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 Caroline Melissa Nettleton Thurber  (1864 - 1950)



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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/District Of Columbia/Ohio / France      Known for: portrait painting of notables and children

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An example of work by Caroline Melissa Nettleton Thurber
Copyright Owner:  Lesley University
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following is from Peter Kostoulakos, AOA, NEAA:  Fine Art Consultant,

Caroline Nettleton Thurber (Mrs. Dexter Thurber) — professional portrait painter —was born Caroline Melissa Nettleton in Oberlin, OH in 1864.  She is listed as living at 320 Tappan Street in Brookline, MA in 1933 and 1934.  Although known for painting portraits of distinguished educators and authors, Thurber's early portraits were of children. 

She studied with Jean Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and Jean-Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845-1902) at the Académie Julian in Paris, France from 1897 to 1901. Her art education also took her to Germany, Italy, and England.  She married Dexter Thurber (1861-1928), son of Gorham Thurber and Lydia Lancaster Herbert.

Caroline Thurber was a member of two very prestigious organizations in Boston — the Copley Society and the Guild of Boston Artists (associate).  She exhibited work at the National Academy of Design, 1898; the Paris salon, 1899; the Art Institute of Chicago, 1899 to 1901; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annual, 1900 to 1902, and the Royal Academy in London at the turn of the 20th century.

Some of Caroline’s oil portrait work is in the following private and public collections: Adelia A. Field Johnston, 1903, Oberlin College, Allen Memorial Art Museum; Governor Lucius F. C. Garvin of Rhode Island, 1903, and Pardon Tillinghast, 1911, Supreme Court, State of Rhode Island, Providence, RI; George Henry Bass, after 1925, Private Collection; Norman S. Parker (age 14), 1905, Private Collection; Mlle. Ollivier, Chateau de la Mouette, France;  President Elizabeth Storrs Meade of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA; Mrs. A. A. F. Johnson, Oberlin College; President McKee, Western College for Women, Oxford, OH; and the Supreme Court, Iowa.  Other notable portraits by her hand include Angelo Patri; Robert Andrews Millikan; General Nelson A. Miles, which are in the collection of the United States Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; and portraits of Margaret Deland; Dallas Lore Sharp; and Dorothy George in Boston University, Boston, MA.   Smith College, Northampton, MA also has portraits in their collections.


Who Was Who in American Art, 1999, page 3298; Davenport's Art Reference, 2006/2007 Edition, page 2153; Mantle Fielding, 1986, page 938; Mallett, page 437; Dealer's Choice Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters... 2002 page 1373; Jennifer Gilbert & Lisa Santangelo, Lesley University; American Art Annual, Vol. XIV, 1917, page 624; History of the Thurbers by Charles H. Thurber Senior; Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Her work can be found at:
R.I. State House, Providence:
1. Oil on canvas, "Portrait of Lucius F.C. Garvin" (acc.# 313416)

Unveiled: a directory and guide to 19th century born artists active in Rhode Island, and where to find their work in publicly accessible Rhode Island collections
by Elinor L. Nacheman

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