ARTIST: Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956)
MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas (16 X 18)
ARTIST TOP PRICE EVER: $505,000
OUR PRICE THIS WORK: (Call 646-239-6142)
Lazzell Prices and Sales Keep Moving Up
The artist dressed to paint
Abstraction XI, sold for
$505,000 at Sotheby's
Woodblock Portrait in
pioneering white line style
Like Maurice Prendergast, Blanche Lazzell was challenged by hearing impairment and focused her entire energy on visual representation. She is one of America's earliest artists favoring abstract cubism and a determined modernist. Not a coal miner's daughter, she was born in 1878 and grew up on a farm in Maidsville, West Virginia. The Lazzells were devout Methodists,
attending the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, and Nettie Blanche was the ninth of ten children. She was determined to learn. At fifteen, she enrolled in the West Virginia Conference Seminary; in 1899 she enrolled in the South Carolina Co-educational Institute, and became a teacher at the Red Oaks School in Ramsey, South Carolina. But determined to study art, she entered West Virginia University in 1901. New York beckoned, and she enrolled in the Art Students League in 1908 where she studied under painters
Kenyon Cox and William Merritt Chase. She was a student alongside Georgia O'Keeffe.
In 1912, Lazzell sailed on the SS Ivernia, beginning her first period of European study. She lived in Montparnasse, attended lectures by Florence Heywood and Rossiter Howard, and took classes at the Académie Julian and other schools popular with American painters. But she soon moved to the Académie Moderne, where she studied with painter Charles Guérin and also avant-gardist David Rosen. In February 1913, she joined four other young women on a six-week sketching tour of Italy. But she returned to Paris via Germany to study with Guérin, who helped her focus on landscape works. She returned to Morgantown in 1914, where she rented a studio, and supported herself by selling hand-painted china.
Cape Cod in Autumn brought $65,500
Think Marsden Hartley
Village Road brought $56,400
Lazzell journeyed to Provincetown at the tip of Massachusetts’s Cape Cod in 1915, quickly joining the flourishing artist colony. Stella Johnson and Jessie Fremont Herring, two of Lazzell's companions from her tour in Italy, were already in Provincetown and Lazzell stayed with Johnson's mother. She studied with Charles Webster Hawthorne, where she was exposed to the Fauvist style, and later with painting instructor, Oliver Chaffee, who taught her the new white-line woodcut technique innovated by Arthur Wesley Dow. Eventually she joined the Provincetown Printers collective, and her work was recognized. In 1919, Lazzell was featured in an exhibition in Manhattan at the Touchstone Gallery alongside Weinrich, Mary Kirkup, and Flora Schoenfeld that was widely reviewed for its modernism. The show included Lazzell's depiction of The Monongahela, which brought her national exposure. Lazzell later joined the New York Society of Women Artists and the Society of Independent Artists. Finally, in 1935, she studied with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, and his influence can readily be seen in the asymmetry of her later works. In 1956, Lazzell's health began to fail
and she was hospitalized in Massachusetts where she died after a stroke. Her works appear in numerous public collections, including the Smithsonian, the Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.