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 Alice Schille  (1869 - 1955)

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Lived/Active: Ohio/New Mexico      Known for: modernist town-sea-landscape and portrait painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter in watercolor and oil, Alice Schille was a prolific artist using modernist styles of Post-Impressionism, Pointillism and Fauvism.  Her subjects included portraits of women and children, landscapes with and without figures, a series of scenes of New York City. New Mexico, and Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Her  paintings also reflected her widespread international travels in Europe, North Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Although personally very shy, Schille possessed unusual courage and strength of will, which was reflected in both her independent lifestyle and in her work, as she continually worked to master new modes of painting throughout her career.  A German critic once referred to Schille as "this daredevil disciple of art who is interested in anything and afraid of nothing."

Alice Schille was born in Columbus, Ohio to a family supported by her father's success in manufacturing.  She was raised in Columbus, and by the time she was age six, she determined to be an artist.  She graduated at the top of her class from Central High School in 1887, studied from 1891 to 1893 at the Columbus Art School, and returned there as a teacher from 1902 to 1948.

Going to New York City as a young woman, she enrolled in the Art Students League from 1897 to 1899 and then the New York School of Art with William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox.  (Some years later, she attended Chase's Shinnecock Summer School on Long Island).  From 1903 to 1904, Alice Schille was in Paris at the Academie Colarosi, and also studied privately with Raphael Collin, Rene Prinet, Gustave Courtois and Chase, who was then in Europe.

In 1904, five of her paintings were accepted for exhibition at Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts, and from that time on her work was included regularly in important American annual exhibitions including the Pennsylvania Academy, the Corcoran Gallery, American Watercolor Society, Boston Art Club, and the 1987 inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC.

Between 1905 and 1914, Alice Schille painted in Europe, and during the summers of 1916 to 1918, worked in New York and Gloucester.  In 1919, she was in New Mexico.   On this trip, her first to the Southwest, she spent a summer in Taos and Santa Fe and painted scenes including the Taos Pueblo, Canyon Road and local Hispanic and Indian figures.  Reportedly the Ranchos de Taos Church was one of her favorite subjects.  Many of these New Mexico paintings were hung at annual exhibitions of the Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Between 1920 and 1940, she traveled frequently in the summers, returning to New Mexico and going to Central America and Africa.  In 1922, she began her first series of North-African watercolors, and then returned in 1929.  Much of her Central American travel was in the 1930s and 1940s.

Schille has received numerous awards and honors from throughout the United States.  In 1988, her work was the subject of a traveling museum retrospective exhibition organized by Keny Galleries in association with the Columbus Museum of Art. 

Sources:
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West"
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Keny Galleries, Columbus, Ohio

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
Alice Schille was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1869, the third of six children. Her father was a soft drink manufacturer, and she enjoyed a relatively privileged upbringing. Unlike many artists, Schille was not constrained by financial matters. With her family's support, she was able to receive an advanced artistic education and to travel the world extensively.

After high school, Schille attended the Columbus Art School from 1891-1893. She advanced quickly, and soon began teaching courses herself. Schille later attended the Art Students League in New York City and the New York School of Art, where she studied under the renowned artist William Merritt Chase. Chase invited Schille to study at his Shinnecock Summer School of Art; it was the first outdoor major outdoor art school in America, and considered the foremost school of its kind in the nation. Schille then visited Europe where she spent several years travelling between many art centers. She spent this time studying the best of continental art and painting the many beautiful locations she discovered.

In 1900, Schille began to exhibit her works in a number of significant shows. Upon her return to the U.S. in 1904, Schille's work was shown at the Institute of Chicago. She again taught at the Columbus Art School, where she remained until 1928. During this time, her work was shown throughout the country. She continued her travels to such places as New Mexico, France, North Africa, Turkey, Mexico, and Guatemala during her summer breaks.

Schille is know as a watercolorist, but she also worked in oils. In oil, she typically painted portraits of women and children. In watercolor, she presents everyday life in brilliant, playful color. She followed the fin de siècle tradition of depicting the ordinary, but she did not restrict her subject matter to the activities of the leisure class as many of her contemporaries did. Her work is invariably and notably confident and unsentimental, demonstrating her mastery of the temperamental watercolor medium. She is considered one of the finest watercolorist in the United States.

Alice Schille's works appear in the permanent collections of the Art Club of Philadelphia, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Ohio State University, the Colby College Art Museum, the El Paso Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. She received awards from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, in which she won the gold medal.

Source: Roberts, Norma J., ed. Lyrical Colorist Alice Schille 1869 - 1955. Columbus, Ohio: Keny and Johnson Gallery, 1968.

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Alice Schille is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Taos Pre 1940
Women Artists

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