place of birth: United States of America , San Francisco
place of death: United States of America , Windham
In the autobiography she wrote late in life, Louise Cox dismissed most of her childhood. "Although I was born in 1865 in San Francisco," she noted, "it was not until sixteen years later that I started to live, for in 1881 I entered the National Academy of Design" (AAA 3060, fr. 102). As a young student, she worked under Lemuel Wilmarth, drawing from the antique for two school years. At age eighteen, she switched to the Art Students League, where her teachers included George de Forest Brush, Charles Yardley Turner, and J. Alden Weir. In 1884, when the league's women's class was to receive a new instructor, the young artist worried that it might be J. Carroll Beckwith, who had a reputation for disliking female students. But it was Kenyon Cox who arrived to lead he class. He took an interest in his pupil's work and in the pupil; in 1892, after a lengthy courtship, they wed. Cox's first major success came in 1893, when she exhibited a small figure painting, Psyche (unlocated), at the Society of American Artists' annual exhibition. That same year the society elected her a member. The National Academy honored her with a Julius Hallgarten Prize in 1896 for Pomona, but it was another six years before she was elected an Associate. Cox first specialized in allegorical figures, but their failure to attract buyers reportedly turned her toward portraits of children (Isham). It was in this genre that she made her reputation, often showing the portraits in Academy annual exhibitions of the early twentieth century. Her paintings were painstakingly worked up from drawings, and she openly criticized women artists who lacked such firm technical discipline (Limner, 6). Cox also was known for her stained-glass designs.
Unframed: 23 1/2 × 15 1/2 in. Framed: 26 × 17 3/4 × 1 3/8 in.
Oil on canvas
National Academy Museum, New York, Bequest of Allyn Cox, 1983
Known for her portraits of children, Cox often painted her own sons, Leonard and Allyn, and daughter, Caroline.