|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Bertha Corson Day Bates (1875-1968)|
Bertha Corson Day was born in Philadelphia and grew up in
Germantown. Her cousin was married to the popular artist Thomas
Hovenden, and Bertha Day posed for his painting Bringing Home the Bride.
She enrolled in the Drexel Institute art department in 1892; her
teachers included sculptor Charles Grafly and watercolorist Lydia
Austin. She became a friend of Lydia Austin and her husband
Bertha Day studied in Howard Pyle’s illustration class that began at
Drexel in the fall of 1894. After completing the four-year course
at Drexel in 1896, she decided to continue as an advanced student in
Pyle’s illustration class from 1897 through 1899. Having made
plans to go to Europe for the summer of 1898, she was unable to attend
Pyle’s first summer school at Chadds Ford. However, she did
attend the next year along with her friends Anna Whelan Betts, Ellen
Bernard Thompson, and sever other Drexel students.
Three of her decorative designs were published in the “little magazine” Chap-Book
in 1896 and 1897, and her poster design advertising Cashmere Bouquet
products won second prize in a contest sponsored by Colgate and Company
in 1897. In 1899 she was commissioned to design a billboard
announcing the National Export Exposition in Philadelphia. Her
historical illustrations appeared in several novels, including Bulwer
Lytton’s Last Days of Pompeii in 1898 and Paul Leicester Ford’s Janice Meredith in 1899. Her most important work was a series of twenty-two illustrations for the book Where the Wind Blows,
a collection of fairy tales from different countries, written by Howard
Pyle’s younger sister, Katharine, and published in 1902.
After her marriage in 1902 to Daniel Moore Bates of the Bancroft
textile firm, she did very little commercial illustration. When
they moved to Wilmington, she turned instead to designing bookplates
and program covers for the Greenroom Club, a local theatrical group.
In 1912 the Bates family moved to Lewiston, Maine, and maintained a
summer home of MacMahon Island. From 1920 to 1929 they lived in
the Philadelphia area. During those years Bertha Day Bates
occasionally painted landscapes, but most of her time was devoted to
raising her three children. In 1919, when the family moved back
to Wilmington, she became active in social and cultural activities and
a member of numerous organizations, including the Wilmington Society of
Fine Arts (now the Delaware Art Museum), the Historical Society of
Delaware, the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the
Cosmopolitan Club in Philadelphia. She died at her home
“Selborne” in 1968 at age ninety-three.
Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Historian, East Lansing, Michigan
Elzea, Rowland and Elizabeth H. Hawkes, eds. A Small School of Art: The Students of Howard Pyle. Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1980.
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