"Art appreciation is a hobby of mine."
-M. Elizabeth Price, New York Sun, March 6, 1930
A dedicated, energetic artist and promoter of the arts, M. Elizabeth Price was well known as a painter, lecturer, and art teacher. Widely acclaimed as a "decorative" artist when the word held positive connotations, Price painted a wide range of subjects, although she was best known for her street scenes and floral still lifes. Her most distinctive works were paintings executed on a background of gold and silver leaf, imitating the technique of early Italian Renaissance artists. Committed to women's involvement in the arts, Price was a member of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of women artists who shared a common philosophy of art and who exhibited their work together from 1921 until 1945.
Zealously devoted to cultivating art appreciation in the general public, Price lectured widely and organized several exhibitions across America. In an attempt to cultivate creativity and an eye for beauty in children, she founded the Neighborhood Art School in New York City in 1917. M. Elizabeth Price's tireless efforts on behalf of the arts earned her a place of honor even in an artistic family as distinguished as her own.
Price studied at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, now known as the University of the Arts, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
She exhibited at the Corcoran Biennial in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the National Academy of Design where she received the the Carnegie Prize for best oil painting by an American artist in 1927.
A tireless promoter of the arts, M. Elizabeth Price shared her zeal with her accomplished siblings. One brother, Frederic Newlin Price, owned the successful Ferargil Art Gallery in New York City; another brother, R. Moore Price, was an art dealer and an accomplished frame maker, while his wife, Elizabeth Freedley Price, was a painter; and her brother-in-law, Rae Sloan Bredin, was a member of the New Hope Group. Even in this company, M. Elizabeth Price distinguished herself for her cultivation of women's and children's involvement in the arts.
In attempt to boost women's confidence in their appreciation of art, Price lectured to women's groups, delighting them with canvases by her illustrious friends. Dedicated, also, to advancing the careers of female artists, Price chaired national associations of women artists and served as a member of a respected local organization, the Philadelphia Ten. Committed to stimulating children's creativity, Price founded the Neighborhood Art School in New York City, the success of which earned her national recognition. As an art educator, Price must have drawn upon the childhood experience that shaped not only her own, but also her siblings', extraordinary devotion to the arts.
M. Elizabeth Price painting in the "Glen", 1940. Image courtesy of Joseph Barrett.
Education and Training
Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art, (now University of the Arts), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1896-1904
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1904, 1905-1907
Teachers and Influences:
Studied with Hugh Breckenridge and Daniel Garber at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She studied privately with William L. Lathrop.
She was influenced by Italian artists of the early Renaissance in Sienna and Florence.
Connection to Bucks County:
Growing up on a farm in Solebury, M. Elizabeth Price developed an abiding love for Bucks County. She taught art in New York City before returning permanently to Bucks County in the late 1920s. Residing in an old stone house on the Delaware Canal bank, north of New Hope, Price spent much of her time in her home and studio, called the Pumpkinseed after its bold yellow color and small size. Surrounding the Pumpkinseed, she cultivated a garden whose flowers often served as the subject of her paintings. A dedicated promoter of local artists, M. Elizabeth Price often displayed her paintings in lectures she delivered to the New Hope Women's Club.
Colleagues and Affiliations:
She was a colleague of Fern I. Coppedge, who also was a member of the Philadelphia Ten. M. Elizabeth Price was related to several members of the Bucks County art community. Her brother was the art dealer and framemaker, R. Moore Price, who was married to painter Elizabeth Freedley Price. Her brother in-law was painter Rae Sloan Bredin (who was a member of the New Hope Group of Landscape Painters) was married to her sister Alice. Another brother, Frederic Newlin Price, owned the Ferargil Gallery in New York, which showed the work of many New Hope painters. He also owned real estate on River Road and a house and a farm on Phillips' Mill Road.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Corcoran Biennial, Washington, D.C., 1914
Grand Central Galleries, New York, New York, 1928
American-Anderson Galleries, New York, New York, 1929
Fifty-Sixth Street Galleries, New York, New York, 1929
Artist of the Month, New Hope Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1940
Major Group Exhibitions
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1923, 1926-1943
Continous exhibitions with The Philadelphia Ten from 1921 to 1945
Phillips' Mill Art Association, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1930
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1921-1934
Corcoran Biennial, Washington, D.C., 1914, 1923, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1939
50th Anniversary Exhibition 1889-1939, National Association of Painters and Sculptors, New York, New York, 1939
Exhibition with the Philadelphia Ten, Woodmere Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,1945
50th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition, Phillips' Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1979
Early Women Artists of Bucks County, Bucks County Council of the Arts, Rodman House, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1979
The Philadelphia Ten: A Women's Group of Artists 1917-1945, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1998; Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 1998; The Old Jail Museum, Albany, Texas, 1999; Concord Art Association, Concord, Massachusetts, 1999; James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1999
Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections, James A. Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005 - 2006
Teaching and Professional Appointments:
Founded the "Neighborhood Art School" at the Greenwich House in New York, a program in pottery and woodcarving for children, run in conjunction with the public school system, 1917.
Instituted classes in modeling and drawing for professional women.
Member of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of women artists who shared a common artistic purpose and exhibited together, 1917-1945; Price joined the group in 1921.
Chairman of exhibits for the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, 1920-27. Chairman of the Art Committee of the American Women's Association. She organized a circulating art gallery with exhibits in the United States, South America and Honolulu, 1920.
Carnegie Prize, National Academy of Design, Winter Exhibition, 1927
(for best oil painting by an American artist)
Affiliations and Memberships:
Allied Artists of America
Art Alliance of Philadelphia
American Women's Association
Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors
Phillips' Mill Community Art Association
The Ten Philadelphia Painters
Her work combines a Sienese delicacy of line with a modern freedom in the use of color... [ and is ] in the best sense, dazzling.-Art Digest, July 1, 1932
With her large gilded panels, ornamented with slender buds and flowers, M. Elizabeth Price earned her fame. Hers was a highly original project, the revival of an art form that prevailed in Sienna and Florence during the Renaissance.
In order to produce her panels, M. Elizabeth Price mastered a highly complex technique. The creative process began in her garden, where she patiently cultivated the flowers which often became the subjects of these panels. She favored floral designs because, she explained, "There is a peculiar appeal...in delicate forms--the fragility of buds and twigs." To create her screens, Price first treated wooden panels with repeated surfaces of gesso and red clay, afterwards applying gold or silver sizing. Onto this metal leaf she painted figures and flowers in a rich palette of oils.
Their gold ground ornamented with carefully stylized dahlias and hibiscus, M. Elizabeth Price's panels delighted both the public and critics, who described them as "dazzling." Undoubtedly the Italian primitives themselves would have been fascinated to discover that a twentieth-century artist from Bucks County had breathed new life into their vibrant medium.