In detailed representations of both great urban centers and rustic scenes of rural life, Grace Albee faithfully recorded the
places she knew and loved during a career that spanned more than half of this century. The National Museum of Women in the Arts will
present a retrospective exhibition of her wood engravings.
A native of Rhode Island, Albee and her family joined other expatriate
Americans living in Paris between the World Wars. There she befriended
fellow artists who contributed to her creative development, among them painter
Norman Rockwell and engraver Paul Bornet. Albee rendered city scenes and
picturesque views from her travels throughout France; her concentration on
buildings in Brittany foreshadowed her later interest in rural architecture.
She returned to this country and worked during the 1930s in New York City,
where the architecture of the changing city inspired her. In Contrast
Rockefeller Center (1934), Albee juxtaposed a Gothic church in the
foreground with the dramatically lit skyscrapers beyond. In 1937, Albee and
her family relocated to a farm near Doylestown, Pa. There she included more
intimate portrayals of her surroundings, such as the stone houses and farms of
her neighbors. The Boyer Place (1946) shows her ability to capture the detail
of the farm scape, from the slatted corn crib in the center to the great stone barn
that looms over the scene.
The delicate textures of Albee's country grasses and wildflowers reveal her
command of wood engraving. Coarse stones, aged wood, and rippled water
appear almost touchable. In one of her earliest rural pieces, Housing Problem (1937), Albee's careful observation and composition evoke a
humorous depiction of nomadic goats. It won first prize in the Fifteenth Annual Exhibition of American Prints at the Philadelphia Art
Alliance in 1937.
Albee studied painting and drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design before marrying muralist Percy F. Albee in 1913. She resumed her
artwork in the mid-1920s while she raised five sons. In 1946 she was elected a member of the National Academy of Design in New York
City. In 1976 the Brooklyn Museum hosted a retrospective exhibition, displaying 80 of her works. Albee is represented in museum
collections throughout the United States, with major holdings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Library of
Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Boston Public Library.
Grace Albee: An American Printmaker, 1890-1985 was organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts with guest curator Dr.
Eric Denker, curator of prints at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Mr. and
Mrs. P. Frederick Albee, Jr.; Ms. Nancy W. Mattis; Ms. Jean E. Davis; Legg Mason; Mr. Eugene P. Stichman; General Federation of
Women's Clubs of Rhode Island; Mr. Chester A. Files, Jr.; Rhode Island State Committee/NMWA; Mr. Vincent and Mrs. Betsy Albee; Mr.
and Mrs. Nathaniel Albee; Bethesda Art Gallery; Mr. and Mrs. I. Daniel Crowley; and many other sponsors. Additional assistance was
provided by Dr. Arthur and Mrs. Catherine Bert, Mr. and Mrs. Robert H.I. Goddard, and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Mechnig.