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Lilian Hale

 (1880 - 1963)
Lilian Coleman Westcott Hale was active/lived in Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota.  Lilian Hale is known for figures in sunlit interiors and portrait painting.

Lilian Hale

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Lilian Hale
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Lilian Westcott Hale created a broad range of impressionist* and realist* style paintings including portraits, landscapes, still life, figure and interior scenes. She was particularly noted for charcoal drawing and for her innovation of placing a still life on a window sill to reveal the landscape beyond. Often when she exhibited her work, she placed her sketch drawings next to its companion painting.

Hale was the youngest of three daughters born to Edward and Harriet Westcott and was obviously gifted from a young age. She attended the Hartford Art School in Connecticut where her talents were noticed by William Merritt Chase, one of the country's renowned Impressionists, who proved to be her major influence.

She attended Chase's summer school at Shinnecock, Long Island, and in 1900, having earned a scholarship from the Hartford Art Society, she began classes at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts*. She was a student of Edmund Tarbell and Philip Leslie Hale, whom she married in 1902.

After graduating from the Museum School in 1904 and a trip to Europe, she began annual exhibitions in Boston and received wide acclaim for the beauty of her figure and still life paintings and the quality of their draftsmanship and drawing.

The birth of her daughter, Anna Westcott Hale, in 1908 caused her to give up her Boston Fenway Studio where she had worked with leading artists including Frank Benson, Joseph De Camp, her husband, and sometimes John Singer Sargent.

The Hales moved to Dedham, Massachusetts, near Boston, and her maternity restrictions proved to be only a temporary diversion from her art. She began sketching domestic scenes, which revealed her obvious delight in motherhood. She set up her studio at home, and from her window painted many quintessential New England snow scenes and garden views. It was said that her love of gardening equaled her love of painting.

In 1910, she won the Bronze Medal at the Buenos Aires Exposition and the Gold Medal at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915. She continued to exhibit widely, and in the 1920s gained the attention of Duncan Phillips, a major patron of the arts who created The Phillips Museum in Washington D.C.

She also gained many portrait clients and was elected a member of the National Association of Portrait Painters*. In 1927, she won the prestigious Altman Prize* at the National Academy of Design* for her Portrait of Taylor Hardin. The situation was unusual in two respects-- she was the first woman to win that prize, and the portrait was one of her few male subjects.

Her husband died in 1931. She had a terrible time recovering emotionally, and for several years did no painting. She organized a memorial exhibition of his work at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, and eventually resumed her own career. In 1955, she moved to Virginia to be near her daughter and grandchildren and spent her summers in Rockport, Massachusetts with her unmarried sister-in-law, Ellen Day Hale.

Lillian died unexpectedly in 1963 in St. Paul, Minnesota after winning a portrait prize from the Rockport Art Association and a trip to Italy. She is remembered for a lifetime of serious commitment to her art and for the quality of her paintings.

Joan Archer, "The Life and Work of Lilian Westcott Hale", American Art Review, April 1999
Erica Hirshler, A Studio of Her Own

Richard McGrath, Accompanying biography submission to

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Lilian Hale
[There seems to be some confusion over the correct life dates and where the artist was born.
 Some sites list 1881 as her birth year and having her born in Hartford Ct.

The Smithsonian has the correct dates as 1880 as well as Erica Hirshler's 1992 thesis on Lilian Westcott Hale.
The below is meant to correct some of the wrong information floating about.]

Lilian was born in Bridgeport CT on 12/07/1880. The Bridgeport archival records list that date
as well as her name "Lillie Coleman Westcott".

Her father, Edward G. Westcott, is listed as the president of the Bridgeport Sharp's Rifle co.
from 1876-1878 in the Bridgeport city directories, and the treasurer of that company in the
1879-1880 Bridgeport city directory. The 1881 city directory only shows his Bridgeport home
address without any affiliation to the Sharp's Rifle Co.

The 1900 federal census for Lilian C. Westcott" also shows her birthdate as 12/07/1880
and the family is now residing in Hartford.

 Written and submitted by Richard McGrath

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Lilian Hale
The following, submitted June 2003, is from Joyce Alban Kennedy, Chesapeake, VA

My great aunt, ("Aunt Ellie") Ellen MacLaine was Mrs. Hale's housekeeper in Dedham for many years, and became her companion in the summer on the North Shore. Our family visited Mrs. Hale and Aunt Ellie both in Dedham and in Gloucester, at the summer home. I can remember sitting in the garden chairs on a Sunday afternoon, and also going to the beach that was reserved for just the residents and their guests.

Mrs. Hale wanted to paint my portrait when I was little, and my mom always kicked herself later on, because at the time she did not realize what a renowned artist Mrs. Hale was, and what an honor it would have been. Mrs. Hale gave my parents her sterling candlesticks for their wedding in 1934, which I now have. Engraved on each in block letters is "L.W.H." She also gave my mother a porcelain swing with two children on it in 1942 when my sister was born.

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.
Lilian Westcott Hale (American, 1881-1963):

Lilian Westcott Hale was born Lilian Clark Westcott December 7, 1881 in Hartford, CT. She first studied with William Merritt Chase and the American Magazine of Art (vol. 19, #2, Feb. 1927, p. 61) states that he was "afraid to interfere with what she was doing" (taken from Dictionary of Artists in the Boston School, see Pierce, Edmund C. Tarbell and the Boston School, 1980, p. 163).

She also studied with Edmund C. Tarbell at the Museum School in Boston and with Philip Leslie Hale at the school (who she married at the age of 20). Tarbell, Hale, Chase and Elizabeth Stevens were major influences on Hale's development as an artist and she is (with Gretchen Rogers), perhaps, the finest draftsman of the Boston School students who trained under Tarbell. Typical subject matter included portraiture, genre interiors and outdoor subject animated with figures drawn to perfection and delicately refined in nature.

Hale was a member of National Academy (ANA 1927, NA 1931), the Rockport AA, Conn. Academy of Fine Art, Concord AA, Guild of Boston Artists, Portrait Painters, Grand Central Art Galleries, American Federation of art and more.

Solo exhibitions included Rowlands Galleries (Boston 1908), Arlington Galleries (ca. 1910), Guild of Boston Artists (1916, 1920, 1923, 1925, 1916 and a Memorial Exhibition in 1966), Corcoran Gallery (Wash., DC 1919) and Grand Central Galleries (NY 1925).

Awards include Hartford Scholarship, MFA (1901); Gold medal and Medal of Honor, Pan-Pacific Expo., San Fran. (1915); Palmer Gold medal, Art Institute of Chicago (1920); Beck Gold Medal, PAFA (1923); Shaw Prize, NAD (1924); Medal of Honor, Concord AA (1925); 1st Altman Prize, NAD (1927); medal, Buenos Aires Exposition (1941) and more.

Married artist Philip Leslie Hale, June 11, 1902. Resided at the Fenway Studios, Boston. One daughter, Nancy.

Patricia Jobe Pierce, Historian

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Lilian Hale

Born:  1880 - Bridgeport, Connecticut
Died:   1963 - St. Paul, Minnesota
Known for:  figures in sunlit interiors and portrait painting