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 Beatrice Braidwood  (1868 - 1957)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/New Jersey      Known for: mural painting, book illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Beatrice Braidwood (1868-1957)

Beatrice Braidwood was born on July 1, 1868 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where her father, Thomas W. Braidwood, was Principal of the School of Design for Women. Her mother was Anna Colladay Braidwood of Philadelphia, a graduate of the School of Design for Women who also took classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Beatrice was their second child; a daughter named Victrix, born the previous year, died at six months of age and was buried in Philadelphia. A son, Victor, was born in 1872 after the family moved to Vineland, New Jersey.

Braidwood’s father was Principal of the School of Design from 1855 to 1873. After a difference of opinion with the directors of the School he moved to Vineland, where he established the Vineland School of Art on Peach Street. Beatrice Braidwood probably studied art with her father. She later taught with him at the Vineland School. As a painter Braidwood worked in both oils and watercolors, and the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society owns a few of each, along with her portrait drawing of the entomologist Mary Treat.

Braidwood left New Jersey and moved to Chicago, probably after her parents died (her mother in 1902, her father in 1906). She attended classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1907 to 1910 and received a certificate in 1910. In 1909-10 she was a member of the life class, where her classmates included George Brandt, Margaret Hittle, Dorothy Loeb, Darius E. Myers, William E. Scott, and Gordon Stevenson. There is evidence she may also have attended day school during 1913-1914.

Nearly forty years of age at the time, Braidwood soon joined the ranks of the Art Institute’s Mural Department. In 1910 she was one of several artists hired to paint subjects on the theme “Scenes from American History” at the John M. Smyth School on West Thirteenth Street, Chicago. Her mural there was titled Joliet and Marquette, 1673, and depicted the French explorers who were sent by Governor Frontenac of New France (now Canada) to look for a route to the Pacific Ocean. The Smyth School murals were restored in 1936 by the WPA and in 1998 by the Board of Education. Braidwood’s mural was cleaned again in 2005, along with others in the building.

Between 1911 and 1916, Braidwood was one of several artists who painted murals for the assembly hall at Sherman Park Field House on West Fifty-Second Street, Chicago. The other artists included George Steinberg, Anita Parkhurst, Roy Tyrrell, Nouart Seron, Paul Sargent, and Lucille Patterson. Their theme was The New World Series.

In Chicago, Braidwood worked as an illustrator and muralist. She provided illustrations for Charles H. Sylvester’s series Journeys through Bookland. She sketched architectural illustrations for Washington Irving’s The Alhambra in 1910 (vol. 9) and figures in period costumes for Charles Dickens’ Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller in 1913 (vol. 10).

Between 1917 and 1919 Braidwood was on the Staff of Artists for The World Book: Organized Knowledge in Story and Picture, published by W.F. Quarrie and Company and Hanson-Bellows Publishing Company. In the early 1920s she also provided illustrations for Social Progress, a monthly published by The Howard-Severance Company in Chicago.

Much remains to be learned about Braidwood’s career, especially her later life. She presumably never married, as she was still using her maiden name at the age of 72 in 1940. She remained in touch with friends in Vineland, New Jersey, and was mentioned that year by Frank Ankenbrand, Jr. in his small booklet Notes on Some Artists of Vineland. Braidwood died in 1957.

Submitted by Kate Nearpass Ogden, Associate Professor of Art History, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Sources:

Information courtesy Wendy Greenhouse, Ph.D., Chicago.

Information from the Office of Records and Registration, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, courtesy Betsy Zacsek, Office of Alumni Relations.

Frank Ankenbrand, Jr., Thomas W. Braidwood, 1819-1906, in Notes on Some Artists of Vineland (Booklet, Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society, 1940), pp. 13-20.

Frank D. Andrews, Thomas W. Braidwood, born 1818, died 1906, a paper read at the annual meeting of the Vineland (NJ) Historical and Antiquarian Society, October 9, 1906. Accessed online 25 September 2012, ?http://www.archive.org/stream/thomaswbraidwood00andr/thomaswbraidwood00andr_djvu.txt

Mary Lackritz Gray, A Guide to Chicago’s Murals (The University of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 100, 156, 412, 418.

Heather Becker, Art for the People: The Rediscovery and Preservation of Progressive- and WPA-era Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943 (Chronicle Books, 2002), pp. 183, 205, 214.

Sharon G. Hoffman with Amanda M. Mott, Moore College of Art & Design (Arcadia Publishing, 2008), pp. 12-13, 73.

Charles Sheehan, “Art in parks revival to get financial boost with matching funds,” Chicago Tribune (July 13, 2005), accessed online 8 October 2012, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-07-13/news/0507130233_1_chicago-conservation-center-art-institute-first-murals

WPA/New Deal Art in Chicago Parks, website accessed 10 October 2012, http://www.wpamurals.com/chiparks.htm

Charles H. Sylvester, Journeys Through Bookland (1909, 1910, 1913), accessed online 8 October 2012 through Google Books.

Genealogical data found on Shop Kansas website, accessed online 8 October 2012, http://www.shopkansas.net/gene/html/fam/fam00391.html

Ancestry.com, accessed online 10 October 2012.


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