M. Elizabeth Price: Mallows

Curatorial Voice

The Art Gene

Is there an “art gene”? I suspect a geneticist would laugh at this question. There are so many ingredients in the cookie dough of the artistic soul that each artist really does seem to be stamped out from a different mold. Then along comes the Price family, and you have to wonder. Two brothers, two sisters; three were artists, and the fourth was a famous gallery director and art expert.

Alice Price was a painter, but like so many creative women of her generation, she married an artist (Rae Sloan Bredin), had a family, and stopped painting. Alice’s brother R. Moore Price was an accomplished framemaker; her other brother, F. Newlin Price, ran one of the most prominent galleries in New York, Ferargil Galleries, and championed the work of several of his well-known friends and neighbors from Bucks County.

With all these Prices roaming the countryside, which Price was the right Price? Which Price put the rest of the Price family on the map? That would be M. Elizabeth Price, one of the rare female artists who had a career that rivaled many of her Y-chromosomed counterparts. M. Elizabeth Price is mostly known for her landscapes and especially for her floral still lifes, often made with gold and silver leaf in a technique that went all the way back to the Renaissance. She also was a member of the now-famous group of female painters known as the Philadelphia Ten, and she gave generously of her time to do lectures and demonstrations, especially for children. As she modestly said, “Art appreciation is a hobby of mine.”

M. Elizabeth Price (1877-1965), Mallows, 1929, oil on canvas, H. 30 x W. 30 inches. Collection of Carol and Louis Della Penna.

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