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2 Paintings in Collection

Georgia Engelhard


(1906 - 1986) United States / Switzerland

Works in Public Collections

Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL

Recent Exhibitions:

Georgia Engelhard and Elaine Hamilton: Climbing Mountains, Birmingham Museum of Art, 2021-22

The Pursuit of Abstraction, The Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach, FL, 2016. Traveled to The Baker Museum, Naples, FL, 2017

Abstraction and Lake included

Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Boise Art Museum, Idaho, 2002

Abstraction and Lake included

Women of the Stieglitz Circle, Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Sante Fe, NM, 1998

Uncovered and Recovered: Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Ketchum, ID, 1999

Abstraction and Lake included

Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle, Kathleen A. Pyne, University of California Press, 2007

Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition: The Jeri L. Waxenberg Collection, by Kristin Poole, JLW Collection, 2002

Uncovered and Recovered: Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Kristin Poole, Curator, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Ketchum, ID, 1999

Women of the Stieglitz Circle, 1906-1946, by Suzan Campbell, exhibition brochure, Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Sante Fe, NM, 1998

Off The Beaten Track: Women Adventurers and Mountaineers in Western Canada, Cyndi Smith, Coyote Books, 1989

Born 1906 New York, NY
Died 1986 Interlaken, Switzerland

Georgia Engelhard was the first child of George Engelhard and Agnes Stieglitz. It is as the niece of photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Modernism’s most successful early booster in the United States, that Engelhard’s artistic career was encouraged. The family spent summers together at their estate on Lake George and Georgia enjoyed bantering with her uncle who engaged her as well, teaching her to play poker. From the age of 12 to 22 Engelhard corresponded very regularly with Stieglitz who served as a confidant and mentor to the young woman.

Engelhard occasionally posed for Stieglitz as a child and a young woman and painted often alongside O’Keeffe. She first showed her artwork at Stieglitz’s gallery, 291, when she was 8 years old in 1914 and again in 1916 at age 10 when she exhibited paintings and drawings alongside her aunt, Georgia O’Keeffe. Stieglitz’s motivation to show his niece’s work was more than likely a response to Wassily Kandinsky’s proposition that there was a fundamental spirituality to be found in true art and that children’s art had the ability to convey this “inner truth.”

It is under the tutelage of O’Keeffe, that Engelhard matured as a painter. In biographies Engelhard is repeatedly mentioned as O’Keeffe’s friend and companion. Georgia Minor, as Engelhard was called, served as comic release for the older artist who often found Stieglitz and his family oppressive. The two artists frequently painted together at Stieglitz’s summer house on Lake George and occasionally took excursions together.

Engelhard’s paintings reflect O’Keeffe’s strong influence—flat areas of pure color and sensuous curves are used to define the landscape. In both Abstraction and in Lake we see Engelhard’s enthusiasm for color and drama. The mountains are anything but static; undulating curves and contrasting colors provide an energy that is in keeping with the modernists’ enthusiasm for nature. Engelhard’s landscapes are more traditionally comprehensive than O’Keeffe’s, who tended to focus in on an object or form.

Engelhard enrolled at Vassar College in 1923. During her college summers she traveled with her family to Western Europe, Holland and South America but after three years at Vassar she felt she was wasting her time and she was eager to pursue her art. Engelhard transferred to Teacher’s College at Columbia University, where O’Keeffe had studied. There she took an array of art classes.

Engelhard recognized fairly early on that her painting style was similar to O’Keeffe’s but she was unable to find a different approach that suited her. Eventually she migrated from painting to photography, a pursuit that her uncle encouraged. Engelhard studied at New York Institute of Photography and the School of Modern Photography. She experienced success, selling her images to the large formal photo magazines Life, Look, and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as to National Geographic.

Despite a paralyzing fear of heights, Engelhard became a premier mountain climber at the age of 20 and was the first female climber to ascend many of the peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Her father was a climber and it was on a trip to Mount Rainier in 1926 with him that she began to understand the allure of the mountains. Her determination to overcome her fear quickly evolved into a passion for the mountains that lasted throughout her lifetime. She spent many decades climbing around the world but preferred the Canadian Rockies. Stieglitz’s biographer, Sue Davidson Lowe, believes that Lake is an impression of Lake Louise with Mt. Victoria in the background, a location where the artist often climbed. Abstraction may be a scene recalled from her numerous climbs in the Swiss Alps.

Engelhard soon became the leading female amateur climber of her day. In 1935 on her first climb in the Alps she met Oliver Eaton (Tony) Cromwell, a highly experienced mountaineer (who became a member of the 1939 failed German-American expedition up the peak of K2). After that initial meeting, Cromwell and Engelhard climbed together for years, eventually marrying in 1947. Cromwell was also a photographer and in the mid 1930s, Engelhard stopped painting and the couple pursued photography.

They lived in New York but moved to Zermatt, Switzerland in 1955. While living in Switzerland they sold a number of their pictures to postcard companies. They also wrote travel articles and lectured on mountaineering. In the early 1970s they recognized that they were getting too old to climb and ski regularly so they left Zermatt and moved to Interlaken. Throughout most of her 70s Georgia remained fit and athletic, walking 8km a day.

There are very few of Georgia Engelhard’s paintings in existence today and even fewer photographs that have been located. When one of Engelhard’s paintings does appear, there is often a dispute about whether the canvas comes from O’Keeffe’s hands or Engelhard’s. For such an accomplished artist it is shame that so little has been discovered, and references to her are mostly made in relationship to O’Keeffe. Unfortunately, Engelhard’s disappearance as an artist of record is indicative of what occurred in the middle and later part of the twentieth century when the work of many women artists was dismissed as less important and thus less valuable. Perhaps in the current moment, when museums and art institutions are beginning to recover the work of women and other neglected minority voices, we will learn more about Georgia Englehard as an artist in her own right.

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