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 Anna E. Reid Hall  (1857 - 1928)

About: Anna E. Reid Hall


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Lived/Active: Nebraska      Known for: fruit still life and figure painting, art patronage

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A lifetime Nebraskan, Anna Reid Hall was an artist and pioneering art collector, who made a lasting contribution to the arts of her home state.  She was born and lived on a farm near the small town of Julian, and spent most of her life in the capital city of Lincoln. 

As a young woman married to Lincoln attorney, Frank Hall, Anna Hall, was asked by a University of Nebraska representative to organize a group of women students for Sarah Wool Moore, who had been hired to teach art at the University but whose salary was not yet forthcoming.  It was hoped that the fees for Hall's class would pay Moore's salary until the University could take over.  Apparently the plan worked as Moore stayed at the University and Hall got a group together, using the incentive that these 'students' could create artwork for Lincoln homes.  However, Hall wanted more than that as she wanted to learn to draw and paint in a serious way and spent the next four years studying with Moore. Of special interest to her were still life subjects.

With Hall's growing knowledge from the art lessons and her husband's shared interest in the subject, they began collecting original artwork, starting with the purchase of watercolors from door-to-door salespersons.  When having her acquisitions framed, she learned that sometimes she was 'duped', that is sold copies rather than originals as claimed. She also realized that having her husband present when she made a purchase decision was wise because together they made better judgments. 

Of their collecting methods, Anna Hall said they bought directly from the artists, and relied on the artists' selections of their best work rather than their own preferences or the judgment of dealers.  She concluded that "This sort of contact with artists is most inspiring to those interested in art. The information you get is first hand information." One of the more prestigious acquisitions resulting from their efforts was the bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln they commissioned in 1909 from Daniel Chester French.  Dedicated in 1912, the near life-size statue is placed at the western entrance of the Nebraska State Capital.

Their collection, left as The Anna and Frank Hall Collection to the University of Nebraska, became the initial artwork for the University's museum, now Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln. 

Frank Hall died on June 9, 1928, and Anna Hall continued to live in their home.  But a few months later, November 22, she had a fatal heart attack.  Of her and her husband's place in Nebraska's culture, it is written: "Their story---and their generosity of time, talent and spirit---are a lesson to each of us." (20)

Stuart Embury, Jorge Daniel Veneciana, et all, A Legacy of Giving: The Anna and Frank Hall Collection

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