As I watched Antiques Roadshow last week I scribbled “Nellie Knopf” on a piece of paper as a reminder to find out more about this artist on the internet. There is very little about her but what there is packs a punch.
As an artist, she often traveled to the west to paint, including taking two sabbaticals for her passion. What makes her so unique is that she was born in 1875, was deaf, was a department head at the Illinois Women’s College, and created bold paintings when women were still limited on their own independence.
The following quoted statements are from the Antiques Roadshow website:
APPRAISER: You've brought in a painting by Nellie Knopf, and interestingly enough, she's actually from Chicago. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in the summers, up to the early '20s, she went to Ogunquit, Maine, and studied with an artist there named Charles Woodbury. And then, after about 1923, she actually went out West and began painting mountains and pueblos; and for a woman at that period, that was very rare. She was almost like a pioneer, because keep in mind that Georgia O'Keeffe didn't go out West until about 1929, so quite a bit later. She also was challenged in a couple of other ways. She was deaf, for one; and secondly, as a single woman, a single woman artist, she had a very hard road to travel. Because women artists, um, at this time, were not supported very well-- even the ones that were married. Often they were overshadowed by their husbands if they were married to artists. If they had husbands that weren't artists, perhaps they had extra support. But she really had to go out on her own and do that.
And the other thing is the wonderful brushwork here. It's very bold, broad and gutsy. And again, for a woman...
GUEST: A woman.
APPRAISER:...it's very, very unusual.
For all those gutsy women out there, bravo!