Gabrielle DeVaux Clements (Pennsylvania – South Carolina, 1858-1948)

Born into a prominent Charleston, SC family descended from Revolutionary War hero Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, Gabrielle DeVaux Clements held a long professional career as muralist, oil painter, educator, and master etcher. Having studied under such artists as Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia and William Bouguereau in Paris, she also educated aspiring artists such as Margaret Leslie Bush-Brown during her long tenure at Bryn Mawr School. Clements produced iconic scenes of Europe and the Middle East during her extensive travels with lifelong companion and fellow painter Ellen Day Hale, however; due to the outbreak of World War I they returned to the United States and began spending winters in Charleston, South Carolina. This would begin their long affiliation with Charleston where they would inspire a new generation of Southern women artists. Always the consummate mentor, in 1917 she told future leading Charleston Renaissance painter Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, “I want to leave Charleston some of my skills. Get together a group so you can buy a printing press and I will show you how to use it. I will teach you so you can teach them.” The subsequent founding of the Charleston Etchers Club and it’ numerous sponsored exhibitions led to widespread national circulation of views of Charleston through prints in newspapers, magazines, and books. Although she exhibited extensively in major expositions and was clearly a professional artist highly regarded by her peers, Clements, like most of her female colleagues, received only occasional attention from critics. She was well known to be an active, energetic, and forceful figure in the arts evidenced in an 1889 letter in which her friend and fellow artist, Cecilia Beaux describes Clements’ strong character by writing that “neither a bout with poor health nor disappointments would ever cause Clements the supreme wretchedness of thinking herself a failure.”

 

Studied

Philadelphia School of Design for Women With Charles Page

Cornell University

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Thomas Eakins

Etching with Stephen Parrish in Philadelphia

Academie Julian with William Bouguereau and Tony Fluery

 

Member

Fellow, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art

Chicago Society of Etchers

North Shore Art Association

Charleston Etchers Club

Society of Washington Artists

Rockport Art Association

Folly Cove Etchers

 

Work

St. Patrick’s Church , Washington D.C.

St. Paul’s Chapel, Baltimore, MD

St. Mathew’s Church, Sparrow Point, MD

Trinity Church, Townson, MD

St. Joseph’s Church, Detroit, MI

Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville, KY

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

National Museum of American Art

National Museum of American History

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

New York Public Library

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Greenville County Museum of Art

 

Exhibited

Boston Art Club 1884, 1886, 1894, 1895

National Academy of Design 1884-1895

Paris Salon, 1885

Ohio Valley Centennial, 1888

Union League Club, NYC, 1888

“Woman Etchers of America” NYC, 1888

Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893

Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904

Corcoran Biennials, 1921-1926

Sesquicentennial International Expo, Philadelphia 1926

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1927

J.B. Speed Museum, 1935

Art Institute of Chicago

Goodspeed’s in Boston

Smithsonian Institution

Library of Congress

Society of Independent Artists

Renaissance Rockport Art Association

Folly Cove Etchers

North Shore Art Association

(and in many more expositions and institutions)

 

References

Falk, (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art

Severens, The Charleston

Heller, North American Women Artists of the 20th Century

Opitz, Mantle Fielding's Dictionary

Marlor, The Society of Independent Artists

Lang, Etched, in Memory

Fink, American Art at the Nineteenth Century Paris Salons

Carr, Revisiting the White City