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 Edith Stevenson Wright  (1883 - 1975)

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: portrait painting

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from Auction House Records.
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Biography from Massillon Museum:
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Edith Wright was the daughter of Samual Henry Stevenson, a steelworker from England, and Alice Madolia Gaither.  Her family lived between Youngstown and Toronto, Canada, and at age 13 she attended the Central Ontario School of Art.  At age 16, she received permission from her father to study privately with J.W.L. Forester, a British painter of government ministers. She spent three years as his studio apprentice. At the age of 19, while visiting Youngstown with her mother and younger sister, she heard the shocking news of her father’s sudden death in Toronto.  This situation left the family in debt and without any means of support.

Wright began painting portraits to support her small family.  After two years of study with Kenyon Cox at the Art Students League in New York, she resumed her career as a portraitist.  Early influences on her portraiture were William Merritt Chase and John Singer Sargent.

In 1924, Wright moved to Cleveland with her daughter Dare where she set up a studio in the Hanna Building and began a long career of painting the city’s prominent politicians and industrialists.  By 1925, she was considered an accomplished artist of powerful, dramatic portraits.  Her most famous painting was of President Calvin Coolidge, which began with a personal sitting in Washington D.C.  The painting was presented to the public and press in 1928.  She also painted Winston Churchill in 1954.  Her commissions took her to New York, Paris, Los Angeles and Bristol England.  She received considerable press coverage during her lifetime, as well as honors from the Paris Salon.

Submitted December 2005 by Christine Fowler Shearer, Director, Massillon Museum, Massillon, Ohio.

Sources include:
Biographical information pulled from the exhibition catalog, Breaking With Tradition: Ohio Women Painters, 1870-1950. Christine Fowler Shearer, author. Published by the Massillon Museum in 2005. 

Other sources include clipping files from the Cleveland Museum of Art and the catalog Transformations in Cleveland Art, 1796-1946. William H. Robinson and David Steinburg, authors. Published by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1996.

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