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 Grace Thurston Arnold Albee  (1890 - 1985)



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Lived/Active: New York/Pennsylvania/Rhode Island / France      Known for: black and white woodblock engraving, painting

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Grace Thurston Arnold is primarily known as Grace Thurston Arnold Albee

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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Keith Albee, grandson of Grace Albee "who lived in my father's house in NYC for many years, including the first 15 years of my life. The bio that follows was written by my uncle [her eldest son] in preparation of the 1999 exhibition mentioned below. "

Grace Thurston Arnold Albee, N.A. (1890-1985) was born in North Scituate, R.I. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1912.  The following year she married Percy F. Albee - Painter, muralist and printmaker. She devoted the next period of her life to her husband and family, years which included the rearing of her five sons.

In 1928, the Albee family moved to Paris, settling in for a five year stay in the French Capital.  There Grace Albee returned to the world of art.  She studied wood-engraving under Paul Bournet at the Institut d'Esthetique Contemporaire. Her progress was rapid and success soon followed.  She was chosen for a one-woman exhibition in Paris in 1932, a rare accomplishment for an American artist.

The following year she returned to the United States where she directed her skills as a wood-engraver to the American scene.  Incredibly from then to her 91st year, she had been cutting images on wood blocks and sending sought after prints to art galleries and museums in much of the Western world.

Albee's wood-engravings are renowned for their detail and subtlety of tone.  She succeeded in cutting into her blocks the spirit of her subjects in addition to their exacting representation.  They have importance as such in the history of the American print, the more so since the present generations of black and white artists have all but abandoned the quest.  It thus comes as no surprise to find she is one of the very few American printmakers whose works are in increasing demand by knowledgeable collectors.

In 1976, the Brooklyn Museum mounted a major retrospective of Grace Albee's wood-engravings.  Gene Baro, curator of the exhibition, said: "Her works are superlatively controlled...meticulously observed and rendered...Few artists can have understood this medium so well."

In 1982, the Dryden Galleries of Providence, R.I. offered a major show of her works, just three years before her death in 1985.  In September of 1999, the National Museum of Women in the Arts held a three day reception and exhibition of her works in Washington, D.C.

Grace Albee's works are in many public collections, and private collections include the King Vittorio Emanuele of Italy, and King Gustavus VI of Sweden.

Additional note from Keith Albee:

She did a number of still-lifes in oil [I'm lucky to have a few], and only one portrait that I know of; myself as a child with my dog.  I seem to remember some landscapes she did in watercolors too, but unfortunately, I don't have any in my collection. But I am lucky enough to have her paint box and brushes.

She also made what has traditionally been called in our family the "Christmas Village".  Beautifully detailed miniature houses, farms, churches and the like made from scraps of matte [sp?] material, [she matted her own prints], wood, old wooden collar buttons, etc.  In the truest New England spirit - the woman wasted nothing! Most of the family has a few pieces, but I have by far the largest "village", complete with trees, stone walls, fire house, hospital, and a fort with "butcher skewer" walls. My favorite piece is a small two story house with a roof that opens on one side to show the inside of a bedroom with beds complete with spreads, two fireplaces with
gold leaf "fires" in each and a hand inked oriental carpet.

I am very proud of her. I spent a lot of time in her studio in our house, and she was a large part of my life as a child.  My grandfather, Percy, on the other hand died a few years before I was born.

The following is from Unveiled: a directory and guide to 19th century born artists active in Rhode Island, and where to find their work in publicly accessible Rhode Island collections by Elinor L. Nacheman

Grace Thurston Arnold Albee is in the following collections in Rhode Island:
David Winton Bell Gallery:
(note: Access restricted, appointment required)
1. Wood engraving on China paper, "The Guardian of the Border" (1929)
2. Wood engraving on China paper, "Oxen Returning" (1929)

Newport Art Museum:
(note: Access restricted, appointment required)
1. Wood engraving, "Duc de la Rochefaucald" (ca. 1920-30) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)
2. Wood engraving, "Bretton Types" (ca. 1920-30) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)
3. Wood engraving, "L'Esacarence, Southern France" (1929) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)
4. Wood engraving, "Guardians of the Border" (ca. 1920-30) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)
5. Wood engraving, "Collector's Item" (1945) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)
6. Wood engraving, "Down by the Old Willow" (ca. 1920-30) (new acquisition, not yet acc.)

Providence Art Club:
(note: Access restricted, appointment required)
1. Wood engraving, "Junked" (1940 or '49)
2. Wood engraving, "Christmas card" (1971)
3. Wood engraving, "Christmas card" (1970-71)
4. Wood engraving, "Christmas card" (1975)--same as 1971
5. Wood engraving, "Christmas card" (1976)--same as 1970-71
6. Wood engraving, "Brown Pelicans" (1968)
7. Wood engraving, "My Amaryllis" (1978)
8. Pencil drawing, "Second Baptist Church" (1949) plus pencil sketch on tracing paper and original woodblock for this image
9. Wood engraving, "Francois VI" (frontispiece for a book by F.B Wilcox, 1947)

Rhode Island School of Design:
(note: Access restricted, appointment required)
1. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034)
2. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.1)
3. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.2)
4. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.3)
5. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.4)
6. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.5)
7. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.6)
8. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.7)
9. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.8)
10. Wood engraving [untitled] (1929) (acc.# 55.034.9)
11. Wood engraving "A Peaceful Afternoon" (access.# 84.198.267)
12. Wood engraving "A Peaceful Afternoon" (acc.# 60.085.1)
13. Wood engraving, "Chimney-Pots" (acc.# 52.136)
14. Wood engraving, "Contents of a Small Boy's Pocket" (acc.# 52.140)
15. Wood engraving, "Co-operative Farm--Bucks County" (acc.# 52.042)
16. Wood engraving, "Co-operative Farm--Bucks County" (acc.# 50.057)
17. Wood engraving, "Co-Operative Farm" (acc.# 2006.155)
18. Wood engraving, "Co-operative Farm--Bucks County" (acc.# 84.198.899)
19. Wood engraving, "Cyclamen" (1932) (acc.# 34.014)
20. Wood engraving, "Demonstration Block--New York World's Fair (1940) (acc.# 52.141)
21. Wood engraving, "Dinan" (acc.# 52.129)
22. Wood engraving, "Dinan" (1921) (acc.# 60.085.2)
23. Wood engraving, "Douarnenez" (1931) (acc.# 34.013)
24. Wood engraving, "Douarnenez" (1931) (acc.# 52.143)
25. Wood engraving, "Field Daisies" (acc.# 52.132)
26. Wood engraving, "Forgotten Things"(acc.# 52.041)
27. Wood engraving, "The Gateway"  (ca. 20th c.) (acc.# 52.144)
28. Graphite/chalk, "Gossipy Brettons" (acc.# 1992.073.6)
29. Wood engraving, "Gossipy Brettons" (1977) (acc.# 1992.073.1)
30. Wood engraving, "Gossipy Brettons" (1977) (acc.# 1992.073.2)
31. Wood engraving, "Gossipy Brettons" (1977) (acc.# 1992.073.3)
32. Pencil drawing, "Gossipy Brettons" (1977) (acc.# 1992.073.5)
33. Wood engraving, "Gossipy Brettons" (ca.1977) (acc.# 1992.073.4)
34. Wood engraving, "Housing Problem" (acc.# 52.142)
35. Wood engraving, "Housing Problem" (acc.# 2006.157)
36. Wood engraving, "Junked" (acc.# 52.145)
37. Wood engraving, "Main Street, Hawley, PA." (acc.# 52.131)
38. Wood engraving, "Manhattan Backwash" (acc.# 52.130)
39. Wood engraving, "Oxen Returning" (1929) (acc.# 34.015)
40. Wood engraving, "Paris Court--Campagne Premiere" (acc.# 52.137)
41. Wood engraving, "A Peaceful Afternoon" (ca. 20th c.) (acc.# 60.085.1)
42. Wood engraving, " A Peaceful Afternoon" (1943) (acc.# 84.198.267)
43. Wood engraving, "Pennsylvania Farm" (acc.# 52.146)
44. Color wood engraving, "Portrait of John" (acc.# 52.135)
45. Wood engraving, "Rose" (acc.# 52.133)
46. Wood engraving, "Shoemaker's Shop, Paris" (1932) (acc.# 52.139)
47. Wood engraving, "St. Paul's Chapel, New York" (acc.# 52.138)
48. Wood engraving, "Ville de la Colistad" (1929) (acc.# 60.085.3)
49. Wood engraving, "Ville de la Colistad" (1929) (acc.# 55.034-6)
50. Wood engraving, "Willows at Straitsmouth" (1927) (acc.# 28.069)
51. Wood engraving, "Wolfrains--Eschenbach" (Germany) (acc.# 52.134)

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