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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pauline Palmer: American Impressionist, AIC Alumnus- Chicago Icon

Pauline Palmer was a very important American impressionist painter who spent most of her career painting the people and places in and around Chicago. Many art historians consider Palmer as one of the most important artists of the Chicago area. Her paintings display her immense talent as an artist and offer the viewer a window into who she was as a person. She was able to capture both the physical and psychological beauty of the people and places she painted. The beauty and elegance of a Pauline Palmer painting can never be mistaken or forgotten.

Pauline Palmer began her artistic career studying at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1893-1898. For two years in that period of study she learned from the great American artist William Merritt Chase who advised her to further hone her skills in Paris. In Paris, she exhibited in the Salons and achieved medals at various exhibitions. After her success in Paris she returned to Chicago and exhibited all around the Midwest and "became a legend at the Art Institute by winning nearly all the museum's major awards, purchase prizes and honorable mention citations." All these accomplishments awarded her the honor of becoming the first female President of the Chicago Society of Artists in 1918.

Pauline Palmer's portrait paintings are often considered her greatest achievements. Nearly all the portraits that Palmer painted were of either women and/or children. The children in Palmer's paintings are very doll like in appearance, this accentuates their idealized sense of purity and innocence. The women in her portraits are handled in a very different manner. Most of the women have a look of confidence and feeling of independence, which were commonly associated as being masculine traits. Their poses however would be very sensual and feminine. Whether it be a graceful S curve or the sitter will have their hips turned and shoulders out in a very feminine pose.These works show that Palmer used her paintings to critique the issue of gender roles and the perceptions that were in place about women during this time. These paintings went on to serve as a symbol of feminist empowerment.
Pauline Palmer will always be an icon in the Chicago area arts scene. Her works can be put on the same wall as any other American masters and they would look right in place. Palmer's works are found in collections and museums throughout the world. Here at MIR we have heard stories of people having no idea that they owned a Pauline Palmer until they had their paintings cleaned which then uncovered her signature. Her works do have considerable value, enough so that the owner of the Randolph Street Market here in Chicago was able to keep the Market going from the sale of a Pauline Palmer. If you think you have a painting by Pauline Palmer, give us a call and schedule a consultation. We would love the opportunity to examine it!

Written and researched by Robert Snell

307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510

Works cited:

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    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.