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 Pauline Lennards Palmer  (1867 - 1938)

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Lived/Active: Illinois / Norway      Known for: landscape, interiors, portrait and genre painting

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Pauline Lennards Palmer
from Auction House Records.
Sketch Club, Provincetown
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Pauline Palmer (née Lennards in McHenry, Illinois 1867 – Trondheim, Norway 15 August 1938) was one of Chicago’s early twentieth-century portrait and landscape painters who became one of the Midwest’s most active and energetic exponents of impressionism.  Palmer’s father, Nicholas Lennards, a Woodstock, Illinois merchant, encouraged her to pursue art.  Pauline studied at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1893 and 1898, including a one-month session with William Merritt Chase in 1897, and further temporary instruction with Frank Duveneck.  In 1899, her work was compared to that of Chase: “She draws well, her colors are true and values well rendered; all the result of persistent and careful study.” (M. M., 1899, p. 217).  Later that year, Palmer enrolled in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi in Paris, where Raphaël Collin was one of her teachers, and studied privately with Richard Miller.  She made her debut in the Paris Salon of 1903, on which occasion Guillaumina Agnew wrote about Palmer’s popularity in The Sketch Book (July 1903): “Mrs. Palmer was the favorite among all the American artists here. . . .”  At the St. Louis Universal Exposition, Palmer won a bronze medal for three works, one of which, The White Shawl, was illustrated in Paul Schulze’s memorial article in 1939.  An elegantly dressed woman is reading, seated in a profile pose that recalls paintings by Mary Cassatt.  Later in 1915, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, her painting The Ledge was on view.

Bulliet (1936) noted how Palmer’s portrait of a Spanish boy, Rojerio was compared to works by Goya, therefore praised highly.  She continued to have paintings accepted for exhibition in the Salons until 1911.  Indeed, Palmer’s exhibition record is phenomenal and she won an impressive number of awards.  At the Art Institute of Chicago between 1896 and her death, she exhibited more than 250 works.  That museum has two of her works: After the Rain (ca. 1910) and Provincetown (1926).  Although Palmer traveled extensively, she remained an integral member of the Midwest’s art community.  During her distinguished career, she would become the first woman president of the Chicago Society of Artists (1918 to 1929).  Having returned from Paris to America, Palmer met the celebrated opera star, Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936) at the Appleton, Wisconsin music festival.  In 1912, the diva called on Palmer to execute portraits of her children at her home in Caldwell, New Jersey.  Records at the San Diego Museum of Art show that Schumann-Heink’s portrait was formerly in their collections, then de-accessioned.  Bulliet tells the colorful story of this commission and how Palmer managed to get the restless boy to sit still for his portrait.

Palmer’s earliest works have a lingering Barbizon School look, with somber tones and an unsystematic use of broken color.  Later her palette became lighter as she grew more bold in the application of pigment, created less rigid compositions, but finally she abandoned the plein-air manner for a Fauve-like expressionism.  Palmer never stopped learning: after her career was well established, she moved to Provincetown and studied with Charles Hawthorne.  There, she enjoyed painting Portuguese children.  One of her Provincetown works is the delightful interior scene called The Artist’s Studio (Private collection; see Seckler, 1977, p. 153).  Despite her inquisitiveness and the loosening up of her technique, Palmer was considered to be a foe of modernism (Bulliet, 1935).  In 1923, she left the Chicago Society of Artists after works by three abstract artists were accepted for the annual exhibition.  Palmer formed the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, which represented the more traditional wing of the Chicago Society of Artists who followed her (Bulliet, 1939).  One CSA painter she could not accept, and with whom she continued to feud in P-Town, was Flora Schofield (1873-1960), who started in Hawthorne’s Cape Cod School of Art then joined the modernist wave by studying under Albert Gleizes and André Lhote in Paris, then with B. J. O. Nordfeldt in Provincetown.  Fiercely cosmopolitan, and an opponent of regionalism, Flora Schofield developed her own representational style tinged with cubism.

At her death in 1938, Palmer was called “one of the leading woman painters in America.” (New York Times obituary, 16 August 1938).  The Art Institute of Chicago organized a memorial exhibition, which opened in the following year, and in the summer of 1950, the Art Institute issued two $750 prizes bearing Palmer’s name.  Gerdts (1990) praises Palmer as “one of the earliest and finest” Chicago outdoor figure painters who worked in the impressionist aesthetic.

Sources:
M.M. "Pauline Palmer." Arts for America 8 (January 1899): 217-218; Stevenson, Minnie Bacon. "Woman Heads Artists' Society of Chicago." Fort Dearborn Magazine, April 1920; Bulliet, C. J. "Around the Galleries." Chicago Daily News, 13 April 1935, p. 9; Idem. Chicago Daily News, 8 February 1936; Idem.  "Artists of Chicago Past and Present." Chicago Daily News, 25 April 1939;  Seckler, Dorothy Gees. Provincetown Painters -- 1890s - 1970s. Syracuse, NY: Everson Museum of Art, 1977;  Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences. Pauline Palmer: American Impressionist 1867-1938. Exh. cat. Lakeview, IL: 1984; Gerdts, William H. Art across America. New York: Abbeville Press, 1990, vol. 2, p.; Sternberg, Paul E. Art by American Women : Selections from the Collection of Louise and Alan Sellers. Gainesville, GA: Brenau College, 1991, p. 45.

Submitted by Richard H. Love and Michael Preston Worley


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in McHenry, Illinois, Pauline Palmer became a painter in realist/impressionist style of wide variety of subjects including landscapes, street and beach scenes, genre, and portraits.  She trained at the Art Institute of Chicago*, and studied with William Merritt Chase, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Charles Hawthorne. She also studied in Paris.

She married Dr. Albert Palmer of Chicago, and he encouraged her art career.  She exhibited annually at the Art Institute for nearly three decades and during that time, won most of the major awards and prizes.  Highly active in Chicago, she was the first woman elected president of the Chicago Society of Artists (1918).  She was also a member of the Chicago Art Guild, the Chicago Arts Club, and exhibited with these groups as well as the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors*.

The Palmers had a summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and were much a part of the art community there.  She was widowed at age fifty three and spent even more time after that in her Cape Cod studio.  Children of the Portuguese fishermen and simple activities by the sea were favorite subjects of hers.

Sources:
American Art Review, April 2002
Jules and Nancy Heller, North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

Biography from The Caldwell Gallery:
Pauline Lennards Palmer was born in McHenry, Illinois in 1867. As a young woman, Palmer was schooled in a convent in Milwaukee and later attended the Art Institute in Chicago. Travel to Paris provided study under artists Simon, Collin, and Courtois.

In 1891, she married Dr. Albert Palmer of Chicago, who encouraged her development as an artist. The Palmers maintained a summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Palmer made friends with many of the Portuguese fishermen's families. Several of them, especially the children, became subjects for her later works. She also studied at this time with Charles Hawthorne. Following Dr. Palmer's death in 1920, the artist spent much of her time in a private studio in Cape Cod.

Palmer was involved in numerous organizations. She was a member of the Chicago Municipal Art League, Chicago Art Guild, a charter member of the Chicago Women's Salon, and a director of the Chicago Drama League. In 1918, she was elected the first woman President of the Chicago Society of Artists. She also served as President of The Art Institute Alumni Association in 1927, and as President of the Chicago Association of Painters and Sculptors from 1929 until 1931.

Palmer has also exhibited widely during her lifetime, with the earliest showing in 1898, and later at expositions in Buffalo (1901), St. Louis (1904), and San Francisco (1915). Starting in 1899, she exhibited annually at the Art Institute of Chicago for 27 years, where she became a legend by winning nearly all of the museum's major awards, purchase prizes, and honorable mention citations.

In 1938, Palmer and her sister, Marie Lennard, traveled on an "artist's tour" of England and Scandinavian countries. She became ill in Trondheim, Norway and died there on August 15th of pneumonia. Obituaries celebrating her lifetime of artistic achievement called her "Chicago's Painter Lady".

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Pauline Lennards was born in McHenry, Illinois in 1867. She attended a convent in Milwaukee for her schooling and later began her art study at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1878, she was made supervisor of art for the Chicago public school system. She continued her work at the Art Institute and married Dr. Albert Palmer in 1891. He encouraged her to persist in her study of art and along with William Merritt Chase, her teacher for two years at the Art Institute, advised her to study in Paris.

During the 1890s, Mrs. Palmer studied under Simon, Collin and Courtois in Paris. She won a gold medal at the Colarossi Academy and a bronze medal at the Academy de la Grande Chaumiere. While in Paris she exhibited at the Paris Salon for four consecutive years, from 1903 to 1906, and then again in 1911. Her principal teacher and friend in Paris was Richard Emil Miller.

Upon her return to Chicago, Mrs. Palmer set up her studio in the Tree Studios Building and began to build her reputation as the "painter lady." While working in Chicago, she exhibited 32 times at the Art Institute, winning many medals and prizes primarily between 1907 and 1921. She also won medals at an art exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898, at another exhibit in Buffalo, New York in 1901, at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, and at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. After her husband died in 1921, Mrs. Palmer moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts with Charles W. Hawthorne and set up a new studio.

In both 1913 and 1950, the Art Institute of Chicago installed exhibitions solely featuring works by Pauline Palmer. She became president of the Chicago Society of Artists in 1919--the first woman to hold this position--and president of the Art Institute Alumni Association in 1927. When traveling in Europe in 1938, she became ill in Trondheim, Norway and died of pneumonia on the 15th of August. In 1950, the Art Institute began giving an annual award in her honor.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Pauline Palmer is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915



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