photo by Jeff Hurwitz
The Philadelphia Ten, 1917-1945: A Women's Artist Group
July 10 through October 3, 1999
From left to right: M. Elizabeth Price (1877-1965), The Cheerful Barge, c. 1930, oil on canvas, Collection of Louis E. and Carol A. Della Penna; Fern Coppedge (1885-1951), December Afternoon, c. 1924, oil on canvas, Courtesy of Shirley Calvin Fine Art
A unique and progressive group of women painters and sculptors calling themselves the "Ten Philadelphia Painters" and later "The Ten" exhibited together between 1917 and 1945, at first annually in Philadelphia and later with traveling exhibitions at major museums and galleries on the east coast and in the midwest. All studied art in the schools of Philadelphia and all but three of the original ten were graduates of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (PSDW), now known as Moore College of Art and Design. The group first became recognized in 1917, although some had previously exhibited together. Little known today, the work of these twenty-three painters and seven sculptors was well-regarded, widely shown, and aggressively collected in its time.
Regularly included in the exhibition of The Ten were haunting and luminous landscapes by Arizona painter Mary Russell Ferrell Colton; gold leaf-ornamented paneled screens by Bucks County's M. Elizabeth Price; lyrical and dramatic views of Ireland by PSDW faculty member Lucile Howard; painterly seascapes by Constance Cochrane; intimate portraits by Isabel Branson Cartwright; and striking, topical paintings by New York-based artist Theresa Bernstein, who is one of the last surviving members at 107 years old.Beginning in 1926, their exhibition also included work by a small number of sculptors, including Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Beatrice Fenton, and Gladys Edgerly Bates. Four of the approximately thirty women who exhibited with The Ten were the mainstays-Isabel Branson Cartwright, Constance Cochrane, Lucile Howard, and M. Elizabeth Price. While none of The Ten were radical feminists, each made an independent career for herself as a practicing artist, and, contrary to the prevailing custom, retained their maiden names.
The first retrospective exhibition of the Philadelphia Ten has been organized by Dr. Page Talbott, consulting curator and director of the 150th Anniversary Programs at Moore College of Art and Design, and Dr. Patricia Tanis Sydney, independent curator and formerly Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the James A. Michener Art Museum. The exhibit includes the work of two important Bucks County artists, Fern Coppedge and M. Elizabeth Price, and features works from over fifty private and public collections. An illustrated catalog on the work of these women is available.
See also our article on The Philadelphia Ten: A Women's Artist Group 1917-1945 at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Michener Art Museum.
Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
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