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 Susan (Serpell) Watkins  (1875 - 1913)

About: Susan (Serpell) Watkins


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Lived/Active: California      Known for: portrait, interiors and genre painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Susan Watkins
1875 (California)


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portrait, interiors and genre painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Joseph Mason Reeves:

Susan Watkins was born to a prominent California family in 1875 and moved, at the age of fifteen to New York City where her father became an editor for the New York Sun.  From 1890 to 1896 she studied at The Art Students League, which had William Merritt Chase among its many illustrious artist-teachers at that time.

After her father's death in 1896, she and her mother moved to Paris, where she took up study with the academic painter Raphael Collin and was soon recognized as one of his best students.  In addition to her studies, Watkins sketched extensively in museums and made visual records of her travels.

"La Petite Hollandaise," the first painting Watkins exhibited at the Paris Salon, received an honorary mention in 1899, and two years later she received a gold medal for "1830 Girl." She continued to exhibit in the French Salons until 1908, at which time she ended her self-imposed exile in Europe.

During her career, she also exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Society of American Artists. She became an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design in 1912.

Watkins worked in a variety of styles for the duration of her career. Many of her works employ dark tonality and are reminiscent and style and subject of the 17th century Dutch paintings.  She also did many genre pieces, usually of women in casual poses.

The above excerpt is from The Genius of the Fair Muse by Elyse Topalian, 1987.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in California in 1875. Watkins studied at the ASL in NYC and then spent ten years in Paris as a pupil of Raphael Collin. She began her career as a landscape painter but portraits soon became her forte. In 1911 she married banker Goldsborough Serpell and settled in Norfolk, VA. She died there on June 18, 1913. Member: ANA (1912). Exh: Paris Salon, 1899, 1901 (gold medal); Louisiana Purchase Expo (St Louis), 1904 (silver medal); Mark Hopkins Inst. (SF), 1906; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909; NAD, 1910 (prize); Vickery, Atkins & Torrey (SF), 1910. In: CHS.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1903-15; SF Call, 9-7-1911; Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); California State Library (Sacramento); Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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