Providence Art Club

Providence, RI



Resource Library articles and essays honoring the American experience through its art:

Joan Boghossian & Jan Gaudreau / Barbara A. Dahill: A Journal of Painting (4/23/04)

Brian Larkin and Joy Nordquist / Carol Strause FitzSimonds (6/12/03)

Hal Golden and Lori Zamansky (9/13/00)

Pine and Bamboo: Madolin Maxey at Providence Art Club (10/24/99)

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue (9/99)


The two Club galleries are located at 11 Thomas Street, Providence, RI, 02903. Founded in 1880 to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community, the Club has long been a place for artists and art patrons to congregate, create, display and circulate works of art.  Located along Thomas Street, in the shadow of the First Baptist Church, the Providence Art Club is a picturesque procession of historic houses, home to studios, galleries and the clubhouse. Through its public programs, its art instruction classes for members and its active exhibition schedule, the Providence Art Club continues a tradition of sponsoring and supporting the visual arts in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.


About the collection

In 2007 the Providence Art Club exhibited "Highlights from Providence Art Club Collection." Following are the wall and label texts for the exhibition.

The second half of the nineteenth century saw the formation of art clubs and art associations as forums for American artists to exhibit, promote and sell their work. The Providence Art Club, founded in 1880 by men and women, professional and amateur artists, would exist "for art culture."
Similarly, in 1912, the Art Association of Newport (now the Newport Art Museum and Art Association) was founded to benefit the cultural life of the community.
Progressive in their day, these two organizations each included women as founders and early members. Many of the artists exhibited at both institutions. Works by Edward M. Bannister, Elijah Baxter, Sydney Burleigh, Antonio Cirino, Florence Leif, Frank Mathewson, Robert Stephens and Charles Walter Stetson are included in both permanent collections.
At the turn of the twentieth century the Providence Art Club and the Art Association of Newport also subscribed to old-fashioned canons of beauty. Realism and impressionism triumphed over the avant-garde. H. Anthony Dyer, president of the Providence Art Club and lecturer at the Art Association of Newport in 1914, said "We want art in this country that will stand the test of the love of the American people for beautiful things." Thus the preponderance of flowers, still lives, landscapes and interiors.
Today the Providence Art Club and the Newport Art Museum continue the tradition of supporting and sponsoring the visual arts, particularly on the regional level. We hope that this selection of work will raise awareness as to the breadth of art history and arts advocacy here in Rhode Island.
Marcus Waterman
American, 1834-1914
The Feast of Mohammed, c. 1880
Oil on canvas
Frederic Stone Batcheller
American, 1835-1899
Oil on canvas
Helen Frances Andrews
American, born in 1872
Oil on canvas
Norwood H. MacGilvary
American, born in Thailand, 1874-1950
Room Interior
Oil on canvas
MacGilvary studied in Paris with A.J. Laurent; he spent his later career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Percy Albee
American, 1883-1959
Early Morning in Autumn, 1922
Oil on board
A painter and decorative muralist trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Albee was married to fellow artist, renowned wood engraver Grace Albee.
Edward M. Bannister
American, born in Canada, 1828-1901
At Pawtuxet, 1897
Oil on canvas
Bannister is known for his Barbizon-inspired pastoral paintings, as well as for being a successful African-American nineteenth century artist. Bannister studied under William Rimmer at the Lowell Institute, maintained a studio in Boston, and worked in New York processing solar prints, before moving to Providence. He was a founder of the Art Club in 1880.
Elijah Baxter
American, 1849-1939
Roses, 1918
Oil on canvas
Elijah Baxter was one of the eight original artist founders of the Art Association of Newport, as well as a member of the Providence Art Club. He painted in Newport for many years, where he had a studio at the Henry Clews estate, The Rocks.
Hugo August Breul
American, born in Germany, 1851-1910
Devoted to His Art, c. 1890
Oil on canvas
Breul studied portraiture with William Merrit Chase and was a charter member of the Art Students League in New York City. He made Providence his home, becoming an Art Club member in 1883. He exhibited at numerous venues, including the National Academy of Design, Boston Art Club and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where this painting was shown in 1891.
Sydney R. Burleigh
American, 1853-1931
Little Girl with Muff, 1905
Oil on canvas
Originally from Little Compton, Rhode Island, Burleigh left to study art in France and Italy in the late 1870s. He returned to Providence in 1880 and became active on the Rhode Island art scene, especially the Art Club, where he was president from 1915 to 1921. A very prolific artist, Burleigh also designed furniture and his arts and crafts style Fleur de Lys studio, which stands on Thomas Street in Providence.
Antonio Cirino
American, born in Italy, 1888-1983
Boats at Rockport
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mary Kosowski
Cirino was a painter and jewelry maker, an active member of the Providence Art Club, its "sister" organization the Salmagundi Art Club and the Rockport Art Association. He studied and taught at Columbia University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
H. Anthony Dyer
American, 1872-1943
Last Watch, Nantucket
Watercolor and pencil on paper
Dyer, like his friend Sydney Burleigh, was a native Rhode Islander, president of the Providence Art Club (from 1905-1914) and well-seasoned traveler. He exhibited his watercolors at the Art Association of Newport several times and lectured here as well.
Earl R. Davis
American, 1886-1956
Bermuda Byway
Watercolor and pencil on paper
William Staples Drown
American, 1856-1915
Oil on panel
H. Cyrus Farnum
American, 1866-1925
Cape Cod
Oil on canvas
Originally from Glocester, Rhode Island, Farnum went to Paris to study with Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant in 1893. Successful in his day, he had a painting accepted at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was a Providence Art Club member and maintained a spacious studio in Providence.
Maude Richmond Fenner
American, born 1868
Still Life with Lemons
Oil on canvas
Gift of Al Morris, 1999
Fenner, from Bristol, Rhode Island, was one of several early women Providence Art Club members. She had studied with Sydney Burleigh and Frank Mathewson at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Henry R. Kenyon
American, 1861-1926
Venice II
Oil on canvas
Born in Centertown, Rhode Island, Kenyon attended the Rhode Island School of Design and studied at the Academie Julian in Paris, developing an American impressionist style. He lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where his landscapes reflected the New England countryside as well as European scenes.
Florence Leif
American, 1913-1968
Still Life, 1941
Oil on canvas
Florence Leif absorbed both American and European modernist influences in her too brief career. A lifelong resident of Providence and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Leif spent her summers painting and studying on Cape Cod. In 1941, Leif married the artist Gordon Peers, chief critic for RISD's European Honor's Program; she then lived in Rome for a year and traveled extensively in Europe.
Frank Mathewson
American, 1862-1941
Pines at Westport Point, 1896
Watercolor and pencil on paper
A Rhode Islander from Barrington, Mathewson received familial support for his artistic studies and studied in Paris under Paul Laurens and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Facile in both watercolor and oil, Mathewson's style revolved around "the plain face of nature," painting sensitive and color-imbued floral and landscape studies.
Sydney R. Burleigh
American, 1853-1931
Drying Sails
Oil and pastel on paperboard
Maxwell Mays
American, born 1918
Untitled, 1949
Gouache on paper
Gift of Al Morris, 1998
Legendary at the Providence Art Club, Mays studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and became a successful artist and illustrator, doing many covers for Yankee Magazine. He lives and works in an old Rhode Island farmhouse.
Emma Parker (Polly) Nordell
American, 1879-1958
At the Garden Gate
Watercolor and pencil on paper
Nordell, from Massachusetts, studied at the Rhode Island School of Design with Sydney Burleigh and Stacy Tolman, as well as at the Art Students League in New York and at the Academie Colarossi in Paris. She was married to the Danish-born Art Club member, Carl Nordell.
Angela O'Leary
American, 1879-1921
Watercolor and pencil on paper
A wonderfully lyrical watercolorist, O'Leary was a student and admirer of Sydney Burleigh, whose work she emulated. A native of Providence, her subject matter was close to home, the streets and shops around South Main Street.
Helen Watson Phelps
American, 1864-1944
Oil on canvas
An early member of the Providence Art Club originally from Attleboro, Massachusetts, Phelps studied at the Academie Julian in Paris. She became a noted portraitist and figure painter, exhibiting at the Boston Art Club, Art Association of Newport and in New York.
Frederick Sisson
American, 1863-1962
Still Life
Oil on canvas
Born in Providence, Sisson had an excellent art education, graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Academie de la Grande Carmiere in Paris and studying with Abbott Thayer at the Dublin, New Hampshire Artists Colony. Sisson taught at RISD from 1924-1952.
Robert K. Stephens
American, born in 1906
Narragansett Electric Coal Barge, 1941
Watercolor and pencil on paper
A transplanted artist from Pennsylvania, Stephens studied at Syracuse University and the Art Students League in New York, and was influenced by the Precisionist style of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. He was also associated with John Frazier at the Rhode Island School of Design, another Art Club member whose work is on view in the adjacent gallery.
Charles Walter Stetson
American, 1858-1911
Nude Figure
Oil on panel
The painter of moody, softly modulated forms built on color, Stetson was a Rhode Island born artist who sought his figurative or landscape subject matter in New England, California and Rome, where he spent his later years. Nude, like A Poetess on the stair landing outside of this room, is characteristic of Stetson's figures in a landscape, an evocative woman cloaked in a shroud of mystery, almost dream-like. Stetson was a founder of the Providence Art Club.
Benjamin W. Stillwell
American, 1831-1914
Farm with Stream and Trees, 1870
Oil on canvas
Emma Lavinia Swan
American, 1853-1927
Oil on canvas
The daughter of a Providence cameo-cutter, Swan, like many women artists, received art instruction from her father and was an early member of the Art Club. She studied under Abbott Thayer and went to Europe for further study, receiving many local commissions for her still lifes and flower paintings.
Stacy Tolman
American, 1860-1935
French Interior
Oil on canvas
Tolman came to Providence from Massachusetts in 1890, joining the Art Club and the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design. He had studied at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Academie Julian in Paris. Tolman primarily painted portraits and interior genre scenes.
Mabel May Woodward
American, 1877-1945
Beach Scene
Oil on panel
One of Rhode Island's most renowned painters of American impressionism, Woodward was an early graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and returned as a long-time instructor. Her studies also included the Art Students League in New York and the Chase School.

Above wall and label texts are courtesy of the Providence Art Club. If you have questions or comments regarding the texts, please contact the Providence Art Club.

For hours and admission fees please see the Club's website.


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