Sunday, March 29, 2015

Elizabeth Driggs Bacon (1881-1928)

Elizabeth "Beth" Driggs was born on February 1, 1881, in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1902 to 1905, she taught Saturday classes for children at the Herron School of Art in her home city. That's where she met her future husband, Louis A. Bacon, an art student and supervisor of manual training in the elementary schools of Indianapolis. In 1912, Louis Bacon resigned his position to take a job with Atkinson, Mentzer and Grover, a publisher of textbooks and other books based in Chicago. (Harry E. Wood succeeded him in his position with the Indianapolis schools.) The change came not long after Elizabeth Driggs and Louis A. Bacon were married on June 17, 1911, in Indianapolis. The couple had one daughter, Honoria.

Elizabeth Driggs studied at the Art Students League under William Merritt Chase; at the Art Institute of Chicago under John Johansen, Martha Baker, Frederick Richardson, Frederick Warren Freer, and John Vanderpoel; and at the Brandywine School under Howard Pyle. Baker, Vanderpoel, and Pyle died in in the same year, 1911.

Elizabeth Driggs Bacon was a painter of portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. She also created large, decorative scenes from mythology. She exhibited in Indianapolis and Richmond and in Chicago with the Hoosier Salon. Elizabeth won prizes at the Hoosier Salon and at the Indiana State Fair in 1926. The latter was first prize for a poster in color. The titles of her paintings exhibited at the Hoosier Salon include "The Apple Tree," "Theft of the Grapes," "Gazelles," and "The Boar Hunt." She was also a member of several art organizations.

In 1922, Elizabeth Driggs Bacon co-founded Orchard Country Day School, an experimental first grade in Indianapolis. One of the other co-founders of the school, Mary Stewart Carey, donated her home and apple orchard, located at 5050 North Meridian Street, for the school. It is still in operation as The Orchard School and is located at 615 West 64th Street.

In addition to being a teacher and artist, Elizabeth Driggs Bacon was a writer and editor. Her subject of course was art. In 1922, she served as art critic for the Indianapolis News. From 1926 to her unexpected death in 1928, she wrote the weekly newsletter and edited the monthly bulletin of the John Herron Art Institute.

Elizabeth Driggs Bacon died eighty-seven years ago this month, on March 15, 1928, in Indianapolis. She was just forty-seven years old.

A very poor image of art by Elizabeth Driggs Bacon. Images of her art are otherwise unavailable to me.

Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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