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Ellsworth Woodward

 (1861 - 1939)
Ellsworth Woodward was active/lived in Louisiana, Massachusetts.  Ellsworth Woodward is known for landscape painting, etching, teaching.

Ellsworth Woodward

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ellsworth Woodward
During the late 19th Century in New Orleans, Ellsworth and his older brother William Woodward were two of the most influential figures in Southern art. Ellsworth was born 1861 in Seekonk, Massachusetts, but the two brothers made New Orleans their home (around 1876) and devoted themselves to promoting Southern culture and art as artists, teachers and administrators.

Ellsworth studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and later in the studios of C. Marr, Samuel Richards, and Richard Fehr in Munich. He began teaching at Tulane, serving as assistant professor under his brother, William, then became a professor of art, and eventually director.

The brothers were instrumental in the organization of Newcomb College. Ellsworth accepted a position as a professor of art at Newcomb in 1885, a year after William had joined the faculty. In 1890 Ellsworth was promoted to the first Dean of the Newcomb School of Art, a position he maintained for forty years.

Under Ellsworth Woodward's leadership as dean, the newly established Newcomb Art School in New Orleans developed a program that served as both an educational and business enterprise for young women. The school focused on principles of drawing, painting, design, and crafts (embroidery, metalwork and china painting). The pottery department, established by Ellsworth and William, produced the internationally recognized Newcomb Pottery. The Woodwards emphasized the unique regional characteristics of Louisiana by insisting on the use of local flora and fauna for motifs in the prevailing Art Nouveau style and the use of clay from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

A dominant and active member of the art community, Ellsworth served as an influential trustee at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art (today the New Orleans Museum of Art), founded the Natchitoches Art Colony in Cane River Parish, Louisiana, served on international jury for the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, and became a member of the International Union of Fine Arts and Letters of Paris. He received a gold medal for the New Orleans Art Association, published the art and literary magazine Arts and Letters with fellow artist Bror Wikstrom, and painted allegorical murals for the criminal courts building at Broad Street and Tulane Avenue. In 1934 President Roosevelt appointed him to the directorship of the Gulf States Public Works of Art Project.

Although he painted in oils and made etchings, Ellsworth preferred watercolors and in 1936 the Fine Arts Council established a prize in his name. Both Woodward brothers found inspiration in the coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Louisiana State Museum,

Newcomb College History,

New Orleans Museum of Art,

Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery

Born in Seekonk, Massachusetts, Ellsworth Woodward attended the Rhode Island School of Design and then traveled to Munich where he studied with Car Marr and Samuel Richards. In 1884, he settled in New Orleans and taught art, establishing a department at Sophie Newcomb College, of which he became the director. He also taught at Tulane University where his brother, the artist William Woodward, served as chairman of that art department. The brothers shared a devotion to the natural landscape and were also ardent advocates for the New Orleans art scene, frequently representing picturesque subjects of the South, especially the historic French Quarter.

Woodward often worked in watercolor and grew to favor a more expressive technique and a bright, light-drenched palette. He was involved with the Providence Art Club, Southern States Art League, and the Art Association of New Orleans before dying in New Orleans.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from The Johnson Collection
Although he was not a native of the South, Ellsworth Woodward became a force in Southern art education and a dynamic spokesman for his adopted region. Born in Seekonk, Massachusetts, he was one of six children. Ellsworth and his older brother William would both become artists, a career path ignited by their visit to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. From 1878 to 1880, Ellsworth attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, established in 1877 as one of the first institutions of higher learning to specialize in art and design. Around 1884, he furthered his education in Munich, studying briefly with Samuel G. Richards.

In 1885, Ellsworth Woodward—still a young man in his twenties—joined his brother William on the art faculty of Tulane University in New Orleans. Two years later, he became professor of art at Sophie Newcomb College, the women’s coordinate of Tulane, which had been founded in 1886. In 1890, he was made director of the art school, a position he held for forty-one years. Under Woodward’s leadership, the college sought to prepare women to pursue vocations in the applied arts, including pottery, book design, silversmithing, jewelry, and textiles. The curriculum emphasized the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement as a counterpoint to the proliferation of machine-made products, focusing instead on the creation of beautiful handcrafted objects suitable for everyday use.

Besides painting, teaching, and his administrative responsibilities at Newcomb, Woodward was active in many local and regional organizations. He was a leading advocate for the establishment of the New Orleans Art Association in 1900 and the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans in 1922; he also supported preservation efforts in the historic French Quarter. He was integrally involved in the establishment of the Delgado Museum of Art (now the New Orleans Museum of Art) and, beginning in 1925, was its acting director for fourteen years, six of which included duty as president of the board as well.

Woodward’s most influential role, however, may have been as a catalyst and champion of the Southern States Art League, an organization he led as president from its inception in 1921 until 1939. He explained its purpose to the local press: “The movement is not centralized in any city or around any group of artists: it is of the South, for the South and by the South, and its ultimate aim is to form in the South an appreciation of what the South can and will create in the fine arts.” A skilled orator and charismatic persona, he delivered speeches on art around the country for organizations such as the College Art Association, the American Library Association, and the Atlanta Art Association. Three years after his retirement from Newcomb College in 1931, he was appointed to direct the Gulf States Public Works of Art Project.

While his teaching and leadership responsibilities claimed the majority of his time, Woodward faithfully pursued his own craft. He made drawings and etchings, and painted in oil and watercolor. The latter works—impressionistic scenes depicting Louisiana landscapes, New Orleans city life, and the places he visited while traveling—were represented in important exhibitions, including annuals at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After a full life dedicated to art education and promoting Southern art, Woodward died in New Orleans at the age of seventy-eight. Woodward’s art is included in public collections in Louisiana and beyond, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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About  Ellsworth Woodward

Born:  1861 - Seekonk, Massachusetts
Died:   1939 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Known for:  landscape painting, etching, teaching