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Mae Huffman Duquette

 (1892 - 1978)
Mae Huffman Duquette was active/lived in Iowa, Nebraska, California, Kansas.  Mae Duquette is known for portrait, marine, still life, seascape and landscape painting.

Mae Huffman Duquette

Biography from the Archives of askART

Duquette, Mae Huffman
(1892, Rural Pottawattamie County, Iowa-1978, San Gabriel/Los Angeles, California)

Also known as Lillian Mae Duquette and Mae Huffman Duquette

With a lifetime devoted to painting, Mae Duquette worked in oil, watercolor, and pastels and did seascapes, landscapes, still life, and portraits. Many of these subjects reflected her residencies and travels in the Midwest, Southwest and California. Her favorite method was painting en plein-air, something she learned from her first teacher, Augustus Dunbier, who ever coached his students to “take your easels to the great outdoors”. She later studied plein-air painting in California with Sergei Bongert, Will Foster, and Theodore Lukits.

Mae was born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, across the Missouri River from Omaha. Her parents were Frank and Mary Huffman, and she, the youngest, had two brothers and one sister. When she was age 18 in 1910, she was living in southeast Iowa with her family at Wapello, and then in 1920, when she was age 27, she was back in Pottawattamie County in Council Bluffs with a husband, Charles Medard Duquette, and a son, age 5, who was also named Charles.

At that time, she began her art studies with Dunbier in Omaha and took classes either at his studio at 1617 Wirt Street or at the YMCA. By the 1930s, she and her family were residents of Omaha, which was becoming a major metropolis with opportunities for instruction and exhibitions for practicing artists. In addition to classes at the YMCA, there were teachers including J. Laurie Wallace and Augusta Knight, who had established an art department at the University of Omaha. The Omaha Art Guild, founded in 1911 and directed by Wallace, sponsored exhibitions, as did the Omaha Society of Fine Arts, formed in 1906; the Omaha Artists Society and Omaha Art Institute, founded in 1925; and Joslyn Memorial Art Museum, completed in 1931.

In this environment, Mae seemed to be excelling. Special recognition came in 1932 with her paintings exhibited at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and with the addition of her portrait of Thomas McKean, first Governor of Pennsylvania and signer of the Declaration of Independence, to the Smithsonian collection in Washington D.C.

In 1930, she exhibited in the gallery of the Omaha Art Institute, and In December 1938, she won an award from the Society of Liberal Arts exhibition at Joslyn Memorial Museum in Omaha for her landscape, The Desert-Near Tucson. She had also joined the Southwest Art Association and Artists of the Southwest, generated by her trips to Taos, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona, where she visited Augustus Dunbier and his wife in both locations.

Although Nebraska seemed to be treating her well, by 1940, Mae and her family were living in Los Angeles County, where she had studios in San Gabriel and Pasadena. Shortly after the move, she became a widow as her husband, age 55, died in 1944. With only a grown son, she devoted herself to painting and participating in art organizations and related exhibitions. 

Her memberships included California Art Club, San Gabriel Fine Arts Association, Whittier Art Association, Pasadena Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters, and Pasadena Art Association for whom she gave painting demonstrations.

Sources:, accessed 10/2014

Falk, Peter Hastings, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art, Volume I

Hughes, Edan Milton, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Joslyn Memorial Art Museum exhibition catalogue, 1938, The Society of Liberal Arts Five States Exhibit

Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West

Pasadena Independent, May 8, 1964

Researched, written, and copyrighted by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, 2015
Museum of Nebraska Art Project:
Their Place, Their Time: Women Artists in Nebraska, 1825-1945

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born on Jan. 30, 1892 in Boomer Township, IA. Mae Huffman Duquette began her art studies in 1922 with August Dunbier and continued for 15 years with Will Foster, Theodore Lukits, and Sergei Bongart.

She married Charles Duquette and lived in Omaha, NE before moving to southern California.  A longtime resident of San Gabriel, CA, she died there on June 4, 1978. Working in oil, watercolor, and pastel, she painted landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and seascapes.

California Art Club; SouthWest Artists; Pasadena Art Association; Whittier Art Association; Highland Park Art Club.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1932; Kansas City Art Institute; Omaha, NE, 1938;  Whittier Art Association, 1945, 1946;  California Art Club, 1950;  Artists of the SouthWest, 1955; Southland Art Association (Montebello), 1955-58; California State Fairs; Tri-Club (Alhambra), 1961; San Gabriel Gallery, 1973

Smithsonian Institution

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1956-63.

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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About  Mae Huffman Duquette

Born:  1892 - Rural Pottawattamie County, Iowa
Died:   1978 - Los Angeles, California
Known for:  portrait, marine, still life, seascape and landscape painting

Essays referring to
Mae Huffman Duquette

Taos pre-1940