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 Helen E. Coan  (1859 - 1938)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: street-landscape, still life

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Ad Code: 4
Helen E Coan
An example of work by Helen E. Coan
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Helen E. Coan was born on December 20, 1859 in Byron, New York. Coan grew up in Michigan. In 1883-1884 she studied at the Art Students League under William M. Chase and Frederick Freer.

In 1887 Helen Coan moved to Los Angeles, California and continued her painting. The artists career began with paintings of flowers and fruit though by 1893 she was also painting missions and landscapes of California views. Some of her titles include "Desert Flowers", "Spring at Capistrano" and "Young Sycamore in Spring".

Coan exhibited at the California Building, Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago; California State Fair, Sacramento; the San Francisco Art Association; Painters and Sculptors of Southern California, Los Angeles; Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle; and the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego.

During her career, Helen Coan also worked as an illustrator and authored and illustrated a collection of fairy tales titled, "The Land of Surprise". She also taught private art lessons. Helen E. Coan died October 14, 1938 in Los Angeles, California.

Credits: "An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West" by Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Byron, NY on Dec. 20, 1859. Coan grew up in Michigan. She studied with Frederick Freer and William M. Chase at the ASL in NYC and later with Arthur W. Dow. After settling in Los Angeles in 1884, she taught at the ASL and in 1910 opened an art school in the YWCA. She lived in Los Angeles except for brief periods in Seattle (1891) and San Francisco (1904-05). Working in oil and watercolor, her subjects include floral and fruit still lifes, Chinese and Mexican genre, crumbling missions and adobes, and other romantic depictions of the California scene. Due to arthritis, she did not paint after 1926. A spinster, Coan died in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 1938. Member: LA AA; Calif. Art Club. Exh: Calif. State Fair, 1889-1900; Byrson Bldg (LA), 1891; World's Columbian Expo (Chicago), 1893; Chamber of Commerce (LA), 1894; Society of Fine Arts (LA), 1895; Ruskin Art Club (LA), 1904; Kanst Gallery (LA), 1908; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909 (medal); Calif. Pacific Expo (San Diego), 1915 (medal); Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1920. In: LA County Museum of Natural History (Wolfskill Adobe); D.A.R., Washington, DC (Capistrano Mission).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
City Directory; Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); American Art Annual 1898-1933; California State Library (Sacramento); Graphic, 2-3-1906; Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); California Arts and Architecture list, 1932; Who's Who in American Art 1940; Women Artists in America (Collins & Opitz); Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Women Artists of the American West; Los Angeles Times, 10-16-1938 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Helen Coan is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
Taos Pre 1940

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