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 Cornelia Cowles Vetter  (1881 - 1959)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut      Known for: still life, etching

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Cornelia Cowles is primarily known as Cornelia Cowles Vetter

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Connecticut Hills
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted in July of 2006  by  Jim Kieley, a  private researcher from Woodbury, Connecticut:

Cornelia Cowls Vetter was born in Hartford Connecticut in 1881.  Early in her life she showed an aptitude for the arts, and created a portfolio of samples of her works.

Around the turn of the century she completed her general studies, and began looking for an art school.  At that time, successful woman painters were not unknown in America but  art schools were dominated by males, and the majority of  women were destined to find insurmountable obstacles when entering most institutions.  It was common to hold  separate classes for men and women, and Victorian prudishness was prevalent especially in life classes.  Thomas Eatkins, for example, was dismissed from The Pennsylvania Academy for undraping the model during a lecture where female students were present.

Cornelia was accepted at The Pratt School of Art in Brooklyn.  The school emphasized discipline, dedication and craftsmanship.  Most courses of study at Pratt were based on the methods used in the European Academies.  It was not unusual, therefore, to spend long grueling hours drawing from static casts. The student could observe the effects of light and shade on the static objects. The study of perspective and anatomy was approached in a somewhat scientific manner at a later time, and when the students had achieved some proficiency in these disciplines, they were advanced to the life class.

Cornelia Vetter continued her training at  The Art Student League, and was fortunate to study with two of the most prominent instructors, Robert Henri and William M. Chase.  Henri encouraged her to think creatively and to paint in a free, unrestricted manner, while Chase further inspired her toward self-expression in her painting.

Already quite accomplished in her painting, Vetter became known for etching, as well. She then traveled to Spain, where she studied with A. Camarasa, and to Paris, France.

She returned home around 1919 and continued painting and etching.  She exhibited in juried competitions and often won awards for her work in Springfield Massachusetts, New York City, Hartford and New Haven Connecticut.

She was a member of numerous arts organizations, with most of her affiliations based in the Connecticut area, among them the Connecticut Fine Arts Academy.  She was  awarded a prize from the New Haven Paint and Clay Club in 1930, and was associated with the Federal Arts easel painting program from 1933 to 1936.  A work entitled  "A Connecticut Road" ( oil on board  16x20)  bears the label: Federal Arts  Easel Painting, title, and name of the artist with date.  A brass plack designates the work as done for the Federal Art Project.

Her European experience helped formulate her style and technique, combining Tonalism with  Impressionism. 

Vetter was well know in her community, and died in 1959.


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