Elisabeth Telling Biography

Elisabeth Telling




Elisabeth Telling, portrait painter, etcher, lecturer, and educator, was born to Annie and John E. Telling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 14 July 1882. Telling was a 1904 graduate of Smith College and she also studied with William Penhallow Henderson and Charles Francis Browne at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts between 1904 and 1905, in Munich in 1914 with Moritz Heymann, in Provincetown with George Senseney, and in Maine with Hamilton E. Field.

By 1900, the Telling family had moved to Chicago. According to 1920 U.S. Census, Elisabeth Telling lived with her mother in Chicago and her industry is noted as a portrait etcher. Telling was a member of the Women’s Geographers Club, the Cosmopolitan Club of New York, the Chicago Society of Etchers, and the Chicago Art Club. She exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago with the Chicago Society of Etchers beginning in 1917 and thereafter showed yearly with the society from 1918 through 1926 and 1928 through 1930. A solo exhibition Portrait Drypoints and Drawings by Elisabeth Telling was mounted at the Art Institute of Chicago in January 1922. Telling’s work was also featured at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity annually from 1921 until 1924 and again between 1927 and 1928. She also exhibited with the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, the Print Makers Society of California, and the Annual American exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her work was featured in American Federation of Arts traveling exhibitions.

Telling traveled extensively throughout Europe, Central America, and the Far East. She became internationally known for her portraits of children and portraits of people in their native costume. She kept dairies and often published articles on her travels. Telling became established as an ethnographic artist and, in 1933, the Field Museum of Chicago sponsored her on a trip to the Yucatan, and the following year the museum sponsored a four-month study of the indigenous people of Guatemala.

Her work is represented in the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington. Elisabeth Telling’s archive is located at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Elisabeth Telling died on 30 March 1979 in Guilford, Connecticut.