Book Review: Alice Schille

Woman with childAlice Schille
By William H. Gerdts
(Published in 2001)

This is a delightful book about an amazing American woman painter who lived and painted in the late 1800’s until the middle 1900’s. She was an exceptional watercolor painter in her time, and was influenced by her contemporaries in Tonalism naturalism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, as well as Diego Rivera and the Mexican muralists. Alice Schille was born in 1869 into a wealthy family in Columbus, Ohio. Because of the fortune of her birth, she was able to devote herself to her art and to travel widely – chronicling much of what she saw in the countries she visited.

Schille attended the Columbus Art School where one of her teachers was Albert C. Fauley, who became a friend and colleague. She received a scholarship to the Art Students League, studying with Kenyon Cox, a classicist who emphasized meticulous drawing skills. She also attended the Chase School of Art (later called the New York School of Art), and then Chases’ Shinnecock School of Art on Long island. While there she became friends with Rockwell Kent, a fellow student, who went on to become an American icon.

Schille’s works in oil were competent and well-received, but she definitely excelled in watercolor. If you are interested in the medium, you must see her wonderful paintings – in a large variety of styles and pallets. She even did some work in Pointillism – and was influenced by the pointillists in other work that went in different directions. Watercolorists have never had the recognition that oil painters receive, and women have never had the recognition that men artists have – and Schille was no exception. But she is probably one of the very best American watercolor painters of all time (men included).

I was so glad to discover Schille, after having lived a good portion of my life as a watercolor painter without ever knowing that she existed. The YC library has the book, containing a very well-written essay about Schille’s life by William H. Gerdts, with 181 color plates and 33 black and white illustrations, and I guarantee that you will be glad you found it too!


By Patsy
By Patsy