Ruth Payne Burgess

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Ruth Payne Burgess
Born Ruth Payne Jewett
(1865-10-11)October 11, 1865[1]
Montpelier, Vermont
Died March 11, 1934(1934-03-11) (aged 68)
New York, N.Y.
Nationality American
Known for Painting
Spouse(s) John William Burgess (1885-1931, his death)[2]
Ruth Payne Burgess, Young Woman with Violin and Hat, watercolor, 1903
Ruth Payne Burgess, Portrait study of a young woman, (black-and-white image), 1915 Newport Art Exhibition

Ruth Payne Burgess, (October 11, 1865 in Montpelier, Vermont — March 11, 1934 in New York),[3][4] was a naturalistic painter of portraits, still lifes, and genre work.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Ruth Payne Jewett was born in Montpelier, Vermont in 1865,[6] the daughter of Elisha P. Jewett and Julia Kellogg Field Jewett.[7] Her grandparents were Captain Nathan Jewett and Ruth Payne and her great-grandfather was Elisha Payne.[8] She attended school in Northampton, Massachusetts at the Mary A. Burnham School.[7]

Ruth Payne Jewett met John William Burgess in Vermont through a mutual friend, artist Thomas Waterman Wood.[9] Burgess founded the Columbia University's political science department.[6] She married John Williams Burgess on September 2, 1885.[6][10] Burgess was previously married on August 24, 1869 to Augusta Thayer Jones,[10] who died in 1884.[9]

She was described as an artist who was "highly intelligent, well educated, and an accomplished musician."[9] Ruth and her husband had one child,[10] Elisha Payne Jewett Burgess,[11] and in 1905 had houses in New York City and Montpelier, Vermont.[12] After John Burgess retired from Columbia, the couple lived in Newport, Rhode Island in a house named "Athenwood" and in Brookline, Massachusetts.[7][11]

John William Burgess died of a heart attack in Brookline, Massachusetts on January 13, 1931.[10][11] Ruth Payne Burgess died in March 1934 and her funeral was held on March 14. It was interrupted when her son, Elisha, a mining engineer, was arraigned after evading arrest for non-payment of spousal and child support for three years. Following the funeral her body was taken to a crematory in New Jersey.[13]


She studied at Barnard College, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League of New York[5] under George de Forest Brush, Kenyon Cox, and James Carroll Beckwith.[2] She also studied in Europe and made paintings in Italy and Germany, where she painted the portrait of Prince August Wilhelm.[6][7][nb 1]


Burgess painted portraits, including Nicholas Murray Butler, the president of Columbia University; A. Barton Hepburn; and Admiral Charles E. Clark.[7]

Her work was shown in nine exhibitions at the National Academy of Design from 1897 to 1906 as well as from 1924 to 1933.[14] A report of the Newport Annual Exhibition in 1915 records a visitor as saying, "The picture I like best is this head by Mrs. Burgess, it's more natural and lifelike than any picture in the whole show".[15] Her work contains orientalist themes.

In 1899 Burgess joined the National Association of Women Artists and the Woman's Art Club of New York, where she served as the organization's president from 1905 to 1910 and contributed to its financial growth.[16][17] She was able to call on friends for money as well as make personal donations. Her donation of five hundred dollars contributed to the association offering a one hundred dollar prize for five years. Burgess was also president of the Art Students League for a period of time.[2]

Additionally, Burgess was a member of groups such as the Academy of Fine Arts of Hartford, the American Water Color Society, the Society of New York Painters, and the Allied Artists of America. Burgess was a patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[18]



  1. ^ Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia was born in 1887 and was the fourth son of William II, German Emperor, but the Smithsonian stated that she made a portrait of Price August William, second son of the kaiser.[6] The second son of the kaiser was Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, born in 1883.


  1. ^ Frederic Clarke Jewett (1908). History and genealogy of the Jewetts of America: a record of Edward Jewett, of Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, and of his two emigrant sons, Deacon Maximilian and Joseph Jewett, settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts, in 1639; also of Abraham and John Jewett, early settlers of Rowley, and of the Jewetts who have settled in the United States since the year 1800. The Grafton press. p. 401. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Louise and Alan Sellars Collection of Art by American Women; Paul E. Sternberg (1989). Centennial Exhibition, 1889-1989. Louise and Alan Sellars Collection of Art by American Women. p. 142. Retrieved 22 July 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "WomenSternberg1989" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "WomenSternberg1989" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ Who's who in American Art. R. R. Bowker. 1935. p. 626. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Louise and Alan Sellars Collection of Art by American Women; Brenau College (1991). Art by American women: selections from the collection of Louise and Alan Sellars : Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia, April 20-June 15, 1991 and other selected locations. Louise and Alan Sellars Collection of Art by American Women. p. 88. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Ruth P. Burgess 2D Engaged to Marry: Former Art Student Will Be Wed to Walter E. A. Jaeggi, Swiss Vice Consul Here". New York Times. 1945-09-16. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Ruth Payne Burgess. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved March 17. 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Albert Nelson Marquis. Who's who in New England: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men and Women of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. A.N. Marquis; 1915. p. 185.
  8. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution. Lineage Book. The Society; 1897. p. 175.
  9. ^ a b c Joseph A. Citro. Green Mountains, Dark Tales. UPNE; 1 April 2001. ISBN 978-1-58465-134-5. p. 72.
  10. ^ a b c d John F. Ohles. Biographical Dictionary of American Educators. Greenwood Publishing Group; 1978. ISBN 978-0-313-04012-2. p. 204.
  11. ^ a b c Jan Onofrio. Tennessee Biographical Dictionary. North American Book Dist LLC; 1 June 1999. ISBN 978-0-403-09700-5. p. 142.
  12. ^ American Art Annual. MacMillan Company; 1905. p. 334.
  13. ^ "Funeral Halted as Woman Hales Husband to Court." Reading Eagle, March 15, 1934, p. 28.
  14. ^ Sternberg, Paul E. (1991). Art by American Women:selections from the collection of Louise and Alan Sellars. p. 88. 
  15. ^ Art and Progress. American Federation of Arts. 1915. p. 407. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Ronald G. Pisano; Nassau County Museum of Fine Art (N.Y.); National Association of Women Artists (U.S.) (1988). One hundred years: a centennial celebration of the National Association of Women Artists. Nassau County Museum of Fine Art. p. 10. Retrieved 22 July 2013. When Ruth Payne Burgess assumed the position of president of the Club in 1905 it was a solidly established organization with a ... 
  17. ^ American Art Directory. R.R. Bowker. 1905. p. 230. 
  18. ^ "Mrs. J. W. Burgess, Noted Artist, Dead". New york Times. Mar 12, 1934. 
  19. ^ Green China Jar. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  20. ^ Floral and Chinoiserie still life. Live Auctioners. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  21. ^ Floral Still Life. Mutual Art. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  22. ^ Maderno, Lake of Garda, Italy,. Mutual Art. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  23. ^ Poppy in a Vase. Red Carpet Antiques. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  24. ^ Portrait of a Gentleman. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c d e American Art Directory. R.R. Bowker.; 1918. p. 442.
  26. ^ Anne Sebba. Jennie Churchill: Winston's American mother. John Murray; December 2007. ISBN 978-0-7195-6339-3. p. 272.
  27. ^ Art and Progress. American Federation of Arts; 1915. Newport's Annual Exhibition. p. 407.
  28. ^ Young Woman with Violin. Live Auctioners. Retrieved March 17, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arlington Galleries. Recent Paintings by Ruth Payne Burgess and Alethea H. Platt. Arlington Galleries; 1923.