Tonsberg was born in Boston on February 3, 1902 and was trained in her native city, where she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Then in New York City she studied at the Art Students League under William McNulty (1884-1963), where he taught, beginning in 1931. Leon Kroll (1884-1974) was her teacher at the National Academy of Design. There, some of Kroll's superb skills as a draftsman and figure painter would have rubbed off.
Tonsberg was active in several Massachusetts arts organizations: the Rockport Art Association, the Gloucester Society of Artists, the Guild of Boston Artists, and the North Shore Arts Association. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1933 Tons
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