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Lillian Genth Guarisco Gallery

Lillian Genth

(American, 1876-1953)

Lillian Genth was born in Philadelphia and studied with Elliott Daingerfield at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. After winning the Elkins Scholarship from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1900, Genth embarked on a three year trip to Europe, settling first in Paris where she became a student of Whistler at the Académie Carmen which he founded in 1898. “Genth’s artistic style developed early, and changed only slightly throughout her career,” writes Todd D. Smith in the catalogue for the retrospective exhibition held in 1990. “She was influenced from the beginning by the work of James McNeill Whistler, her teacher. The emphasis he placed on the totality of the canvas remained evident in Genth’s work throughout. In addition, Genth emulated Whistler’s personality - one of fierce determination and a willingness to remain true to one’s art no matter what cost. Genth's artistic style was largely a culmination of formal Acadmic art and Impressionst art. “The other characteristic of Genth’s work is her portrayal of strong, beautiful women who seem to transcend their culture and society. Moreover, the females, either the nudes of her early career or the late exotic women of Spain, Africa and the Orient, always defy their societal confines. When one looks at Genth’s work, one can recognize how the artist has projected her own strong-willed personality onto the canvas… “It was not until Genth returned to the United States in 1904 … that her career really began to flourish. In that year, Genth was included in three exhibitions, one at the National Academy of Design, one at the Philadelphia Art Club and one at the Worcester Museum. More importantly, though, Genth was given her first one-person show in October, 1904 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts… Between the years of 1905 and 1907, Genth exhibited in most of the major art galleries, museums and important art clubs in the United States, including the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Art Club and the Carnegie Institute. Others included the Cincinnati Museum, the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Art Club and the Corcoran Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.) “By 1906, Genth abandoned her low-toned European-inspired landscapes and devoted her work entirely to the depiction of the female form, primarily the nude… The development of Genth’s nudes progressed very quickly into a mature style in which a dialogue is created between the perfected nudes and idyllic landscapes which they inhabited… “On August 12, 1928, Genth startled and perplexed the art world with her announcement that she would no longer paint female nudes… [in order to] devote herself to Spanish and Oriental themes exclusively… The paintings of Spain and North Africa which Genth completed were met with immediate critical and public approval in the United States. Genth’s agent, The Milch Galleries, held several exhibitions of these European and African pieces between 1927 and 1931… Just as 1928 witnessed the closing of one chapter in Genth’s career, so did 1931. At the end of that year, after returning from a trip to the Orient, she announced that she would no longer paint European or African subjects."