Pauline Lennard Palmer was born in McHenry, Illinois in 1867. As a young woman, Palmer was schooled in a convent in Milwaukee and later attended the Art Institute in Chicago. Travel to Paris provided study under artists Simon, Collin, and Courtois.
In 1891, she married Dr. Albert Palmer of Chicago, who encouraged her development as an artist. The Palmers maintained a summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Palmer made friends with many of the Portuguese fishermen's families. Several of them, especially the children, became subjects for her later works. She also studied at this time with Charles Hawthorne. Following Dr. Palmer's death in 1920, the artist spent much of her time in a private studio in Cape Cod.
Palmer was involved in numerous organizations. She was a member of the Chicago Municipal Art League, Chicago Art Guild, a charter member of the Chicago Women's Salon, and a director of the Chicago Drama League. In 1918, she was elected the first woman President of the Chicago Society of Artists. She also served as President of The Art Institute Alumni Association in 1927, and as President of the Chicago Association of Painters and Sculptors from 1929 until 1931.
Palmer has also exhibited widely during her lifetime, with the earliest showing in 1898, and later at expositions in Buffalo (1901), St. Louis (1904), and San Francisco (1915). Starting in 1899, she exhibited annually at the Art Institute of Chicago for 27 years, where she became a legend by winning nearly all of the museum's major awards, purchase prizes, and honorable mention citations.
In 1938, Palmer and her sister, Marie Lennard, traveled on an "artist's tour" of England and Scandinavian countries. She became ill in Trondheim, Norway and died there on August 15th of pneumonia. Obituaries celebrating her lifetime of artistic achievement called her "Chicago's Painter Lady".
ARTWORK: Pauline Palmer
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