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Isabella Banks Markell (1891 – 1980)

Gracie Mansion, c. 1944, oil on canvas, signed lower right, 25 x 30 inches, presented in a newer frame


Isabella Markell was a painter, etcher, and sculptor, who is best known for her New York City scenes, such as Gracie Mansion. In this work, Markell features the historic New York City mayor's mansion in the foreground with the Hell Gate Bridge in the background obscured by the smoke and steam of the surrounding city and boats moving along the river. Markell's brushy style draws on Expressionist, Post-Impressionist and even Ashcan conventions to present a spare, almost sketchy modernist image. A similar composition by Markell is in the permanent collection of the New York Historical Society Museum and Library.

A native of Superior, Wisconsin, Markell spent most of her adult life in New York City. She studied in France at the Fontainebleau in 1930 and at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. She later continued her studies at the Maryland Institute in 1933 through 1934, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1935, the O'Hara School under Eliot O’Hara in 1938, and the Brackman School under Robert Brackman in 1942, 1943, and 1946. Markell exhibited extensively in juried exhibitions, including at the Newark Museum, the Ringling Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the High Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the Argent Gallery. She was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists, the Pen and Brush Club, the Miami Art Association, the Society of American Etchers, the Philadelphia Print Club, the Washington Printmakers, the Southern States Art League, and the National Association of Women Artists in New York City, where she served as president in 1946. From the mid-1940s through the 1960s, Markell won numerous awards from the National Association of Women Artists and the American Artists Professional League in addition to the Southern States Art League and the Pen and Brush Club. Her works are in the permanent collections of the New York Public Library, the New York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Free Library, the Philadelphia Printmakers Club, the New York Hospital, the Providence Museum of Art, and the Northwest Printmakers. She is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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