Elisabeth Spalding Biography

Elisabeth Spalding




Painter Elisabeth Spalding was born in March of 1868, in Erie, Pennsylvania. Her father, an Espiscopal bishop, was appointed to a church in Denver, Colorado, moving his family west in 1874. While a student at Wolfe Hall, an all-female high school, Spalding was sent to study in England and France. After graduation, she moved to New York City to enroll at the Cooper Union and the Art Students League in New York. Among her teachers were Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, John Twatchman, and Kenyon Cox. She spent her summers studying at various artists colonies throughout the North East and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts' summer program in Chester Springs. Through these courses she worked under Arthur Wesley Dow and Charles Woodbury.

By 1890 she had returned to Denver, where she began building a reputation as an artist and an arts promoter. She was a charter member of the Denver Artists' Club, which would become the Denver Art Museum in 1923, and she co-founded the first all-women art club in Denver, the Le Brun Art Club, in 1928. At various times she worked as a curator, and art juror, and would be a leading facilitator for the acquisitions department at the museum. In 1919 she was one of the few women elected to the New York Water Color Club, and later became a member of the Providence Water Color Society and the Washington Water Color Club (now Association).

Spalding worked in both oils and watercolors and she exhibited frequently throughout the U.S. and in France. Her work focused primarily on port-Impressionist landscapes and still lifes that utilized saturated color and expressive, bold brushstrokes. After a voyage to the Mediterranean aboard a touring cruise ship, she expanded her landscapes to encompass this new atmosphere, taking meticulous notes and continuing to work from memory once she had returned to the states. Spalding was awarded the City Club of Denver's medal for Distinctive Achievment in Painting, and her work to promote art education and community exposure to the arts remains an important part of Denver's history. Spalding died in Denver in 1954.

Solo Exhibitions: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe (1919); Galerie Jean Nart, Paris (1932); University of Colorado, Boulder (1936-37); Denver Art Museum (1942). 

Group Exhibitions: Philadelphia Water Color Society; Washington Water Color Society; Yale School of Fine Arts; Paint and Clay Club, New Haven, Connecticut; Peabody Institute, Massachusetts; (all before 1919); Le Brun Art Club (1891-93); Artists Club/Denver Art Museum (1894-1941); Texas Coast Fair, Dickson (1896); Erie Arts Club, Pennsylvania (1898), Art Institute of Chicago (1970, 1920, 1939); New York Water Color Club (1912, 1915-16, 1918, 1920-21); American Watercolor Society, New York (1916); Laguna Beach Art Association, California (1920-1930); Brooklyn Museum (1925); Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1928); Colorado State Fair, Pueblo (1928); National Arts Club, New York (1931); Stockholm (1932); First National Exhibition of American Art, Rockefeller Center, New York (1936); American Art Today, New York World’s Fair (1939).