Although women have always been underrepresented in the canons of Western art, it was during the 19th and 20th centuries especially that it was difficult for a woman to gain recognition as a serious painter; although many pursued their art and had professional, even academic training, not to mention the rare one-woman exhibit, most remained unknown and would be so today were it not for the efforts put forth in recent decades by devoted collectors and scholars. Such is the case with the early 20th-century American painter Beatrice Whitney Van Ness (1888-1981). Despite her long career (she was 91 when she put down her brushes for the last time), her 7 years of study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with leading painters such as Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson, Philip Hale, and later with Charles Woodbury, her five one-woman exhibitions, at least two major awards (one from the National Academy of Design, New York; the other the Silver Medal at the prestigious Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915), and numerous other prizes, Mrs Van Ness (as she was often referred to) remains little known today. Were it not for research by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the catalogue of its permanent collection, we would know even less.
Southgate MT. Summer Sunlight. JAMA. 2008;299(23):2720. doi:10.1001/jama.299.23.2720
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