specifically to study the art of flower painting. Once back in
Colorado Springs, she taught classes in flower painting and spent numerous hours
hiking among the nearby hills and canyons in search of interesting and
undocumented flora. The Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum has in its collection
a leather-bound book, entitled Wild Flowers of Colorado containing 17 small
untitled watercolors done by Alice Stewart. The small paintings are highly
detailed, intricate and delicate, with fine lines and vivid shades of pinks, yellows,
purples, and blues.
58


In 1886, she illustrated a book written by her friend Helen Hunt Jackson.
Jacksons A Procession of Flowers in Colorado was first published by Robert
Brothers of Boston in a deluxe, limited edition of one hundred copies, each
individually illustrated in watercolor by Stewart. The flow'er illustrations in each
copy were unique and followed no set pattern of design or color. The book was
later published for mass consumption, without illustrations. Alice Stewart also
illustrated Colorado Favorites and A Colorado Wreath by Virginia Donaghe.
In a series of articles entitled Brush and Pencil in Early Colorado Springs
published in the Colorado Springs Gazette and Telegraph in 1924, Gilbert
McClurg writes of her,
Alice Stewart Hill will be remembered, among local artists, as
spending gentle, sunny days in searching out the unknown
blossoms, grouping them with characteristic grace of arrangement,
painting each detail with loving though, making them distinctly her
own and at the same time enriching art in making them known to
all.52
Alice Stewart married local financier Francis B. Hill in 1887 or 1888. She
spent her last years at Jackson Sanitarium, a health resort in Danville, New York,
until her death at the age of 45 in 1896. Her remains were returned to Colorado to
be buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.
52
McClurg, Gilbert. Brush and Pencil in Early Colorado Springs", Colorado Springs Gazette and
Telegraph. 1924. Pg 28
59


Katherine Smalley (1852-1942)
Katherine Smalley was bom in 1852 and grew up in Waverly, Iowa. At the
age of 34 she went to Chicago to study with Charles Corwin at the Chicago Art
Institute. In 1885 she won the Chicago Art Institute medal for drawing and
painting life studies. Smalley headed West to Denver in 1888, where she painted
oil and pastel portraits. The next year she moved to Colorado Springs where she
found little demand for portraits and began painting landscapes and working in
watercolors. Smalley was one of the only female artists in Colorado Springs who
exhibited work in Denver. Her paintings were included in exhibits sponsored by
both the Le Bran Club and the Artists Club of Denver. Little else is known of her
life and artistic career after the mid-1890s.
Anne Van Briggle Ritter (1868-1929)
Anne Van Briggle Ritter was bom in 1868 in Plattsburgh, New York. She
studied landscape painting in New York with Charles Melville Dewey, attended
the Victoria Lyceum in Berlin and spent three years (from around 1890-1893) at
the Colorosse Academy in Paris. While in Paris, two of her paintings were selected
for exhibition at the Paris Solon. It was in France that Anne met artist Artus Van
Briggle. They became engaged several years later in 1895. Artus moved to
Colorado Springs in 1899, on the advice of his doctor, in hopes of improving his
tuberculosis. The following year, Anne joined him in Colorado where she became
60


supervisor of art in a local high school. Although Artuss health continued to
deteriorate, they married in 1902 in the garden of Helen Hunts house on
Cheyenne Mountain. Artus experimented and designed fine vases and tiles. In
1902 he established the Van Briggle Pottery company, one of the greatest art
potteries of America.53. Shortly after their marriage Artus checked into a
sanitarium in Denver, and passed away in 1904. After his death, Anne continued
as art director for the pottery company. In 1908, Anne married Swiss mining
engineer, Etienne Ritter. The pottery company languished, and eventually closed
in 1910, but was later reopened, with revised policies that would cheapen the
product in order to make it commercially successful. Despite the change in
product, the company continued to struggle, and on July 29, 1913, the assets of the
Van Briggle Pottery Company were auctioned on the steps of the El Paso County
Courthouse. After the demise of the company, Anne returned to painting
landscapes and still life. She had a studio at the Broadmoor Art Academy, and
exhibited her paintings at the Denver Public Library. Exhibit records indicate that
Anne produced portraits, however most of her work available in public collections
are landscapes, and one nude figure. In 1923, she and her husband relocated to
Denver, where she taught classes in landscape and life drawing at the Chappell
House and at the University of Denver Art School. She died in Denver in 1929.
53 Time and Place: One Hundred Years of Artists in Colorado 1900-2000, Center for the Visual
Arts Exhibit Catalog, Denver, CO, 2000. Pg. 17
61


CHAPTER 6
LEADVILLE
Around 1874, a small mining settlement named Slabtown was begun after
a discovery of lead carbonates in the area. It was officially renamed Leadville on
July 16, 1877. By then, the settlement had grown to include a post office, hotel,
and several mercantiles. Horace Austin Warner Tabor was one of the first
businessmen, and in February of 1878 was elected the towns first mayor. By the
spring of 1879 new arrivals were entering Leadville at a rate of more than 100 per
day. The population by that time had reached over 5,000, with an equal number
scattered at various mine sites outside of Leadville. White Americans made up
over two thirds of the population, with the largest number of immigrants being
Irish. The one ethnic group not represented were Orientals, as the town had
banned them. At that time, most of the women residing in Leadville were
waitresses, dance hall girls or prostitutes.
In addition to the various shops springing up in the new settlement, there
were over 100 saloons listed in the 1880 city directory.54 The town was a jerry-
rigged hovel of habitation. There was no uniformity. Tents butted against fine,
54 Blair, Edward. Leadville: Colorado's Magic City .Fred Pruett Books, Boulder, CO, 1980. Pg 76
62


newly constructed brick buildings...Buildings were constructed according to the
size of purse, size of lot, and type and amount of materials available. 55 The town
was hectic and noisy twenty-four hours a day.
Engineer Arthur D. Foote was one of the first professional miners to arrive
in Leadville. His wife, author and illustrator, Mary Hallock Foote, joined him in
the spring of 1879, a few months after his own arrival.
Mary Hallock Foote (1847-1938)
Mary Hallock Foote was named by illustrator William Allen Rogers one
of the most accomplished illustrators in America.56 57 Additionally she has been
hailed as the only woman who was an important early Western illustrator,
c--I
engraver, painter, author. While many of the women artists discussed here are
relatively unknown, with little biographical information available, Mary Hallock
Footes life is well documented through her own writings, her autobiography
which was published after her death, and at least two other biographies published
in the last 25 years. Her life was also the basis for Wallace Stegners Pulitzer
Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose.
55 Blair, Edward. Leadville: Colorados Magic City.Fred Pruett Books, Boulder, CO, 1980. Pg 57
56 Taft, Robert. Artists and Illustrators of the Old West. 1850-1900. Charles Scribners Sons, New
York, London, 1953. Pg 172
57 Samuels, Peggy and Harold. The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the
American West. Dougleday & Co., Garden City, NY, 1976. Pg 173
63


Mary Hallock was bom in 1847 on a farm outside the Hudson River town
of Milton, New York. Although the Hallocks were Quakers, they did not
participate in the villages social or churchgoing life. An earlier dispute involving
her Uncle Nicholas rendered them isolated from the Milton and New York Quaker
society. She was raised a well-read young woman with an active mind and an
interest in the current events of the world around her.
It was our fathers custom in the evening to read aloud to the
family assembled the Congressional debates and the editorials in
the New York Tribune. A child of eight or nine would have been
lacking in ordinary intelligence if she had not gathered some notion
of what they were talking about, the great speakers in Congress
who were battling for or against the extension of slavery.58
Mary was influenced early on by her Aunt Sarah, an outspoken anti-slavery
and womens rights activist. Between 1856 and the Civil War, on Aunt Sarahs
invitation the Hallocks hosted a number of lecturers from the New York Anti-
Slavery Society, including Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. She was
educated in Poughkeepsie at the Female Collegiate Institute, where she took her
first art lessons with Margaret Gordon in the early 1860s.
In 1864, at the age of seventeen, Mary Hallock was recognized by her
teachers and family as a budding artistic genius and took the unusual step for a
lady of her era of enrolling in the School of Design for Women (also known as the
Cooper Institute) in New York City. At that time, the Cooper Institute was one of
58 Paul, Rodman W., editor. A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: Reminiscences of Mary
Hallock Foote. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA 1972. Pp52-53
64


the very few places a woman could get an art education. Despite the prevailing
attitudes against women in the profession, she was determined to be an artist.59
During the next three years Mary trained for a career as a black-and-white
illustrator, under the instruction of William J. Linton. Linton came from the
English art tradition and specialized in wood block engraving. The study of
woodcut illustration attracted few amateurs because of its difficulty. Foote was
taught to draw directly on the wood block, rather than using the easier method of
drawing on paper and tracing the reverse image on the wood. This ensured a more
accurate representation. To make a wood block engraving, the block was prepared
with a powdered wash. The sketch was then penciled on the block, making dark
lines against the white background. The block was then given to an engraver who
would excise the white from the black lines. The image would appear in relief,
and could then be inked and printed on paper.
Foote also studied privately with William Rimmer, Samuel F. Johnson,
John H.F. Whitney and Charles H. Burt. It was at the art school that she met
Helena de Kay, who would become her lifelong friend and correspondent.
Her professional debut was the publication of four drawings in A.D.
Richardsons best seller Beyond the Mississippi and her career as an illustrator
continued with contracts to illustrate various giftbook editions, of Longfellows
The Skeleton in Armor, and The Hanging of the Crane (the other 14 illustrations
59 Reed, Walt and Reed. Roger. The Illustrator in America. 1880-1980, A Century of Illustration.
New York, Madison Square Press, 1984. Pg 35
65


for this book were done by landscape artist Thomas Moran), as well as Whittiers
Mabel Martin, and Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter. At this time most women
illustrators if employed at all, were mostly relegated to such fancies as trade cards
and pictures of pretty babies.60 Footes drawings for these books featured closely
cropped character studies, with the figure placed in the center, as the predominant
subject. During this time she was also commissioned to illustrate articles and
stories by prominent writers for Scribners magazine. A survey of (Scribners)
issues between 1870 and 1874 reveals that Marys work soon appeared with the
same frequency as that of such acknowledged artists as Edwin Austin Abbey and
Joseph Pennell.61
In 1874 her friend, Helena, married Richard Gilder, editor of Scribners
Monthly, which later became Century Magazine. On February 9, 1876, Mary
Hallock married Arthur De Wint Foote, a young mining engineer. From this point
on, her life consisted of following her husband throughout the west in his search
for opportunities and success.
Their first journey took them to New Almaden California, where Arthur
was hired to survey a mine. They remained there for one year, during which she
gave birth to her first child, Arthur Burling Foote in 1877. While most of the
servants in the settlement were Chinese men, Mary insisted on hiring a woman to
60 Bickford-Swarthout. Doris. Mary Hallock Foote: Pioneer Woman Illustrator. Berryhill Press,
Deansboro, NY, 1996. Pg 1
61 Johnson, Lee Ann. Mary Hallock Foote. Twayne Publishers, a Division of G.K. Hall & Co.,
Boston. 1980. Pg 21
66


assist her, in part due to her need for a female model to complete the illustrations
for The Scarlet Letter. During this period, Mary continued to write and send
illustrations to her friend, Helena. The drawings accompanying her letters back
east illustrated everyday life in the mining camp the houses, the people, and the
land. Helena and her husband, Richard, convinced Mary to write articles to
accompany her engravings. The first of these were published in Scribner's
Monthly as a serial entitled A California Mining Camp, published in February of
1878.
From Almaden, the Footes moved to Santa Cruz, where Arthur worked
unsuccessfully on developing a mixture for hydraulic cement. In 1878, Arthur
headed to Leadville in response to the silver rush. During that winter
men were pouring in faster than the stages could bring
them...The road over Mosquito Pass...began to look like the route
of a demoralized army; there were well-ploughed tracks upon tracks
and sloughs of mud, dead horses and cattle by hundreds scattered
along wherever they dropped, and human wreckage in
proportion.62
In Leadville, the Footes lived in a one room cabin built of logs at 216 West
Eighth Street, where Mary spent her days working on her engraving blocks and
writings. While Arthur brought home visiting engineers and other company
workers to entertain, Mary did not venture out in the town often. Arthur was
apparently protecting her from the coarse elements of mining camp life. She does,
62 Paul. Rodman W., editor. A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: Reminiscences of Mary
Hallock Foote. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA 1972. Pg 165
67


however, describe a few evenings dining out at the Clarendon Hotel. One evening
they were joined by Helen Hunt Jackson, a celebrated author and proponent of
justice for Indians, who, within the next two years would publish her most famous
work, A Century> of Dishonor. In his history of Leadville, Edward Blair writes,
Mary Hallock Foote was all the things Leadville was not. She was a lady of long
lineage, a writer and illustrator, and charming, feminine, and strangely wise.63
Though surrounded by the roughness of a mountain mining camp, the
Footes maintained a certain sense of eastern gentility, entertaining men and
women of prominence in their rustic cabin. The Footes log home in Leadville
was a frequent focus for...men of the camp, who came to discuss literary,
philosophical and artistic as well as scientific, questions.64
Arthur Foote had managed the Adelaide mine in Leadville for a couple of
years, but after several attempted take-overs of the mine, he decided to shut it
down and return to Milton. Back in New York, Mary drew on her experiences in
Colorado to write her first novel, The Led Horse Claim, a westernized version of
Romeo and Juliet woven among the story of a boundary dispute between two
Leadville mines (the Adelaide and the Argentine). The book ran as a serial in
Century Magazine from November 1882 through March of 1883. It was published
63 Blair, Edward. Leadville: Colorado s Magic City. Fred Pruett Books, Boulder, CO, 1980. Pg
57-58
64 Spense, Clarke C. Mining Engineers and the American West: The Lace Boot Brigade, 1849-
1933. New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 1970. Pg 332
68


under the same title in book form by James R.Osgood and Company in 1883, and
included several of her illustrations.
Figure 6.1 Underground, Mary Hallock Foote
69


Interestingly, she had to rewrite the conclusion in order to have a happy
ending before it could be published as a book. In one of the illustrations, that of a
woman in the mine, you can clearly see the detail of the engraving, and the varying
direction and weight of the marks that create depth.
The Footes traveled to Mexico in January of 1881, where Arthur had been
hired to investigate mines. Mary wrote three illustrated travel articles based on this
trip. The first article was published as the lead essay in the first issue of Richard
Gilders new journal, Century Magazine, which succeeded Scribners in
November of 1881.
In 1882, Arthur traveled to Wood River, Idaho to manage a mine. That fall
Mary gave birth to her second child, Elizabeth Townsend Foote (b. 9/9/1882). In
1883 she and her two children headed west to join Arthur, who had created a new
partnership, the Idaho Mining and Irrigation Company. His plan was to build an
irrigation system in the canyon and valley of the Boise River, a tributary of the
Snake River. It was a monumental undertaking, and, as it turned out, not a
particularly good time to begin a new company, as the 1883 recession had turned
into a depression by 1884. It was Marys income from her published stories,
novels and illustrations that kept the family financially afloat.
The Footes settled in the canyon, in relative isolation ten miles outside of
Boise. Their stone house was built with proceeds Mary made on her serialized
70


second novel, John Bodewin's Testimony, which was based on her Leadville
experiences. Although the plots and characters of the Colorado novels are
conventional and trivial, the writings are valuable for their presentation of facets of
life in a mining camp, discussion of legal complications in mining operations,
descriptions of social changes when Eastern culture came in contact with primitive
Western conditions and explanation of the effect of exploitation of Western
resources by Eastern investors.65
On June 23, 1886, her third child was bom, daughter Agnes. During the
next four years, the Footes were constantly on the brink of failure, as Arthur
continued to try to secure funding for his canal venture. Mary continued to write,
primarily illustrated stories for Century Magazine. Through her stories and
drawings she introduced readers in the East to the settlers, miners and engineers
who inhabited the new West.
Her most popular illustrated series was entitled Pictures of the Far West,
which was published in Century Magazine during 1888-1889. This series is
considered by many her best work, which showcases her premier talents as a
woodcut illustrator.66 This collection of drawings reflects a gentle, rural West.
Yet, many of them also capture the remoteness and enormity of the vast landscape
surrounding them, reflecting her own sense of isolation. Historian Richard Etulain
65 Benn, Mary Lou. Mary Hallock Foote: Early Leadville Writer, Colorado Magazine. Vol
XXXIII, No. 2, April 1956. Pg 102
66 Etulain, Richard. Re-imagining the Modem American West: A century of Fiction, History and
Art. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ 1996, Pg 74
71


points out that her earliest frontier art reflected her tentative, romantic reactions to
this strange, new West, but bit by bit.. .her artwork included more probing
67
depictions of the West she was beginning to comprehend.
Over the next several years, the Footes moved to Boise, then to a new
house on the Mesa. The canal project was considered an enormous failure and
Arthur reluctantly took a job with the governments Geological Survey.
(Eventually the Bureau of Reclamation, under Theodore Roosevelt, completed the
canal, but it was not finished until 1909). Mary and the children moved to Boise,
while Arthur traveled to Baja, California to open an onyx mine. Mary continued
to write, completing two novels, The Last Assembly Ball (1889), her last novel
based on her Leadville experiences, and The Chosen Valley (1892), which centered
on the canal project. Both ran as serials in Century before being published in book
form.
Arthur was later offered a job by his brother-in-law, James Hague, to
supervise the North Star Mine near Riverside, California. In 1895, the Footes
moved to North Star Cottage in nearby Grass Valley, where they remained for 30
years. Mary continued her writing, but had, for the most part, abandoned her art.
Her last known illustration was published in the March 1906 issue of the St.
Nicholas Magazine. In 1917, she wrote Edith Bonham, dedicated to her best 67
67 67 Etulain, Richard. Re-imagining the Modem American West: A century of Fiction. History and
Art. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ 1996, Pg 73
72


friend, Helena Gilder and in 1919, The Ground Swell, a tribute to her daughter,
Agnes, who had died from appendicitis at age 18. In all, Mary Hallock Foote
published sixteen novels.
In 1932, because of the depression and financial concerns, Mary and
Arthur Foote returned to the east, to live with their daughter, Betty, in Hingham,
Massachusetts. Arthur Foote passed away in August of 1933. Mary Hallock Foote
died June 25, 1938 at the age of 90 of arteriosclerosis. Though never lauded for
literary excellence, Foote was considered one of the most accomplished of
American illustrators68 and one of the finest illustrators of her time in
America.69 She worked during a period considered to be the Golden Age of
American woodcut illustration. Her fame as an artist was due in part to her
success as a writer, allowing her to be published frequently in Scribner's and
Century magazines, where her stories of the West were accompanied by her
engravings. Her illustrations of the West evoke stylistic similarities of Frederic
Remington and Winslow Homer. However, in her illustrations she did not
represent the myth of the rough and tumble Wild West; rather, her anecdotal vision
showed the civilizing influence of the pioneers and how they imposed their refined
on women and children and their lives in the West. The drawings evoke a sense of
barrenness and isolation and imply an intimacy with the scenes not often found in
68 Mainiero, Lina, Editor. American Women Writers. Volume 2, Frederick Ungar
Publishing Co., New York, 1979. Pg 62
69 Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting. Abbeville Press
Publishers, NY, 1990, Pg
73


Western illustrations. Her contribution to the portrayal of the West was the
uniquely female perspective. Lee Ann Johnson writes in her biography of Mary
Hallock Foote, One suspects that had Foote not been a woman in a mans
profession, and had she not retired early from the field, her credentials as a leading
nineteenth century illustrator would need no introduction.70 Mary Hallock Foote
has not been credited for helping to create the image of the West, yet her work is
an important perspective. Her images reflect an alternative to a purely masculine
point of view of the Old West and provide a realistic representation of family life
in the new frontier.
Although Mary Hallock Foote rarely exhibited her work, she did
participate in the first exhibition of the short-lived LeBrun Club of Denver in
1892. And in 1893 she was invited to exhibit drawings and watercolors at the
Worlds Columbian Exhibition.
While her illustrations are still available through the published books and
magazines, most of the original sketches have disappeared. In the beginning, she
drew directly on wood engraving blocks, which were destroyed in the process of
printing. Later she would submit the drawings to be engraved on wood by
someone else. Small collections of her drawings reside at Cooper Union in New
York City and the Library of Congress.
70 Johnson, Lee Ann. Mary Hallock Foote. Twayne Publishers, a Division of G.K. Hall & Co.,
Boston, 1980. Pg 155
74


CHAPTER 7
WOMEN ARTISTS IN THE 20th CENTURY
The turn of the century brought new opportunities for women to study and
pursue professional careers as artists. Art schools expanded and more universities
included the visual arts as professional majors. Women enrolled in colleges in
vast numbers. And while the ultra conservative programs, such as the National
Academy of Design, still did not permit women to attend anatomy lectures until
1914, more liberal institutions, like the New York School of Art and the Art
Students League allowed women the same access to nude models as male students,
although the mens and womens figure drawing classes were held separately for a
number of years to come. Women artists sold their work, entered competitions,
won prizes, earned traveling scholarships, were awarded commissions, participated
in national and international exhibitions, and generally took part in the activities of
the contemporary art world.
The growing tide of feminism, promoting womens causes including birth
control, access to higher education, economic independence and suffrage,
contributed to the changing circumstances for women. Hundreds of women were
75


able to support themselves as artists, earning the respect of the artistic community.
Yet, while the situation was improving, women still found themselves regarded
separately as women artists. Art historian Frances Borzello claims that equality
of opportunity turned out in practice to be rather an illusion.71 72 The reality was
that men remained primarily in charge of the artistic power structures, as directors
of the art schools, owners of galleries, trustees of the museums, and art critics.
Men also were the most influential patrons of art. Many of the male art instructors
voiced the belief that women art students were not as serious in their studies, or
were only in school to find a husband. To much of the traditional art community,
women artists were still considered amateurs, not requiring a profession to support
themselves.
Then there was the issue of gender in the actual art work. While talent was
supposedly genderless, the matter of differences was frequently raised, with critics
attempting to identify the feminine components in their work. Women were
always afraid that if they admitted their work had specifically female qualities it
72
was tantamount to labeling it as weak and in some way less than mens work.
The work of women artists, as in the World Fairs of the previous century, was
often separated, such as group shows of women artists. Cultivating a reputation
as an artist other than as the second-class woman artist remained difficult.
71 Borzello, Frances. A World of Our Own: Women as Artists Since the Renaissance.W atson-
Guptill Publication, New York, 2000. Pg 170
72 Ibid Pg 183
76


The turn of the century is often referred to as the Golden Age of
Illustration. There was a high demand for artists to depict scenes for newspapers,
magazines and books, and many women, such as Mary Hallock Foote, made an
acceptable living as illustrators.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, artists working in the same style
or subject matter (i.e. impressionism, abstraction) organized together to hold their
own exhibitions and to promote and sell their own work. This was a move away
from the established art organizations and its system of juried exhibitions. In
1910, Robert Henri, John Sloan and other New York artists organized the
Exhibition of Independent Artists, which allowed anyone paying the $ 10 entry fee
to exhibit. Women were able to participate more easily in these independent
societies and organizations, often serving as directors or exhibition organizers,
than in the closed system of juried exhibitions of the traditional art establishment.
By the 1920s, the number of independent galleries increased, some owned by
women such as Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Edith Halpert. While galleries
owned by women did not exclusively cater to women artists, they were generally
more inclusive.
The first third of the twentieth century saw a number of new art
movements, much of it influenced by the European works exported widely through
exhibitions that allowed young American artists to be exposed to new forms
without having to travel or study abroad. The techniques included impressionism,
77


modernism, cubism, fauvism, expressionism, surrealism, and abstraction. In 1908,
a group of artists calling themselves The Eight, introduced the country to the
Ash Can School, which depicted raw, realistic views of lower-class, urban life,
expressing a concern for the living conditions of the underprivileged immigrants
arriving in the country in great numbers. The leading artists in this movement
were John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and Robert Henri. While The
Eight consisted of only male artists, a number of women painters became
involved in this urban realism movement.
Women painters also benefited greatly by the growth of art colonies and
arts schools being developed across the country in resort locations, like
Woodstock, New York, Provincetown, Massachusetts, Ogundquit, Maine, Laguna
Beach, California and Taos, New Mexico. Art historian Charlotte Rubinstein
indicates that women artists played a large role in these communities and
flourished at the open art exhibitions organized by the local art associations, where
73
they were not at the mercy of the biases of the chauvinistic male jurors.
The 1930s introduced a new style of representational realism, known as
American Scene painting that portrayed daily life in both rural and urban scenes.
The prominent artists in this school were Grant Wood, Thomas Benton Hart and
Thomas Currey. While the technique was not initially popular with the public, it
became the basis for much of the art work commissioned during the New Deal 73
73 Rubinstein, Charlotte. American Women Artists: from Early Indian Times to the Present.G.K.
Hall & Co., Boston, 1982. Pg 200
78


federal arts projects. This style was embraced by many women artists, who
benefited from federal programs during the Depression.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States had become a world leader in art,
with artists working in a variety of styles including abstract modes, expressionism
and realism. While a number of women artists found success in the 1930s through
the federal art programs, it became more difficult to succeed in the following
decades. The forties, fifties, and sixties turned out to be a period of increased
discrimination. The leading galleries carried few works by women, and very few
women had solo shows in major museums in this period.74 After World War II,
women returned to their relatively passive roles in the family, through the
conservative and conforming fifties. The feminist movement, which had nearly
dissolved after the right to vote had been won. would not be revived until the
1960s.
Federal Art Projects
During the Great Depression a number of federally funded arts projects
were developed, through various New Deal programs, to assist with the
unemployment situation and provide artwork and sculptures for public buildings.
Each were distinct programs, with differing goals, administrations, budgets,
policies and purposes, although the distinctions were not always clear in the eyes
74 Rubinstein. Charlotte. American Women Artists: from Early Indian Times to the Present. G.K.
Hall & Co., Boston, 1982. Pg 268
79


of the public. During one of the most difficult periods in the countrys history,
artists were commissioned to create works depicting optimistic pictures of
idealized American workers and farmers, and significant events in U.S. history.
The work was primarily representational, in the American scene style most
popular at the time.
In May of 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief Act was passed, and created
the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). From this there emerged a
veritable alphabet soup of government acronyms. Under FERA the Civil Works
Administration (CWA) was established. In December of 1933 a grant from the
CWA funded the creation of the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), which was
the first of the federally funded art programs in the 1930s. The PWAP, under the
direction of Edward Bruce, operated for only six months, but provided
employment for over 3,700 artists who created murals, oil paintings, watercolors,
sculptures and crafts for public buildings.
In October of 1934 the Section of Painting and Drawing (later to be called
the Section of Fine Arts, and most often referred to as simply The Section) was
established under the direction of the Treasury Department. The U.S. Treasury
Department was responsible for the architecture and construction of all new
Federal buildings, including post offices, throughout the country. The Section,
under the leadership of Edward Bruce, was responsible for the decoration of all
new public federal buildings. Unlike the other New Deal art projects, the Section
80


was not concerned with providing relief work for unemployed artists, but to
provide high quality art for Federal buildings. Most of the Section work was done
by artists appointed by the administration. The rest of the work was commissioned
through competitions. Most of the competitions were not open to the general
artistic public. Restrictions were frequently placed making the competitions only
open to artists who lived in a particular state or region. Other competitions were
by invitation only.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created on May 6, 1935
by Executive Order 7034 issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In August of that year,
the WPA Federal Project Number One was established, which included music,
drama, writing and art. Holger Cahill was appointed to direct the Federal Art
Project, referred to as the W'PA/FAP. The primary objective of the FAP was to get
artists off the relief rolls and to integrate the arts with the community. The
WPA/FAP was a broad based program that encompassed mural painting, easel
painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photo and film, technical projects, art exhibitions,
art education, the Index of American Design (a visual archive of American
decorative arts from the colonial period through the nineteenth century) and the
establishment of over one hundred community art centers throughout the country.
The program existed for eight years, during which it created 2,566 murals, 108,500
easel paintings, 17,700 sculptures and 240,000 prints.
81


The fourth Federal art program was the Treasury Relief Art Projects
(TRAP), which was funding by a WPA grant in July of 1935. The grant was given
to the Treasury Department to produce work for Federal buildings. Unlike the
Section, TRAP was required to employ artists based upon financial need. The
program lasted for only three years.
The federal art programs were active throughout the 1930s, employing
hundreds of artists, until the funding began to dwindle with the military escalation
in Europe around 1939. Funding was terminated completely in June of 1943.
While these projects created numerous opportunities for women, the artists
involved in the federal art programs were predominantly men. For instance, in the
48 State Post Office competition, 28% of the entries were from women, but only
17% of the final commissions went to women artists. However, if taken as a
whole, the various New Deal arts programs included women in proportions closer
to the number in the general population. Approximately 40 percent of the artists
on relief were women, according to a 1935 survey. 75 76 Women were also well
represented in a number of administrative positions in the federal arts projects,
including regional and state directors. Among the women artists employed through
these programs were several Colorado artists, including Doris Lee, Ila McAfee,
Gladys Caldwell Fisher, Nadine Drummond, Ethel and Jenne Magafan and Louise
75 Melosh, Barbara. Engendering Culture: Manhood and Womanhood in New Deal Public Art and
Theatre. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington & London, 1991. Pg 227
76 Rubinstein, Charlotte S. American Women Artists: from Early Indian Times to the Present. G.K.
Hall & Co., New York, 1982. Pg 215
82


Ronnebeck. Although much of the federally funded art was lost, destroyed, or
painted over, a number of murals and sculptures by these artists still exist in post
offices and other federal and public buildings across the West.
Elsie Ward Hering (1872-1922)
Elsie Ward has been considered perhaps one of the most important
sculptors of the early part of the century. 77 She was bom in 1872 on a farm in
Howard County, Missouri, to parents Thomas and Alice Talbot Ward. Her family
relocated to Denver around 1887, where Elsie attended North High School. After
her graduation in 1889 she studied drawing and sculpture with several local artists,
including Preston Powers (son of famed sculptor Hiram Powers), Ida M. Stair,
Samuel Richards and Henry Read, at the Denver Womans Club and the Denver
School of Fine Arts. She joined the Denver Art Association and began exhibiting
her work around 1894 with the Denver Artists Club. In 1896, Elsie traveled to
New York City to continue her studies at the Art Students League, where her
instructors included Daniel Chester French, Siddons Mowbray and Augustus
Saint-Gaudens. While there, she took first place in an exhibition for a sculpture
entitled Youth.
77 Colorado Women in the Arts, 1860-1960. D&K Printing, Boulder, Colorado, 1979. Pg 20
83


Her sister, Margaret, was an art teacher who encouraged Elsie to continue
her studies. With financial support from her sister, Elsie headed to Paris in 1898.
During her studies there, she created a figure for a drinking fountain called Boy
and Frog for which she later received a medal at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair.
There is a cement cast of the figure at the Denver Botanical Gardens. She also
exhibited a piece at the Society of American Artists in Paris.
Elsie returned briefly to Denver in 1900 and set up a studio. Within the
year, she was contacted by her former teacher, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, with an
offer of a position as a studio assistant. She then moved to Cornish, New
Hampshire where she assisted Saint-Gaudens from 1902 until his death five years
later in 1907. While working for Saint-Gaudens, Ward continued to create her
own sculptures, including a commission by the Huguenot Group for a piece for the
Charleston Exposition of 1902. The sculpture, entitled Mother and Child stood
in front of the Womans Building and was awarded a silver medal. She also
completed a large work of a father, mother and two children to commemorate
early French settlers and a portrait statue of frontiersman George Rogers Clark. In
1906 she entered a competition for a Civil War Memorial for the grounds of the
Colorado State Capital in Denver. Her design, a female winged victory carrying a
laurel and a palm, was selected out of 30 entries. However, the sculpture was
never built due to reported opposition to the design from the veterans of the
G.A.R., and the legislatures reluctance to fund the $15,000 required to cast the
84


bronze piece. In the end, a bronze figure of a soldier donated by sculptor John
Howland, who sat on the jury for the competition, was erected in its place in 1909.
After the death of Saint-Gaudens, Ward remained in New Hampshire and
completed the commissions in progress, including the Baker Memorial in Mt.
Kisco which depicted a seated Christ in bronze with a background of praying
angels in bas-relief of white marble. Ward was especially noted for her ability to
sculpt wings.78
Elsie Ward returned to Denver in 1910, where she married Henry Hering,
another of Gaudens assistants. The couple moved to New York, where her
husband continued to work as a sculptor. Elsie assisted her husband in his studio,
but did little of her own work. She did, however, execute a baptismal font in 1917,
which she designed in the early 1900s, of an angel-child with detailed wings
holding a shell. The font was originally housed in St. Georges Church in New
York City, but was later moved to the former All Saints Episcopal Church at W.
32nd and Wyandot in Denver. Elsie Ward Hering died in 1923 at the age of 51.
Laura Gilpin (1891-1979)
Laura Gilpin pioneered the field of landscape photography for women
artists. In a field dominated by men, she carved out a place for herself, chronicling
the architecture, the landscape and the people of the American Southwest for over
78 Schlosser, Elizabeth. Modem Sculpture in Denver, 1919-1960. Ocean View Books, Denver,
1995. Pg. 13
85


sixty years, through both photos and narrative text. Landscape photography in the
West originated with the male photographers who accompanied the government
survey teams in the 1860s and 1870s. The work was extremely difficult, requiring
them to haul heavy equipment, chemicals and breakable glass plates up steep
inclines and rugged terrain. Very few women had even attempted such a challenge.
Laura Gilpin was bom on April 22, 1891 in Austin Bluffs, Colorado, just
north of Colorado Springs. Her father, Frank Gilpin, who was related to William
Gilpin, the first governor of the Colorado Territory, had moved to Colorado from
Baltimore in 1880. At the time of Lauras birth he was managing a mine in Central
City. Over the next thirty years Frank Gilpin would attempt a number of
occupations with varying degrees of success, including mining, ranching, and
investing, and eventually end up as a furniture craftsman.
In 1896, the family moved to Colorado Springs where Laura attended the
private Ferris School. Her best friend there was Anne Parrish, daughter of the
Colorado Springs artist of the same name. Laura and Anne, through family
acquaintances, had become friends with General William Jackson Palmer, the
founder of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and Colorado Springs. Together
they would go on long walks or horseback rides around the Pikes Peak area. Laura
79
attributed her life-long fascination with landscape to General Palmer. 79
79 Sandweiss, Martha A. Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth,
Texas. Pg 15
86


On her twelfth birthday, in 1903, she was given a Brownie camera, which
was the beginning of her interest in photography. Then, in 1905, her mother took
Laura and her younger brother to New York for a portrait sitting with the leading
woman photographer of the time, Gertrude Kasebier. Kasebier, also bom in
Colorado, would become her friend and mentor, encouraging Laura to pursue her
interest in photography. She recommended that Laura study at the Clarence White
School of Photography after completing high school. That same year, Laura was
sent East to attend the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where she felt
distinctly out of place. Her biographer, Martha A. Sandweiss writes, Laura felt
acutely aware of her special status as a westerner, proclaiming her identity by
wearing cowboy outfits to school parties and balls. In the fall of 1907, she
transferred to the Rosemary Hall School in Greenwich Connecticut, but returned
home to Colorado before receiving her high school diploma. She traveled east
again in 1910 to study violin at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her
family had by then moved to an 1800 acre ranch in Austin, Colorado and finances
were so tight that they were no longer able to support her education. Laura had to
return to Colorado after only six months in Boston. Back at home, she raised
turkeys, the first of many entrepreneurial enterprises. Her poultry business turned
out to be quite successful, allowing her to save enough money to move to New 80
80 Sandweiss, Martha A. Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth,
Texas. Pg 17
87


York in the fall of 1916 to study photography at the Clarence White School under
Max Weber and Paul Anderson. That same year, her first published photograph, a
view of the Grand Canyon, appeared in a photography magazine.
At the Clarence White School Laura was instructed in a particular style of
photography called pictorialism. Pictorialism was a photographic movement that
was popular beginning around 1885, following the widespread introduction of dry-
plate processing that emphasized mood instead of description. The style reached
its height in the early twentieth century. Pictorialism embraced the concept that
art photography needed to emulate the painting and etching of the time. The
primary methods used to create this result were soft focus, special filters and lens
coatings, heavy manipulation in the darkroom and exotic printing processes.
Rough surfaced printing paper was also used to further soften a pictures focus and
fine needles were employed to etch the surface of the prints. Pictorialists believed
in manipulating the reality seen through the lens in order to create a certain
mood.81 In a sense, this was the photographers attempt to assert artistic control
over the image, rather than create direct reproductions. Gilpin was strongly
influenced by Whites style and the use of pictorialism and embraced his idea of
photography as a personally expressive art.82 While in New York, she worked
extensively with the platinum printing process, which employs contact printing
81 Danneberg, Julie. Women Artists of the West: Five Portraits in Creativity and Courage. Fulcrum
Publishing, Golden, CO, 2002 Pg. 42
82 Norwood, Vera and Monk. Janice, editors. The Desert is No Lady: Southwestern Landscapes in
Woments Writing and Art. Yale University Press, New Haven. 1987. Pg 64
88


only; a format she would continue to use throughout her life, despite its general
discontinuance among later photographers.
After her graduation from the Clarence White School, Gilpin returned to
Colorado Springs and began her career as a professional photographer, promoting
her services for portraits, advertisements and brochures. At that time, photography
offered a less expensive alternative to painted portraits. Her brochure offered
portraiture for $35 for a studio sitting and $50 for a home sitting; each included
three platinum prints. Laura continued taking landscape photos of the nearby
mountains and prairies that she entered in competitive exhibitions, resulting in her
participation in fourteen group exhibitions in 1920. During that time she began
taking camping trips in Colorado and New Mexico to further explore and
photograph the local geography. In 1921, Gilpin joined the faculty of the
Broadmoor Art Academy, becoming the first, and only, instructor of photography
in residence. The following year she traveled to Europe for a few months to study
art, culture and architecture.
Gilpin took her first trip to the Native American cliff dwellings in Mesa
Verde, in the southwestern comer of Colorado, in 1924 and returned in 1925. In
describing Mesa Verde, with the forests on one side, plains and deserts on another
and mountains on two other sides, she writes, It would be difficult to find
89


anywhere a landscape more varied. In this environment she created dramatic
black and white photos with striking use of light and shadows to create depth. As
she pursued a focus on her landscape photography, she began to develop her own
sense of design and composition. As her expertise grew, she abandoned the soft-
focus pictorial style for a more clearly-focused representational approach. 83
Figure 7.2 Mesa Verde, Laura Gilpin
83 Gilpin, Laura. The Pueblos: A Camera Chronicle. University of Texas Press, Austin & London,
1968. Pg 43
90


Gilpin continued to find commercial ways to support her photography. In
1926 she self-published a booklet of her photos entitled The Pikes Peak Region:
Reproductions from a Series of Photographs by Laura Gilpin. The booklet is large
(approximately 8 x 11 ) and tied at the center binding with a string, with sheer
tissue paper between each of the 15 black and white photos. In it, she also, for the
first time, included some narrative text to accompany her photographs. She
described the Garden of the Gods as a place of gigantic forms, of entrancing
moods, of mystery. But in the late afternoon the Gods of the Garden are awake
and one may almost see them walking among the rich shadows of their sculptured
dwellings. The next year she produced a similar booklet with her photographs
of Mesa Verde, entitled The Mesa Verde National Park: Reproductions from a
Series of Photographs by Laura Gilpin. Gilpin also advertised a series of slides of
archeological monuments in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, which could be
rented for a $ 10 fee, along with an accompanying lecture that she created
presented in a form which may be easily and fluently read even by persons
unfamiliar with the subject.84 85 During this period, Gilpin also worked in Central
City for five years, photographing theatre productions for famed New York play
84 Gilpin, Laura. The Pikes Peak Region: Reproductions of a Series of Photographs by Laura
Gilpin. Gilpin Publishing Company, Colorado Springs, 1926.Pg. 4
85 Gilpin, Laura. Pictorial Lantern Slides of the Southwest, (pamphlet)
91