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 Catharine Carter Critcher  (1868 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia/New Mexico/West Virginia      Known for: Indian figure, portrait and genre painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 2
Catharine Carter Critcher
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Catharine Critcher became the first and only woman member of the Taos Society of Artists in Taos, New Mexico, elected in 1924.  She was known for her formal portrait paintings of distinguished easterners and also for portraits of New Mexico and Arizona Indians.  In addition, she did landscape paintings, florals and figures, and locations in addition to the Southwest included Mexico, Canada, France, and Massachusetts.

Critcher was raised on her family estate in Audley in Westmoreland County, and was the daughter of John Critcher, a judge and U.S. Congressman, and Elizabeth Whiting Critcher.

She studied at Cooper Union School of Design in New York City in 1890, and the next year at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC.  She then worked for thirteen years as a portrait artist in the DC area, followed by study in Paris at the Academié Julian and with Richard Miller and Charles Hoffbauer.  In 1911, she exhibited at the Paris Salon.  In Paris in 1905, she founded her own school of art, the Cours Critcher, where she showed much administrative ability as well as painting talent.  She maintained the school until 1909, when she returned to the United States.

From 1911 to 1917, she was an instructor at the Corcoran School of Art, and in 1924 in Washington D.C. with a partner, Clara Hill, founded another school of art, The Critcher School of Painting and Applied Arts.  Critcher served as Director until 1940 when she decided to devote herself full time to painting.   In 1943, she settled in Charles Town, West Virginia, and in 1957, moved to a nursing home in Blackstone, Virginia, where she died in 1964.

In 1922, Catharine first went to Taos, New Mexico and returned each summer through 1926 and again in 1928.  She said . . . "Taos is unlike any place God ever made.  . . . There are models galore and no phones."  (Kovinick 59). She did some notable portrait studies and continued to return for many summers, and in 1924 was unanimously voted into the all-male Taos Society of Artists.  She is recalled as energetic and attractive and startling in Washington D.C. because she would return after her summers in Taos "with a wrinkled, deeply suntanned skin in the 1920s when that was not fashionable" (Samuels, 115). 

From New Mexico, she traveled to Arizona where in 1928, she spent two months during the summer sketching and painting on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northern Arizona.  Among her painting titles from that period are Hopi Indian Home and Snake Chief.

Sources include:
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Catharine Critcher was born into a wealthy Westmoreland County, Virginia family. She studied art at the Copper Union School in New York and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C before leaving for Paris to study at the Academie Julian. After the Academie, Critcher founded an art school of her own, the Cours Critcher Painting School, in Paris before returning to the United States and teaching at the Corcoran School. After six years at the Corcoran, Critcher again founded her own art school, this time called The Critcher School of Painting and Applied Arts. In 1920, Critcher made her first trip to Taos, New Mexico, with which she became almost immediately infatuated. "Taos is unlike any place God ever made, I believe, and therein is its charm and no place could be more conducive to work; there are models galore and no phones, the artists all live in these attractive funny little adobe houses away from the world, food, foes and friends." She became the first and only woman to be inducted into the Taos Society of Artists and was unanimously approved by the group.

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Catharine Critcher is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940
Women Artists

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