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 Lucy Ladd Stratton  (1834 - 1936)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/New Hampshire / Germany      Known for: botanical painting-wildflowers

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Biography from Erie Art Museum:
Born in Dalton, New Hampshire, October 23, 1834, Lucy Ladd Stratton was one of five children of Hiram and Aurelia Palmer Ladd.  Both of her parents were New England descendants of English immigrants of 1630.  She grew up in the shadows of the White Mountains, an inspiration for her life’s work.  Interested in nature and art, she took lessons from childhood.

In 1859, at the age of 25, Lucy married George W. Stratton, a wholesale importer of fine musical instruments and a composer of some merit.  For the next 30 years, the couple lived primarily in Europe, which served as his business base.  They toured the great capitals and resort areas while occasionally making trips back to the United States.

While George engaged in business, Lucy took up the brush.  Her keen love of nature found expression through paintings of wild flowers, fruits and landscapes.  She painted planted life in natural habitat and actual size with accurate colorings while also displaying a penchant for detail.  On visits to America she pursued the same passion for detailing nature through watercolor, her primary medium.  Her many locations included New England and Mid-Atlantic states, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, Colorado and California.  

Between 1860 and 1885, she is known to have completed about 1,600 works that provided a valuable reference for botanists.  These included more than 50 varieties of orchids as well as numerous species of the lily, rose and violet families.  During this time some of her best landscapes were given to the library in Swanzey, New Hampshire, a building made possible by George Stratton’s funding.

Preparing to leave Hamburg, Germany for home in 1902, her husband was stricken and died suddenly.  She then settled in the Erie, Pennsylvania area where other members of her family lived. She continued to paint even in advanced years.  

Around 1919, at age 85, she began to record the wild flowers of Erie County.  She eventually completed 225 paintings of indigenous wild flowers, fruits and berries, a collection now in the possession of the Erie Historical Museum.  She continued to paint until 1925 when a bout of pneumonia caused serious illness, although she recovered her general health in time.  

The Erie Museum scheduled the first public exhibition of Lucy Ladd Stratton’s paintings to coincide with her 100th birthday, October 23, 1934.  She remained in good health for almost two more years, dying on August 17, 1936 at age 101.

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Researcher from Lansing, Michigan

Biography excerpted from the unpublished manuscript by Dr. Kirk W. Steehler, Erie Artists – A History of Heroes.  Courtesy of the Erie Art Museum.

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