Exhibition Content This is the first simultaneous examination of three artists from one of America's most distinguished artistic, literary, and historic families. The interdisciplinary exhibit concentrates on the artworks retained by Ellen Day Hale, Lilian Westcott Hale, and Philip Hale from their careers at home and abroad during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, complemented by artifacts and original personal correspondence. More than fifty paintings, drawings, and etchings now owned by the artists' descendants will be exhibited and may be supplemented by host collections. This multimedia exhibit imparts a broad understanding of the artists functioning within their own discrete worlds and as a part of their cultural period. The collection reflects wider trends in period art of both America and Europe, and project partners can enhance the gathered work with their collections from the same period. Overview This major traveling exhibition is composed of privately held artworks retained in the family of the respected Hale artists. The pieces have not been viewed by the public for a half century, and many of them may never have been exhibited. The three artists who worked closely and shared emotional lives, have never been viewed together despite their close personal connections. In addition to the many works retained by Ellen Day Hale (1855-1940), her brother, Philip Leslie Hale (1865-1931), and his wife, Lilian Westcott Hale (1880-1963), the exhibit includes artifacts from the artists' lives, many of which are featured in the artworks, along with manuscripts and correspondence emphasizing the thoughts and ideas of the artists and key themes of the exhibit. The Hale Family in American Art demonstrates the importance of the financial and emotional support provided by the artists' families as they struggled to achieve their artistic ambitions, as well as the mentorship that they proffer each other. The clear effects of gender constructs on the artists' development and their career paths is highlighted in correspondence and reflected in their art. The three Hales each pursued a thorough art education, and their separate experiences demonstrate both the increasing acceptance of women in the art world and the carefully maintained controls which provided the women continual challenges in their efforts to prove themselves as professionals despite their gender. This exhibit relies on both textual examples and artworks to assert the gender constructs of the period and the consequent effects on art education. Men were undeniably the power brokers of the nineteenth and twentieth century art world, but a surprising revelation emerges from the biographical examination of the artists; that is the fact that Philip Hale suffered perhaps the greatest artistically as a result of his position as a male during the years surrounding the turn of the century. Historically, gender worked against women as demonstrated by their general exclusion from twentieth century art texts. Nonetheless, both Ellen Day Hale and Lilian Westcott Hale received family support to pursue their careers. As a male, Philip Hale was expected to provide for his family in a respectable fashion, leading him to maintain various instructor positions, to write books and articles about the state of art, and to lecture widely about the history of art. He provided for his family through these various means, insisting that Lilian take time for her art, even though he struggled to find time for his own creative work. The three artists struggled to balance art and life, and it is an intriguing consideration that the male in the group faced the greatest obstacles in pursuing his own creative endeavors.
The following excerpts indicate the revealing nature of their correspondence: On the subject of art education in Paris, Ellen Day Hale wrote in 1882: "It is of course a great disadvantage that we girls have the professor but once a week, while the men have rather better professors twice a week..."
And in 1887: "I should not advise a woman to join it or any other mixed [sex] class...We women are always, I think, charged higher prices than the men...Boulanger, who is very severe with the men, is said to be easier with the women, probably out of indifference."
Lilian Westcott Hale's mother wrote to her daughter: "I long to have your brush inspired that it may do those great things that you think it takes a long time of practice and experience for the hand to become responsive to the thought--but it's coming, Honey, and I hope I shall live to see your work recognized as great."
Philip Leslie Hale wrote to Lilian Westcott while courting her: "I want what is best for you. If you feel you want a year or two of foreign study--well--it's all right...It all rests with you dearest. Only don't worry about it. Whichever way you decide is all right. What you desire is right. Why try to decide at all just now? Just let things slide till it's borne in on you just what you want to do. My great and chiefest feeling is that I don't want you, in the years to come, to look back, and in your heart of hearts regret...I want you to feel that you've had a first rate show and haven't been interfered with--not to feel that 'it might have been.'"