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 Mary G. Lawson Hood  (1886 - 1967)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: modernist still life, florals and landscape paintings

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Untitled (Flowers in Vase)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Mary G. L. Hood (1886-1967), a Philadelphia native, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but would ultimately reject her traditional academic training in favor of an avant-garde art. She balanced her artistic aspirations with a traditional family life and later thrived in the artist’s community of New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she created modernist still life, floral and landscape works.

Hood first attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1903-4. Notable classmates at the Academy were Daniel Garber and Arthur B. Carles. Her teachers included William Merritt Chase, Thomas Anshutz, Henry Breckenridge, Cecilia Beaux and Henry McCarter. Hood left the Academy after two semesters, and despite her determination to be an artist, left painting behind for many years to marry and raise four children. She reenrolled in 1929, but soon found its traditional academic model too confining. Hood quit her formal studies and instead took private lessons with Academy instructors Arthur B. Carles and Henry McCarter. Both men integrated their exposure to avant-garde art and ideas while living in Europe into their instruction. These lessons helped Hood to form her own modernist vision, especially through her exploration of abstraction and the expressive range of color in still life and floral subjects, as well as in landscapes and cityscapes.

In 1941, Hood and her family left Philadelphia and moved to the artists’ colony of New Hope, Pennsylvania. The divide she had experienced at the Academy was also evident in this community. The academic artists (New Hope Impressionists) led by Edward Redfield and Daniel Garber opened the Phillips Mill Community Center in 1929. In selecting the works to be exhibited they shut out the younger painters (New Hope Modernists). In turn, the modernists created the Independents Gallery in town and hung inclusive exhibitions. The scene in New Hope was well polarized by the time Hood arrived, but she seemed to easily straddle this great divide.

Although Hood did not sell her works, or exhibit them often in New Hope, this artists’ colony was a fertile field. In New Hope, a family life and an engagement with an ever-growing community of fellow Modernists could coexist and for Hood this mix allowed her to make her most important works.  These works explore the most avant-garde ideas in painting in the early 20th Century and though little known, are an important contribution to New Hope modernism. 

Selected Exhibitions:

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, Philadelphia (1939)

Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Exhibition, Philadelphia (1941)

Joint exhibition of Mary G. L. Hood and daughter Agnes Hood Miller, Philadelphia Art Alliance (1941)

Mary G. L. Hood, Pedersen Gallery, Lambertville, NJ (2003)

Mary G. L. Hood: Woman Modernist, Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA (2007)

Mary G. L. Hood: Woman Modernist, Phillips Mill Community Association, New Hope, PA (November 24-December 9, 2007.

Anne M. Lampe, Executive Director, Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA

Biography from Jim's Of Lambertville:
Mary G. Lawson was born in Philadelphia and entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1903-1904).  In 1907, Mary Lawson married Albert L. Hood, a prominent grain merchant, and the couple had four children.  Placing her art career on hold while raising their children, Hood remained relatively inactive as an artist until the late 1920s, at which time she re-enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy to further her studies under Henry McCarter.

The art scene was swirling with new ideas, and Hood was heavily inspired by former Academy teacher, avant-garde artist Arthur Carles, and his love of Modernism. Participating in private and group studies with Carles in the 1930s, Hood's subsequent work would always favor bold, brightly colored modernist interpretations of landscapes and still life subjects painted in and around the New Hope area.

In 1941, the Hood family moved permanently to New Hope purchasing the former property of renowned portrait painter, Albert Rosenthal.  This sprawling property known to locals as the Huffnagle Mansion, was also called "Springdale."  This lavish home would be host to many social gatherings, including the monthly meeting place of the New Hope Historical Society.  Its lush gardens proved to be a favorite subject for Hood's paintings.

Around 1940, she began studies in nearby Carversville with artist, Charles Ward. Shortly after, Hood had a show of her work at the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 1941. Following this exhibition, she received a flattering letter from fellow artist Fern Coppedge, which read, "Ever since I saw your beautiful show at the Art Alliance I have wished to write and tell you how much I enjoyed your pictures ... Your colors are simply gorgeous and I like your arrangements very much."

Mary Hood was a well-known and highly regarded artist during her active years, but since her death in 1967, with the exception of a solo show in New Hope in 1969, her paintings had not been seen until their rediscovery in 2003.

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