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 Angela McDonnell  (1877 - 1941)

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Lived/Active: Texas/New York      Known for: landscape easel and mural painting

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Angela MacDonnell is primarily known as Angela McDonnell

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is provided by Claire McDonnell.

I am related to the artist M. Angela McDonnell/ MacDonnell. I have been trying to get information on her for some time now, and was glad to see the biography.

I can add a few details, if you are interested. She was born about 1875 in Galveston, the daughter of Francis (Frank) McDonnell and Mary Ann O'Brien.  Her father died in 1875 or 1876. I could never find the exact date. She had a sister Mary, who died at age 16 (1886). Her brother Francis, was an architect, who worked in New Orleans from 1900 to his death in 1929. He married, but I found no children. Her second brother, Sylvester J. McDonnell, who married and had children, lived in Chicago for a while and settled in Houston. 

Her paternal grandparents were Bernard McDonnell, of Clonegall, County Carlow, Ireland and his wife, Winifred McWeeny.  Her mother, Mary O'Brien McDonnell and the 4 kids were living with Bernard in the 1880 census, where Angela's age is given as 4. Bernard ran the Palmetto House Hotel in Galveston and was grooming son Frank to take over. Unfortunately, Bernard outlived his son.

Her maternal grandparents, Dennis O'Brien and Mary Fenlon were from Tullow, County Carlow and lived in Massachusetts before settling in New Orleans. Her grandfather McDonnell had siblings who lived in Chicago and New Orleans, so it seems she had family in many of the places she studied or worked.

When she was 15, she studied at the Metropolitan Museum school of art in New York. She also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, with John W Vanderpoel and Frederick Freer. In 1930, she went to Spain to study and work for about 2 years. Throughout her life, she worked in Galveston, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, eventually moving to New York.

I was wondering if the contributor had an obituary or exact date of death for Angela. I have an article from Houston saying she had an exhibit in 1949.  Her life span would be more like 1875-1950

Some details can be found in Texas Painters, Sculptors and Graphic Artists in Texas before 1942 by John and Deborah Powers


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Miss Angela McDonnell (1877-1941)

Also known as Angela MacDonnell, she was a Galveston-born artist whose work was frequently shown with other noted Galveston artists such as Boyer Gonzales, Sr., and Paul Schumann.  Her brother, Frances MacDonnell practiced architecture in New Orleans following an apprenticeship with Nicholas Clayton.  Although this brother, Francis, sometimes spelled the name MacDonnell, she stuck to the McDonnell spelling. And to make matters seem even more confusing, Angela’s sister-in-law, Francis MacDonnell’s wife, was also name Mary.

In the early 1900s, she traveled to Spain and settled for a while in Barcelona. She was back in Galveston by 1907 when she took out an ad in the paper announcing art lessons in her studio in the Levy Building. 

The most famous of her works, which is still visible today, is the mural in the north gallery of the Julia Ideson Building at the Houston Public Library.  Painted in 1934 as part of a WPA project, the mural depicts Texas’ history as a Spanish colony.  In 1924 she designed a letterhead for the City of Galveston that was used for some years before being replaced.

After her father’s death sometime prior to 1905, Angela lived with her mother, Mary McDonnell until her mother’s death in 1928.  There are some indications that Angela may have traveled some during that period, but most of that time they lived in Galveston except for 1926 when they lived in Houston. In 1932, Angela lived in Barcelona, but I don’t know when she arrived there or when she left.

She spent some time in Chicago and New York and died at the age of 64 in Manhattan.

Written and provided by Pat Jakobi, Jakobi Photography

Addendum:
I have found out that there was a Mary Angela McDonnell in New York at the same time that Angela McDonnell was there. Mary Angela was a socialite and you have to be careful not to confuse the two.  Every once in a while I find Angela as M. Angela, but there is no legal verification that she was not just plain Angela.
 
 


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