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Lois Wilde Hartshorne (1902 - 1972)

Lois Wilde Hartshorne (1902 – 1972), The New Road, c. 1936, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches, exhibited Minnesota State Fair, unknown date, but almost certainly 1936 (label verso with artists name, address, title and original price), inscribed verso "late 1930's" and "c. 1935 - 39"; presented in original strip frame; provenance includes the owner of Hartshorne's The Berry Pickers (described below) which is framed identically


About the Painting

The New Road is almost certainly one of two paintings Hartshorne entered in the 1936 Minnesota State Fair. The Minneapolis Star reported, “One of the chief comer uppers this season is Lois Wilde Hartshorne, who has ventured away from stock subjects to view the everyday activities of rural workers. In two compositions, especially in The Berry Pickers, she has found vital movement and color and presented them in engaging patterns.” Like her teacher, Cameron Booth, the best of Hartshorne’s paintings, including The New Road, depict rural regionalist subjects from the upper Midwest with a modernist impulse and broad spare brushstrokes. Her efforts were rewarded in the 1936 State Fair competition when The Berry Pickers won second prize ahead of Booth whose entry came in third place. The New Road is a rare work, since Hartshorne’s production was limited and she became less active as she raised a family during the late 1930s through the early 1950s.

About the Artist

Lois Wilde Hartshorne was a painter who mainly worked in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The daughter of a prominent philosophy professor at the University of Minnesota, Hartshorne was a 1924 graduate of Smith College. The artist married Richard Hartshorne, a Geography professor, in 1928. She also studied art at the University of Minnesota and with Cameron Booth, Anthony Angorola and with Lhote in Paris. She exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair as early as 1935. In 1936, she won second prize in the figure composition category ahead of Booth who won the third-place award. The following year, in addition to exhibiting again at the State Fair, Hartshorne was elected President of the Minnesota Artists Union, a rare honor for a female painter working in the upper Midwest during the Great Depression, which The Minneapolis Star favorably reported. In 1938 and 1939, the Hartshorne family moved to Nazi-occupied Vienna, Austria while Professor Hartshorne was on sabbatical. While there, the Hartshornes provided money and assistance to Jewish friends to immigrate to the United States. In 1940, Hartshorne moved to Madison where her husband assumed a professorship at the University of Wisconsin. Hartshorne exhibited in the Madison Artist’s Exhibitions during the 1940s, winning an honorable mention in 1941. She was a member of the Madison Art Center, the Madison Art Guild and the Madison Art Association which hosted a solo exhibition of her work in 1958. In connection with the solo exhibition, The Capital Times noted that Hartshorne had “returned to her field after retiring while her three daughters were growing up.” Hartshorne is listed in Who Was Who in American Art.


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