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 Harriet Edith Beards Wilson  (1886 - 1972)



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Lived/Active: New Jersey/New York      Known for: commercial art, watercolor painting, fashion design

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Harriet Edith Beards Wilson
An example of work by Harriet Edith Beards Wilson
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Harriet Edith Beards, the fourth of five children, was born into a middle class family in New York City on April 20, 1886. The Beards family moved their family to East Orange, NJ when Harriet was a young child and this is where she attended public schools. After graduation from East Orange High School, she attended Pratt Institute in NYC, graduating in June 1906 at the age of 20. 

Seven years later, in 1913, Harriet Beards married William “Bill” Wilson, a salesman and a part-time cartoonist/artist. The couple resided in West Orange, NJ for many years before moving to Roseland, NJ.  The couple had no children of their own, but were married for 55 years, until Bill died in 1968. Harriet, at age 85, died in Livingston, NJ on February 26, 1972.

Harriet received her formal art training at the Pratt Institute studying fashion design and illustration. Upon completion of her courses, she entered the field of advertising design specializing in pen and ink fashion drawing. After 15 years she decided to retire from commercial world, and, while living in New Jersey, joined the Art Centre of the Oranges.

Inspired by her fellow members, Harriet’s interest was now centered on fine arts and particularly to watercolor. She began to apply herself to this medium and with her disciplined background of drawing, soon mastered the technical handling of watercolor. From the start, she was interested in still life painting although she frequently varied her subject matter, doing the usual landscapes and waterfront motifs.  However, when she began to show her paintings in competitive exhibitions it was generally the still life’s that were awarded a prize. At the New York American Watercolor Society eighty-fifth exhibition in 1952, Harriet, age 66, was the recipient of the Ida Wells Stroud Women’s prize award for her still life painting titled, “Chapeaux.”

Harriet was the recipient of over sixty awards, including prizes from the American Watercolor Society, the Allied Artists of America, the New Jersey Watercolor Society, the Art Centre of the Oranges and the Newark Art Club.  She was elected to membership in the American Watercolor Society in 1946 and was also a member of the New Jersey Watercolor Society, the Art Centre of the Oranges, an Honorable member of the Essex Watercolor Club and a life member of the West Essex Art Association.

Written and submitted by Rolfe Hetherington, relative of the artist.  Sources include a 1969 South Orange Preview and a 1952 American Watercolor Exhibition brochurd

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