Craftsperson · Painter
Born Ca. 1885, Recklesstown(Chesterfield), New Jersey
Died November 17, 1968, New Hope, Pennsylvania
Ethel R. Wallace was a modernist artist who worked in several media, including batik, textiles, and landscape and portrait painting. After studying still life painting with William Lathrop and attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Wallace moved to New York City. There she was influenced by the futurism of Joseph Stella, whom she knew. She was also acquainted with vocalist Eva Gauthier, who introduced her to the Javanese process of batik, which was a method of dying textiles. Wallace's textile art, specifically with batik on velvet and silk, pioneered the process and concept of batik portraits, and brought her great renown during the 1920s. Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney mounted an exhibition of Wallace's work in her New York studio, and Wallace exhibited in New York, London, and Paris. In 1925, she returned to New Hope from Europe and settled in a remodeled building near her father's grist mill. There she worked with Charles F. Ramsey and other artists on a collection of designs for batik curtains. One of her last major undertakings with batik, a batik painting on velvet for the Governor's chair in the Pennsylvania Legislature, was executed in the 1940s.
Image: Ethel Wallace. Photograph by Peggy Lewis, 1958, photo courtesy of Peggy Lewis