The Woman’s Art Club: Male Artists Need Not Apply
We recently posted about the Tenth Street Studio, the first of its kind, purpose-built studio/live-work space for artists, completed in 1858 at 51 West 10th Street. In 1889 a group of accomplished women artists started their own club in Greenwich Village, the Woman’s Art Club of New York. Its members and artists who participated in the Club’s exhibitions included Mary Cassatt, Suzanne Valadon, Rosa Bonheur, Cecelia Beaux, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Later, the organization changed its name to the National Association of Women Artists, and it continues to this day promoting the work of women artists.
At a time when women artists were undervalued by the male-dominated art world, the Club was founded with the purpose of furthering women’s standing as artists and to provide opportunities to exhibit their work. Its founding members included Anita C. Ashley, Adele Frances Bedell, Elizabeth S. Cheever, Edith Mitchell Prellwitz, and Grace Fitz-Randolph. They first met in Fitz-Randolph’s studio on Washington Square.
In 1892, in the Club’s third year, it held its annual exhibition at 9 West 10th Street. According to The New York Times, nearly 300 works were exhibited in a variety of mediums including oils, watercolors, pastels and etchings and all were by women artists, most of whom were members of the club. The Times had this to say about the exhibition:
The excellence of work in oil and watercolors and etching turned out by women has been remarked very often in reviews of exhibitions in The Times, especially in exhibitions at the Academy of Design. It is well, therefore, that women should combine here, as they have long combined in Paris, to show their own work by itself, unaffected by the opinion or the prejudices of masculine juries of acceptance and masculine hanging committees.
Artists who exhibited at this show included Emily Slade, Frances Hunt Troop, Clara Weaver Parrish, Ella Condie Lamb, Mary Cecilia Wheeler, Adelaide W. Wadsworth, Fanny Tewksbury, Carol M. Albright, Harriet Bain, Anna Wood Brown, Rose Clark, and Mary Cassatt of Paris.
The organization continued to attract many talented artists whose work would later achieve great recognition. Some would also establish museums which would support women as artists, including the Whitney Museum of Art established by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and the sculpture museum Brookgreen Garden in South Carolina created by Anna Hyatt Huntington.