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 Grace Hall Hemingway  (1872 - 1951)

About: Grace Hall Hemingway
 

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Massachusetts      Known for: landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
Grace Hall Hemingway
from Auction House Records.
Hollyhocks
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
INTRODUCTION

GRACE HALL HEMINGWAY (1872-1951) was an accomplished concert singer and voice teacher, and late in life also a proficient painter. However, many would say her primary claim to fame is as the mother of the celebrated writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Grace was a pivotal person in Ernest's life, because, as author Bernice Kert observed, "he was so much like her in creative, driven to excel...." (11). Grace's artistic pursuits, and her belief that creativity plays an important role in people's lives, clearly influenced her son Ernest, and his five siblings, all of whom excelled in the creative arts. As Ernest's sister Madelaine later recalled, their mother was "the buoyant, creative one in the family, much like Ernie" (cited in Kert 37).

It was not until 1924, when Grace was fifty-two, that she decided to take up painting. (Her mother Caroline Hancock was also an artist.) She took classes in Oak Park, Illinois, and at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she learned by copying paintings in the collection. She also studied with artist Pauline Palmer (1867-1938), and with such renowned Chicago painters as Leon Kroll (1884-1974) and Karl Buehr (active 1900-1935). Later she took classes at the Florida Art School, and Bay View Summer Art School in Michigan.(2) She transformed the large music room in her Oak Park home into a studio, where she primarily worked in the oil medium, and signed her paintings "Hall Hemingway."(3) Painting soon became an all-consuming passion for Grace, and eventually enabled her to partially support herself, especially after her husband's death in December 1928. She would receive wide recognition during her lifetime for her talent as an artist: she exhibited her work in more than thirty solo shows, was invited to exhibit her work at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, and served as director of the Oak Park and River Forest Art League for six years.(4)

As Grace's painting career gained her accolades, she shared her achievements with her son, Ernest. In 1927 she wrote a letter to him in Paris, asking him to investigate the art scene there, and to send her some art catalogues. She also wrote proudly: "Did I tell you I had been voted into the Chicago Society of Artists. I am also a member of the `All Illinois' and the Modernist group ... The teachers at the Art Institute say I have instinctive design" (cited in Reynolds 104-5). Grace was doing well indeed: she was selling some of her works for as much as $200, and in 1927 she was included in the prestigious "Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity," at the Art Institute of Chicago.(5)

In 1928 Grace traveled to the Southwest with her brother Leicester, who drove her into the desert to paint scenes of the landscape. Nine years later, in August of 1937, she gave a lecture on Nantucket Island entitled "Travel and Painting in the Great Southwest" for an informal club called "The Neighbors." She illustrated her talk with her paintings from 1928, and at the end she shared with the audience her philosophy about talent and creative work. "The only thing in life that gives real happiness is creative work, because that is partnership with The Great Creator.... The happiest people I know, (and most of them live on the borderline of poverty) are the people doing creative work." She also told her listeners "Talent is just loving a thing enough to work at it.... We all have some of the creative ability and if we refuse to give it an outlet, we live an aborted life" ("Travel and Painting"). It is easy to imagine Grace imparting this same advice to her own children, when they were growing up in suburban Chicago.

Sources:
Tales of Old Nantucket, www.thefreelibrary.com/Tales+of+old+Nantucket%3A+Grace+Hall+Hemingway.-a054868523

www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Grace-Hall-Hemingway-Original-Desert-Landscape-Painting-Original-Frame-/230950009356?pt=Art_Paintings&hash=item35c5b17a0c


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