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 Grace Ravlin  (1873 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois / France      Known for: landscape, genre and Indian life painting

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Grace Ravlin
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Grace Ravlin was born in Kaneville, Illinois in 1873. Ravlin studied at the Art Institute in Chicago and with William Merritt Chase at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts*. She traveled abroad for the first time in 1906 and, before the outbreak of World War I, made frequent trips through France, Belgium, Spain, Tunis, and Morocco. She remained devoted to the European continent and North Africa as landscape subjects throughout her subsequent career. In Paris, her preferred residence, Ravlin had sought out painter Simon-Menard Cour for individual training, exhibited with the Peintres Orientalists Francais, and became an associate of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and was a member of Salon d'Automne*.

She also achieved gratifying recognition of her abilities from the French art press, which was impressed by her inclusion in select salon exhibitions. Ravlin became personally engaged in New York City's Red Cross Corps. She signed on for nurse's-aide training and was issued orders in December 1918 to proceed to Paris for dispatch to a Red Cross canteen assisting troops returning home after the armistice. Her life after the war remained international in orientation, although she devoted greater lengths of time to painting in the United States, particularly near Cape Ann, Massachusetts and the Southwest where she had first arrived in 1916 and became known for her impressionistic studies of Native American ceremonials.

In 1921 Ravlin returned to Manhattan, intermittently painting New York City scenes until she left for Mexico City in 1925. Critics often compared the results to modern French Post-Impressionist landscapes, praising her "sprightly eye," fresh use of color, and expressive, fluid brushwork. "Were it not for certain familiar landmarks, we might think some of her New York street scenes French parks or boulevards," observed the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which also remarked on the artist's "absorption" of the "dry, staccato touch which is frequently used in France."

She was also known for landscapes, genre, mountains, Arabs, Indians and flowers.  In January 1924 a selection of her cityscapes was featured at the MacBeth Galleries* together with recent paintings by the artist Robert Henri. This aesthetic pairing worked to Ravlin's disadvantage, but a consensus prevailed that her compositions had a notable tempo, and that her manipulation of viewpoint and liberties of palette were pleasing, if not entirely innovative. One painting dated 1922, representing a military parade at the junction of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue drew favorable comments about Ravlin's "flair for processions" and her ability to re-create their sense of stirring movement and color.

She died in Plano, Illinois in 1956 at the Wesley Rest Home.

Blake Benton Fine Art

*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Alta Ann Parkins Morris, Great Niece of the Artist, and Researcher, January 2004.

Grace Ravlin was my great aunt, a sister of my maternal grandfather. My mother was very close to her, was with her when she died, and corresponded with her extensively on family topics. Throughout my young life we met with her in the places where she was painting, New England, Washington, DC and Virginia, and she often stayed with us when she was doing a series of Pittsburgh watercolors. It is true that she stopped painting in oil, as Brian Ravlin states, but a time came when she could no longer carry around all the heavy material needed for oil painting, and she switched to watercolor.

Quite a few of Grace Ravlin's family members have had careers or avocations in the arts. After graduating from college I completed the five year course in painting at The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I feel that my mother's friendship with Grace Ravlin played a part in that.

For several years I have been researching Ravlin's study and painting here and abroad. At least eight of her paintings were bought by The French Government when she was painting in Europe and North Africa. I have not tracked them down, although I have some of her titles and general description of the subject matter; probably they were sent to provincial museums. I was able to see one which had been purchased for The Luxembourg and was part of the collection of the "Pompidou" and in storage when I saw it in 1985. It depicts Moroccan women on their way to the cemetery.

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Grace Ravlin is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Taos Pre 1940

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