Rachael Robinson Elmer

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An illustration from Caroline Hofman's The Wise Gray Cat (1918), signed "Rachael Robinson Elder".
An illustration from Caroline Hofman's The Wise Gray Cat (1918), signed "Rachael Robinson Elder".
"Flying out of the sky/They came bringing cheeses"; frontispiece of W. E. Griffis, Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks (1918), signed "Rachael Robinson Elmer"

Rachael Robinson Elmer (July 28, 1878 – February 13, 1919), also seen as Rachel Robinson Elmer, was an American artist from Vermont, who gained notability as a painter of postcards of New York City, which "changed the world of American postcards".[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Rachael Robinson was born in 1878 in Rokeby, Vermont (the family home is a National Historic Landmark), into an artistic family: her father Rowland Evans Robinson was an author and illustrator, her mother Anna Stevens Robinson a painter. Her grandparents, Rachel Gilpin Robinson (1799-1862) and Rowland Thomas Robinson (1796-1879), were active abolitionists and founders of the Vermont Anti-Slavery Society, who made their Rokeby home a stop on the Underground Railroad.[2]

In elementary school already she took painting classes in Burlington, and first traveled to New York City, and fell in love with it, at age 12. After graduating from Goddard Seminary in Barre (city), Vermont in 1897,[3] she lived in Burlington where she worked and taught in a studio. She returned to New York when she was 20, and joined the Art Students League. One of the formative influences on her art was Childe Hassam, specifically for his scenes of city life.[1]

Career[edit]

A friend prompted her in 1911 to make a series of postcards portraying the city, and she chose twelve scenes, painting them in impressionistic style. It took her two years to find a publisher, but when she did, "Art Lover’s New York Series" (1914) became an overnight success,[1] selling in "many upscale New York City boutiques",[4] and inspired other artist to likewise paint postcards of city scenes. She published a second series (of only six cards) in 1914, this time in Art Deco style, but with less success.[1] In 1918 she made postcards to raise funds for a church restoration in her hometown.[5]

Rachael Robinson Elmer also illustrated children's books and periodicals,[6] including several works by author Caroline Hofman.[7][8][9] She also made illustrations for William Elliot Griffis's Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks (1918).[10] During World War I, she created posters and was active with the "Bird and Tree Club", raising funds for replanting woodlands in wartorn France.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Rachael Robinson married Robert France Elmer in 1911.[11][12] Rachael Robinson Elmer died of the Spanish flu in early 1919, at age 40.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Williamson, Jane (25 March 2014). "Williamson For Women's History Month: Rachael Robinson Elmer". Vermont Public Radio. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  2. ^ "The Robinson Family" Rokeby Museum website.
  3. ^ "Vermont Author's Daughter Dies" Burlington Weekly Free Press (February 20, 1919): 8. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  4. ^ Levine, Edward J. (2006). Central Park. Arcadia. p. 102. ISBN 9781439618127.
  5. ^ "Vergennes" Burlington Weekly Free Press (January 10, 1918): 1. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  6. ^ a b "Tribute to Vermont Artist" Burlington Free Press (March 7, 1919): 4. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  7. ^ Jane Williamson, "Rachel Robinson Elder" in John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand, Ralph H. Orth, eds., The Vermont Encyclopedia (UPNE 2003): 113. ISBN 9781584650867
  8. ^ Caroline Hofman, The Wise Gray Cat (P. F. Volland 1918).
  9. ^ Caroline Hofman, "A Soldier Brave" St. Nicholas Magazine (February 1918): 372.
  10. ^ William Elliot Griffis, Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks (Thomas Y. Pownell 1918).
  11. ^ John William Leonard, ed., Woman's Who's Who of America (American Commonwealth 1914): 30.
  12. ^ "Robert France Elmer" New York Times (November 19, 1936): 25.
  13. ^ Clifford, Deborah (2009). More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Vermont women. Globe Pequot. pp. 63–73. ISBN 9780762743063.
  14. ^ "Mrs. Elmer Dies" Burlington Weekly Free Press (February 20, 1919): 12. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read