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 Emma Jane Cady  (1854 - 1933)

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Lived/Active: New York/Michigan      Known for: naive still life-stencil painting

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Emma Jane Cady
An example of work by Emma Jane Cady
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Although her work was discovered in the 1930's, it was not until 1978, and the discovery of an inscribed painting, that Emma Jane Cady was correctly placed in East Chatham, New York.  Subsequently a good deal of information was unearthed about Cady.  

Her family migrated from Connecticut to Columbia County, New York, in the mid-eighteenth century.  Her father, Norman J. Cady, was a farmer, and she herself was remembered by surviving acquaintances to have loved outdoor work, though census records list her occupation as "housework."  Cady never married, and after her parents' deaths, she moved first to the home of a nephew and then, about 1920, to Grass Lake, Michigan, where she lived with her sister and her sister's family until her death in 1933.  

Emma Jane Cady was noted for her theorem* paintings.  These were created with the aid of cut stencils, and Cady's were remarkable for their technical control, balanced composition, and clarity.  She created much of her work toward the end of the 19th century when theorem painting had long passed from favor.  But her work demonstrated that the techniques could still be employed to produce an enduring result that defied the fleeting nature of popular trends.  

American Folk Art Museum, New York City, New York. 

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Historian, East Lansing, Michigan

*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

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