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 Janet Elizabeth Robson Kennedy  (1902 - 1974)



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Lived/Active: Florida/Connecticut      Known for: abstraction, portrait painting, figurine designs, children's book illustrations

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Untitled city fountain
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Janet Elizabeth Robson.

I am Janet's namesake, Janet Elizabeth Robson.  She was my father's sister, born 20 May 1902, the eldest of three children.  Her father, The Reverend George Andrew Robson, was born in London, Ontario and died March 30, 1907, Easter evening.  He was at that time rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lansing, Michigan. His cause of death was blood poisoning, incurred from a blister he got while shoveling coal into the furnace of the rectory.
My father, her only brother, was Edmund John Robson, born 13 June 1904 in Bridgepost, died 25 February 1990. Her younger sister, Faith, also born in Bridgeport in 1907, died of tuberculosis in Lansing in the mid-1950s. Her mother, Antoinette (Netty) Cornelia nee Cable, died of cancer in Lansing ca. 1917. Janet had no children, though she married a man with at least one son.
In addition to her paintings, my aunt designed a number of Christmas figurines for the Hummel Company of Coburg, Germany, designed cards for Norcross and illustrated a number of children's and Christian books.  I do wonder whether there is any catalogue of her work available (even for purchase).  She once told me she had made slides of all her paintings. I also have copies of three of the many, many books she illustrated: 

Books I have
    1.  Turkey Trot and The Black Santa by Kate Gambold Dyer,  The Platt & Munk Co., Inc. Publishers, 1942, illustrated in black, red and gray by Janet Robson (Clearly before she was married). Thirty seven unnumbered pages.

     2.  Merry Christmas Julie, written and illustrated in color by Janet Robson, Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, 1945.  Twenty eight unnumbered pages.  This book is written in verse.

     3.  A Dream of Christmas Eve, written by Anastasia Joan Kirby andI illustrated in black and red by Janet Robson, publisher and date not stated.  Twenty unnumbered pages.

I have what I believe to be a unique baby book she designed when my youngest brother (now deceased) was born in 1945, in addition to several years worth of letters to my father written in her distinctive hand. 

Residences known to me from return addresses on letters to my father, all in the days before zip codes

1958-1959:         3586 Avocado Ave, Coconut Grove, Miami, FL
Jan 1960:           141 S. Tahquitz Dr, Palm Springs, CA
Jun 1960:           17519 Castellamarre Dr, Pacific Palisades, CA
Dec 1960:           318 24th St, Santa Monica, CA
1961 - 1962:       3525 Crystalview Ct, Miami 33, FL
1963 - 1964:       1199 Park Ave, NYC 28, New York
1964 - 1966:       7 Green Lane, Silvermine, RFD 2, Norwalk, CT
1965 -1969:        c/o C.A. Kennedy, South Broce Drive, Blacksburg, VA
1971:                  1800 Terrace View, Blacksburg, VA
1971 - 1974:       Shell Point Village Nursing Pavilion, Ft. Myers, FL

In a letter she wrote my father from the Shell Point Village in 1971, she said she had been diagnosed with acute myositis, a disease of the muscles, which can cause inflammatory myopathy. With no further comment from her, I can only assume that this disease led to her eventual demise. There are other letters from that facility, the last in June 1974.  The disease usually leads to weakness in the arms and legs.  I speculate that this is the reason one of her last letters was written for her by a friend because Aunt Janet said she was unable to write.

An article from The Norwalk Hour, a Norwalk, Connecticut newspaper dated 5 March 1969 gives a good rundown on Aunt Janet's training.  Quoting the article, she was "a member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists.  She studied at Michigan State College and Kemper Hall, Kenosha, WI where she studied, taught and worked in the studio for many years.  At Chicago Art Institute and Art Students League in New York City, Mrs. Kennedy received a thorough training in basics and techniques.  She has exhibited at all the prominent galleries in this country and Canada."

An undated brochure from the Huber Gallery in Miami Beach provides a very short bio but further information on Aunt Janet's training. It says that after graduation from Kemper Hall "she remained at the school and taught as a teacher while continuing her art studies." 

At the Art Institute of Chicago she "majored in sculpture and studied with Albin Polasek." At the Art Student's League, New York, she "studied under Robert Brackman, William Zorach and Alexander Abels...(she) worked with Lauren Ford in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Sydney Solomon in Sarasota, Florida".

This brochure lists numerous places where she exhibited. It mentions a few exhibits where she won first prize.  The last exhibit date in the brochure is February 1958 so I assume that is the brochure's approximate date.

She also studied at St. Katherine, Davenport, Iowa.  In Chicago she majored in sculpture, though I am not aware that she practiced in this medium.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for her portraits of prominent persons, Janet Kennedy was a painter who lived in Miami, Florida.  She was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, and her teachers included Albin Polasek and John Norton. At the Art Students League in New York City, she studied with William Zorach, Lauren Ford and Syd Solomon.

Butler Art Institute, 1955, 1958
Sarasota National Exhibition,1955, 1957
Society Four Arts, 1957 (prize)
Sarasota Print Exhibition, 1956-1958
Southeastern Exhibition, 1955
Provincetown & Hyannis, MA, 1955
University Wisconsin. 1956, 1957
University Illinois, 1956, 1957
Huber Gallery, Miami Beach, 1957, 1958
Johnson Gallery, Chicago, 1958
McGoughan Burr Gallery, St. Louis, 1958

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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