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Lilian Hale

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Lilian Hale lived near Boston most of her life, creating a broad range of impressionist and realist style paintings including portraits, landscapes, still lifes, figures, and interior scenes. She was particularly noted for charcoal drawing and for her innovation of placing a still life on a window sill to reveal the landscape beyond.

She was the youngest of three daughters born to Edward Gardiner and Harriet Westcott and was obviously gifted from a young age. She attended the Hartford Art School in Connecticut where her talents were noticed by William Merritt Chase, one of the country's renowned Impressionists, who proved to be her major influence.

She also attended Chase's summer school at Shinnecock, Long Island and in 1900, having earned a scholarship from the Hartford Art Society, she began classes at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. She was a student of Edmund Tarbell and Philip Leslie Hale, whom she married in 1902.

After graduating from the Museum School in 1904 and a trip to Europe, she began annual exhibitions in Boston and received wide acclaim for the beauty of her figure and still life paintings and the quality of their draftsmanship and drawing.

The birth of her daughter, Anna Westcott Hale, in 1908 caused her to give up her Boston Fenway Studio where she had worked with leading artists including Frank Benson, Joseph De Camp, her husband, and sometimes John Singer Sargent.

The Hales moved to Dedham, Massachusetts, near Boston, and her maternity restrictions proved to be only a temporary diversion from her art. She began sketching domestic scenes, which revealed her obvious delight in motherhood. She set up her studio at home, and from her window painted many quintessential New England snowscenes and garden views. It was said that her love of gardening equalled her love of painting.

In 1910, she won the Bronze Medal at the Buenos Aires Exposition and the Gold Medal at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915. She continued to exhibit widely, and in the 1920s gained the attention of Duncan Phillips, a major patron of the arts who created The Phillips Museum in Washington D.C.

She also gained many portrait clients and was elected a member of the National Association of Portrait Painters. In 1927, she won the prestigious Altman Prize at the National Academy of Design for her "Portrait of Taylor Hardin." The situation was unusual in two respects-- she was the first woman to win that prize, and the portrait was one of her few male subjects.

Her husband died in 1931. She had a terrible time recovering emotionally, and for several years did no painting. She organized a memorial exhibition of his work at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, and eventually resumed her own career. In 1955, she moved to Virginia to be near her daughter and grandchildren and spent her summers in Rockport, Massachusetts with her unmarried sister-in-law, Ellen Day Hale.

Lillian died unexpectedly in 1963 after winning a portrait prize from the Rockport Art Association and a trip to Italy. She is remembered for a lifetime of serious commitment to her art and for the quality of her paintings.

Biography with permission from

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