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 Bertha Evelyn Clausen Jaques  (1863 - 1941)



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Lived/Active: Illinois/California/Ohio      Known for: etcher-urban and rural views

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William Kilbourne Jaques is primarily known as Bertha Evelyn Clausen Jaques

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Bertha Jaques
An example of work by William Kilbourne Jaques
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Bertha Eveyln Clausen Jaques, born in Covington, Ohio in 1863, was of historic importance in the field of etching in the United States, as she almost single-handedly initiated the etching revival in the 20th Century. It was through the Chicago Society of Etchers, which she organized and led, that etching became a serious medium for artists, creating reasonably priced works the public might more easily acquire.

Jaques organized two Society traveling exhibitions a year, often co-sponsored by the Art Institute of Chicago, during her twenty-seven year tenure as the secretary-treasurer of the Society of Etchers. Her etchings, many of them floral and botanic subjects, along with those of the artist membership, were exhibited widely at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; University of Chicago Art Gallery, Illinois; New York Public Library, New York City; Detroit's Public Library, and Society of Arts and Crafts; Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio; University of Kentucky Museum, Lexington; City Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Massachusetts State College, Amherst; Boston Public Library, Massachusetts; Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, California; and the University of Oregon Art Museum, Eugene.

Jaques herself was essentially self-taught, aside from studying drawing for two months with Caroline Wade at the Art Institute of Chicago around 1900. She was forty years old in 1903 when she first exhibited her work, at the Art Institute. The artist had moved to Chicago in 1889, following her marriage to W.K. Jaques, a surgeon.

Around 1893, Jaques began working with the etching medium, learning as she went along from a book titled "A Treatise on Etching," by Maxime Lalannne. Obtaining a press from Milwaukee, Jaques printed the first etching ever in Chicago in 1897. In 1912, her book "Concerning Etching" was published.

On a hot night in August 1909, Bertha Jaques and three young etchers met on the roof of her home at 4316 Greenwood Avenue and worked out the organization for the Chicago Society of Etchers. Her work was entered in their first 30 exhibitions, and she served as secretary from the beginning until 1937. After that she continued to serve as mentor. It was written that although she was no dictator, "Mrs. Jaques' wishes and tastes pretty well have controlled all the shows of the society she founded." ("Chicago Daily News")

A traveler, Jaques etched landscapes, seascapes, rural and urban views of Europe, Japan and Egypt, as well as the United States, gradually expanding her technical range to include drypoint, aquatint and other techniques, moving from black and white to color. Her color aquatints were exhibited in 1930 at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Bertha Evelyn Jaques was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1929 by Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. Her prints are in three Washington, D.C. collections: the Library of Congress, National Museum of American History, and National Gallery of Art; as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; New York Public Library, New York City; and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California.

An article, 'A Leader Retires,' in "Art Digest", October 15, 1939, signaled Jaques accomplishments as she neared the end of her life. Also in 1939, a catalogue put out jointly by the Chicago Society of Etchers and the Albert Roullier Art Galleries, documented the "Exhibition of EtchingsAquatintsDrypoints and Drypoints in Color" by Bertha E. Jaques.

Some photographs and letters of Bertha Jaques may be found in the Art Archives of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in the papers of Charles W. Dahlgreen (1864-1955), Chicago painter and printmaker; as well as those of Sidney C. Woodward (1890-1963), art critic, editor and gallery director.

A recent book by Joby Patterson, "Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers," was published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press in 2002.

Bertha Jaques died in 1941. Six years before she died she was interviewed for "The Chicago Daily News". Of the interview the reporter wrote: "The most curious request I ever had from an artist in my career as reviewer was from Mrs. Jaques. . . .'I don't tell my age,' she smiled. 'But when I am gone I want you to publish it. Here it is, in confidence', and she wrote down the date of her birth---Oct. 24, 1863."

A retrospective exhibition, "An American Printmaker", was held in April and May 1982 at the Gerhard Wurzer Gallery, Houston, Texas, more than forty years after the artist's death.

Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists of the 20th Century"
C J Bulliet, 'Around the Galleries', "The Chicago Daily News", April 5, 1941. Courtesy, Sidney Hamper, President of the Vanderpoel Art Association

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Covington, OH in 1863. Jaques attended the AIC and, while a resident of Chicago, made many trips to California between 1900-20. She collaborated with Helen Hyde while she was in the Orient. Jaques was the author of Concerning Etchings (1912), Country Quest (1936), and Helen Hyde and Her Work, An Appreciation (1922). She created 461 prints between 1894-1940. Member: Calif. Society of Etchers; Calif. PM; Chicago Society of Etchers. Exh: PPIE, 1915 (bronze medal). In: AIC; NY Public Libary; Library of Congress.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); American Art Annual 1905-29; Who's Who in American Art 1936-41; Art Digest, 4-15-1941 (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.

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William Jaques is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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