Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alice Woods Ullman (1871-1959)

Author, illustrator, poster artist, and painter Alice Woods was born in Goshen, Indiana, on November 22, 1871. She attended the Girls Classical School of Indianapolis, the Indiana School of Art under William Forsyth and T.C. Steele, and the Shinnecock Summer School of Art under William Merritt Chase. She continued her art education at the Art Students League, the New York School of Art, and the Académie Colarossi in Paris. Her experiences as an art student in Paris gave her the material she needed for a novel, Fame Seekers, published in 1912.

Alice spent almost two decades in Paris and knew Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Margaret Cravens, and other members of the American art community. She married the painter Eugene Paul Ullman (1877-1953), another Chase student and a near lifelong expatriate. Together they had two sons, sculptor Allen Ullman and painter/illustrator Paul Ullman. After separating from her husband in 1914, Alice Woods Ullman returned to the United States and was associated with the artistic crowd in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Greenwich Village, New York.

Alice Woods wrote and illustrated stories for The Century, McClure’s, Pearson’s, The Smart Set, and other magazines. She also wrote six novels: Edges (1902), A Gingham Rose (1904),  Fame Seekers (1912), The Thicket (1913), The Hairpin Duchess (1924), and The Gilded Caravan (1927). In the Fame Seekers, Alice wrote: "Modern life has produced nothing more interesting, more charming or more alarming than the American girl," a sure indication of her interest in women’s stories and women’s themes. Perhaps she offered a commentary on her own marriage when she wrote that if the American girl, studying in Paris, ends "by marrying, [then] heaven help the man, for it is with the secret gnawing of compromise or condescension."

Alice Woods Ullman was a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the National Arts Club, the Woman’s Art Club of New York, and the Portfolio Club of Indianapolis. She died on July 24, 1959, in New York City.

The frontispiece of Alice Wood Ullman's 1904 novel, A Gingham Rose, created by the author herself. The drawing has a poster-like quality and is clearly influenced by the art nouveau style. It should come as no surprise that Alice was also a poster artist.
And a small monotype of eucalyptus trees, signed "Alice Woods," made perhaps before she was married to the painter Eugene Ullman. 

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley


  1. I have a 1904 edition of "A Gingham Rose" by Alice Woods Ullman that is in fair condition. Pub: The Bobbs-Merrill Book Company . Any idea of the value?

  2. Hi, Anonymous,

    I can't say what value the book might have. You could always compare it to books of a similar type from the same period. Good luck.