Art of the Week

Isabel Bishop (1902-1988)
Young People Outdoors, 1972
Etching with aquatint, 26 x 28 cm.
Gift of Edward T. Pollack ‘55

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bishop spent much of her childhood in Detroit, Michigan. She came to New York City at the age of sixteen and enrolled in the School of Applied Design for Women in New York, planning to train for a career in commercial art. In 1920, she began her studies at the Art Students League with Kenneth Hayes Miller and later with Guy Pène du Bois. In 1934, Bishop leased a studio on Union Square where she worked for the remainder of her career. Sometimes grouped with her teachers Kenneth Hayes Miller and Reginald Marsh as the Fourteenth Street School, at other times associated with artists Edward Hopper and Raphael and Moses Soyer, Bishop remains one of America’s most distinctive artists and a visual poet of urban working women.

Over the course of an artistic career that lasted more than sixty years, Isabel Bishop attempted to capture the modern woman and the pace of the American city through her work. she abandoned commercial art and focused on figure compositions drawn from real life scenes in the city. In these works, the figures are quickly drawn, the lines and contours suggesting a particular stance, gesture, or mood. These ordinary people are placed in loosely indicated settings, suggested rather than described by a direct, quick brushstroke that evokes the everyday activity and animated rhythms of the modern city. Bishop’s work is also distinguished by her principal subject: women. In the 1930s and 1940s, Bishop drew, painted, and etched a series of works that captured the female face in unexpected moments: flashing perfect teeth while applying lipstick, tightening a cheek to touch up a blemish, or opening a mouth wide to bite a hot dog.

Bishop, Isabel, Isabel Bishop New York, Abrams [1975] ND237 .B594 L86
“Isabel Bishop, the grand manner and the working girl.” By: ALLOWAY, Lawrence. Art in America, Apr1975, Vol. 63, p61-65, 5p
“A Woman of substance: remembering Isabel Bishop.” By: Barnett, Catherine. Art & Antiques, December 1988, p64-71, 8p
“Isabel Bishop: paintings, drawings, prints.” By: Yglesias, Helen. Massachusetts Review, Summer83, Vol. 24, p289-304, 16p
“Isabel Bishop: the seamless web.” By: Ellett, Mary Sweeney. Arts in Virginia, 1991, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p22-32, 11p

Art of the Week

Arthur Rothstein (1915-85)
Vernon Evans, Migrant to Oregon from South Dakota, 1936
Gelatin silver, 28 x 35 cm.
Gift of Lewis W. Siegel ‘70

Arthur Rothstein was born in New York in 1915. He attended the Angelo Patri School in the Bronx and while a student at Columbia University he developed an interest in photography. Two of his tutors, Roy Stryker and Rex Tugwell, asked him to help with the picture editing of a textbook they were working on. During the Great Depression Rothstein was invited by Roy Stryker to join the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) that was established in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The FSA employed a small group of photographers to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America. In 1936 Rothstein was sent to document the Dust Bowl. In 1940, Arthur Rothstein joined the staff of Look Magazine as a photographer. During the Second World War he went back to the Farm Security Administration which had become part of the Office of War Information. This included taking photographs in China, Burma and India. After the war Arthur Rothstein returned to Look Magazine where he worked as Director of Photography until the magazine closed in 1971. He then held the same position for Parade Magazine. Rothstein was the inventor of the X-O-Graph, a three-dimensional printing process. He also taught at several schools and enjoyed mentoring young photographers throughout his long and diverse career. He also published nine books on photography including Look at Us, Let’s See, Here We Are (1967), Photojournalism (1974), A Vision Shared (1976), The Depression Years (1978), Words and Pictures (1980), American West in the Thirties (1982), America in Photographs (1985) and Documentary Photography (1985). Arthur Rothstein died in New Rochelle in 1985.

Vernon Evans (with his family) of Lemmon, South Dakota, near Missoula, Montana on Highway 10. Leaving grasshopper-ridden and drought-stricken area for a new start in Oregon or Washington. Expects to arrive at Yakima in time for hop picking. Live in tent. Makes about two hundred miles a day in Model T Ford.


Rothstein, Arthur, The photographs of Arthur Rothstein / Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, c2011. TR820.5 .R683 2011a

Profile: Arthur Rothstein. Photographic Journal, July 1984, Vol. 124, p315-321, 7p

Art of the Week

Mary Cassatt (1845-1927)
Antoine Holding Child, 1905
Drypoint on beige Hollande paper, 23 x 17 cm.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt’s work with the Impressionists, especially Degas and Édouard Manet, influenced her technique, composition and use of color and light. Degas encouraged her experiments in printmaking. Cassatt and other artists experimented with graphic techniques in the hopes of creating a new print journal. Although the journal never came to fruition, this work became very important to Cassatt in her development as a printmaker and a painter.

Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Her popularity is based on a series of paintings and prints of mothers and children. Early on, the subjects of these works were her friends and family. Toward the end of her career, she used professional models and her compositions were influenced by Renaissance Madonnas and Child. After 1900, she concentrated almost exclusively on mother and child subject matter.

Her failing eyesight prevented her from working for the last 15 years of her life, but because she had been an exceptionally prolific printmaker, she produced more than 220 prints during the course of her career.

  • Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, Mary Cassatt : a catalogue raisonné of the graphic work / Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979. QUARTO NE539 .CA4 1979
  • Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Mary Cassatt / New York : Abrams in association with National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1987.QUARTO N6537 .C35 M3 1987
  • Getlein, Frank. Mary Cassatt : paintings and prints / New York : Abbeville Press, c1980. QUARTO N6537 .C35 G47 1980
  • Images of modern motherhood in the art of Morisot, Cassatt, Modersohn-Becker, Kollwitz. By: Buettner, Stewart. Woman’s Art Journal, Fall86/Winter87, Vol. 7, p14-21, 8p; DOI: 10.2307/1358300

Art of the Week

Richard Westall (1765-1836)
Pocahontas Pleading for the Life of Captain John Smith, 1820-40
Oil on canvas, 45 x 55 cm.
Gift of Arthur S. Olick P’83

Richard Westall was the more successful of two half-brothers (both sons of a Benjamin Westall, from Norwich), who each became painters. His younger half-brother was William Westall (1781-1850), a much-travelled landscape painter. Born in Hertford, Richard Westall was apprenticed to a heraldic silver engraver in London in 1779 before studying at the Royal Academy School of Art in 1785. He exhibited at the Academy regularly between 1784 and 1836, became an Associate in 1792 and was elected an Academician in 1794. His works, including watercolors, encompassed portraits (Queen Victoria, Lord Byron and Richard Ayton) and many historical subjects of a neo-classical nature (e.g.: Shakespearean scenes), and he was a successful illustrator of books (including an edition of the Bible and of John Milton’s poems), working for the noted publisher John Boydell. He also served as drawing master to Princess, later Queen Victoria between 1827 and his death in 1836.

Pocahontas (born Matoaka, and later known as Rebecca Rolfe, c. 1595 – 1617) was a Native American of Virginia notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she is said to have saved the life of a captive, John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him.

“Queen Victoria as an artist, and her teachers”. By: Millar, Delia. Drawing, March/April 1988, Vol. 9, p126-130, 5p