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Elsie Palmer Payne (1884-1971)

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Directory: Fine Art: Paintings: Oil: N. America: American: Pre 1940: item # 1018670

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Elsie Palmer Payne  (1884-1971)
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"The Farm" oil on canvas 40" x 25" Elsie Palmer was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 9, 1884 and was raised by parents who had emigrated from England where her father had raised fine horses. In 1886, they moved from Texas, where they had tried unsuccessfully to raise horse, to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco where Elsie Payne was raised. After studying locally at the Best Art School, she worked as a commercial artist designing billboards and ads including for Old Dutch Cleanser, Kellogg's Cereal and Pabst beer. She was so successful she won a national prize and amazingly was paid the same as her male colleagues. Her work took her to Chicago where she studied at the Chicago Fine Arts Academy and married artist Edgar Payne in 1912. The couple took several trips to California in the intervening years before settling in Laguna Beach in 1917, The Paynes exhibited throughout Europe from 1922-1924, and while there, her work was highly praised by the French critics. She carried her art supplies around in a canvas shopping bag, and according to the daughter, Evelyn Payne Hatcher, "We lived in a different city every winter until I went to high school in New York. My mother had promised I could spend my high school years in one location." Eventually maintaining residence in Laguna Beach, she established the Elsie Palmer Payne Art School in 1934. Working in watercolor, oil, tempera and gouache she produced florals, landscapes and portraits in an illustrative style. Elsie moved to her daughter's home in Minneapolis in 1969 and died there on June 17, 1971 having sacrificed much of her own talent during her productive years to further the career of her husband. She has however come to be considered as one of the great California artists of her time. In 1988 a major retrospective exhibition of her work titled "Out of the Shadow" was held at the Carnegie Art Museum.


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