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Peggy Bacon

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Peggy Bacon

American, (1895–1987)
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A print maker, illustrator, and author of children's books, Peggy Bacon later turned exclusively to fine art painting in watercolor, pastel, and oil. Her 1934 book of caricatures, "Off With Their Heads," established her as a leading satirist.

Much of her work is satirical and lighthearted and frequently a commentary on the New York art world in the 1920s and 1930s. She also chose many ordinary events in the lives of city people, giving these pieces a wry twist.

She was born in Ridgefield, Connecticut to artist parents, Charles Roswell Bacon and Elizabeth Chase, and spent much time in her youth with her parents seeking painting locations. They visited in Nassau, New Hampshire, France and London, and she also had an opportunity to meet many of her parents' artist friends.

She studied at the Art Student's League between 1914 and 1920. There in her drypoints, first completed in 1919, she was especially influenced by the realistic prints of her teachers John Sloan and George Bellows, but her style, with flattened forms and hardened contours, was more modern and abstract.

In 1920, she married artist Alexander Brook, whom she had met at the Art Students League, and during the next decade they spent time in Provincetown, Rode Island and Greenwich Village in New York City and were prominent figures in the Woodstock art colony.

During the 1920s, she had two one-woman shows in New York and also illustrated and wrote numerous children's books. A satirical work by her on thirty-nine well known fellow artists, written in 1934 and called "Off With Their Heads," was funded by the Guggenheim Foundation. The book was greatly successful and stirred a demand for her caricatures, but she shied away from those subjects because they were hurtful to the subjects.

In the late 1920s, she had began to explore lithographs, etchings, and pastel, but drypoint remained her favorite medium until the 1950s when she concentrated on oil painting.

She was financially successful, selling her work well in New York, and she and her husband were part of the group of artists promoted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. In 1940, she and her husband were divorced, and she continued to paint and also wrote novels. Her 1953 mystery, "The Inward Eye," earned the Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Award for best novel of the year. She lived to age ninety-two, spending the later years of her life at Cape Porpoise, Maine near her son, Alexander.


Charlotte Rubinstein, "American Women Artists"
Paul Sternberg, Sr., "Art by American Women"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

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