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 Edith Mitchill Prellwitz  (1864 - 1944)

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Lived/Active: New York/New Hampshire/New Jersey/Rhode Island      Known for: figure, landscape and still life painting

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Ad Code: 3
Edith Mitchill Prellwitz
from Auction House Records.
Off Jessup's" (Long Island)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in South Orange, New Jersey, Edith Mitchill Prellwitz earned a reputation as a skilled artist who continued her career after she married artist Henry Prellwitz at a time when women were expected to submerge their careers to their husband's.  The couple shared joint exhibitions including at the Charcoal Club in Baltimore, 1899; and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Prellwitz was born in 1864, a year verified by her diary, although 1865 is the year traditionally given for her birth.

Her first trip to Europe had been in 1882 when she studied informally in Germany, Italy, Paris, and London.  Firmed in her resolve to become an artist, in 1883, Edith wrote in her diary, "I am a woman of 'aspiration,' with strong intentions to become an artist, a great artist."

She studied at the Art Students League from 1883 to 1889 with George de Forest Brush and Kenyon Cox; and in Paris, 1889-90, at the Academie Julian with Bouguereau, Robert-Fleury and Coutois. 

In 1888, she began a short apprenticeship at Tiffany Glass Company and that same year was elected vice president of the Art Students League.  She was one of the organizers of the Woman's Art Club of New York, which became the National Association of Women Artists.  She met Henry Prellwitz who had a studio across the hallway from hers in the Holbein Building, and they were married in 1894.  The couple had a son, Edwin Mitchill Prellwitz, born 1896.

That same year from the National Academy of Design she earned the Second Hallgarten Prize, and the next year received the Norman W. Dodge Prize with a cash award of $250.  The couple used this prize money to build a summer cottage in Cornish, New Hampshire.  There they spent several happy summers in the artist colony with friends including Thomas and Maria Dewing, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles Platt. Although known for her paintings of children, while in Cornish Edith painted local landscape scenes including Saint-Gaudens's Garden and Summer.  In 1898 the Prellwitz home in Cornish was struck by lightning, and although the home survived Edith and Henry never returned to Cornish. In 2005-2006, the Cornish Colony Museum in Windsor, Vermont provided one of the venues for the Spanierman Gallery exhibition: Painters of Peconic: Edith and Henry Prellwitz.

In 1906, she was elected to the National Academy of Design, and in 1929, the Academy awarded her the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize.  She was a strong advocate for women in the arts, and she used her position on the Board of Control of the Art Students League to strengthen the role of women in the League. 

In 1899, Edith and Henry Prellwitz became members of an art colony in Peconic, a village on the North Fork of Long Island, and lived there until their deaths, becoming full-time residents in 1913.  In 1914, Edith traveled to California with her son Edwin.

Credits:
Footprints of the Past by Virginia Reed Colby and James B. Atkinson
Painters of Peconic: Edith Prellwitz & Henry Prellwitz with essays by Ronald Pisano and William Gerdts


Biography from Spanierman Gallery:
Among the talented women artists who rose to prominence during the late nineteenth century, Edith Prellwitz enjoyed a long and successful career as a painter, winning many awards and honors for her figure subjects and landscapes.

Born Edith Mitchill in South Orange, New Jersey, the artist was the daughter of Cornelius S. Mitchill, a successful businessman and his wife, Helen Reed Mitchill. Growing up in an affluent and cultured household, she was well versed in French and German and was a regular visitor to concerts and operas. At the age of eighteen she made her first trip to Europe, studying art informally in Germany, Italy, Paris, and London.

Upon returning home, Edith Prellwitz enrolled at the Art Students League of New York. Between 1883 and 1889, she received instruction from such noted figure painters as George de Forest Brush, William Merritt Chase, Walter Shirlaw, and Kenyon Cox. In March of 1888, the year she was elected women's vice-president at the League, she began an apprenticeship at the Tiffany Glass Company in New York. However, the urge to become a painter was stronger; that December she left the Tiffany firm to concentrate exclusively on fine art.

While pursuing her goal of becoming a professional painter, Edith Prellwitz emerged as an early arts advocate for women. Indeed, in 1888, she was elected women's vice-president at the Art Students League. The following year, she and a group of fellow painters--Grace Fitz-Randolph, Adele Frances Bedell, Anita C. Ashley, and Elizabeth S. Cheever--banded together to form the Woman's Club Art, organized to promote the work of women artists in the United States. The group, which Prellwitz felt could be "productive of something good," later evolved into the National Association of Women Artists.

In 1889 Edith Prellwitz went to Paris, refining her skills as a figure painter at the Académie Julian under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. During her eighteen months in the French capital, she also received criticism from the painter Gustave Courtois, possibly at the Académie Colarossi.

Returning to New York in 1891, Edith established a studio, first at 49 West 22nd Street and later in the Holbein Studio Building at 152 West 55th Street, where she renewed her contact with Henry Prellwitz, whom she had met earlier at the Art Students League. They were subsequently married in October of 1894. A year later, using the $250 cash award Edith received upon winning the Norman W. Dodge Prize at the National Academy of Design, the couple built a small cottage known as "Prellwitz's Shanty" in Cornish, New Hampshire, a favorite summer haunt for artists, writers and musicians. During her trips to Cornish, Edith painted intimate, impressionist-inspired landscapes, including a view of the garden of the famous Beaux-Arts sculptor Augustus-Saint-Gaudens (ca. 1896; Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire).

When their Cornish residence was destroyed by fire in 1898, Edith and Henry began spending their summers in Peconic, Long Island, joining a coterie of fellow artists that included their good friends Irving Wiles and Edward August Bell. In 1911, they acquired an early nineteenth century house on Peconic Bay which became their year-round residence three years later.

Peconic remained Prellwitz's home base until 1928, when she and Henry moved into a cooperative apartment on East 41st Street in Manhattan. There, Edith painted views of the skyscrapers outside her studio window. In 1938, the Prellwitz's returned permanently to Peconic.

Edith Prellwitz exhibited her work--portraits of women and children, allegorical figure pieces, and landscapes--in the major national annuals from the late 1880s until the late 1930s. She was the recipient of many distinguished awards including the National Academy of Design's second Hallgarten Prize (1894) and the Julia A. Shaw Prize (1929). She also received a silver medal at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta (1895) and a bronze medal at the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo, New York in 1901. In 1899, she had joint exhibitions with her husband at the Charcoal Club in Baltimore and at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Prellwitz was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1906. She also belonged to the Society of American Artists and the New York Water Color Club. In addition to producing easel paintings and watercolors, she created a major mural for the Universalist Church in Southold, New York in 1926. She was also the author of "Tempest in Paint Pots," an article which appeared in American Magazine of Art.

Edith Prellwitz died on August 19 in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Examples of her work can be found at the National Academy of Design in New York and elsewhere. In 1995, the Museums of Stony Brook, New York organized a major exhibition focusing on Edith and Henry Prellwitz and their association with the Peconic art colony.

CL

©The essay herein is the property of Spanierman Gallery LLC and is copyrighted by Spanierman Gallery LLC and may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without written permission from Spanierman Gallery LLC nor shown or communicated to anyone without due credit being given to Spanierman Gallery LLC.

Biography from Cornish Colony Museum:
Born in Peconic, NY.  She studied at the Arts Students League under some of the Cornish Colony artists such as George de Forest Brush and Kenyon Cox.  She also was one of the lucky early women who was able to study in Paris at the Academie Julien under Gustave Boulanger and Robert-Fleury Courtois.  She was a member of the Society of American Artists and an associate member of the National Academy of Design.

She exhibited in the Paris Salon where she won a prize in 1894; in the Society of American Artists (1895), the Atlanta Exposition (1895), and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, 1901.

One of her murals hangs in the Universalist Church in Southold, NY. She married artist Henry Prellwitz. Edith was a respected and well liked member of the Cornish Colony.

Her works are in the permanent collection of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Edith Prellwitz is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Cornish Colony

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