Shore, Henrietta (1880–1963)

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Shore, Henrietta (1880–1963)

Canadian-born American painter. Born in 1880 in Toronto, Canada; died in 1963 in Carmel, California; studied at the Art Students League in New York City and at Heatherley's Art School in London.

Born into a large family in Toronto, Canada, in 1880, painter Henrietta Shore first studied art under Laura Muntz in Toronto. As a young woman, she began spending part of each year in New York City, studying at the Art Students League. There, she was taught by William Merrit Chase and, after 1902, by Robert Henri, who proved a lasting influence as she developed a modernist style of abstracted realism. Shore's tendency to paint closeup studies of objects with attention to vibrant color and fluid lines, rather than detail, drew comparisons with her contemporary Georgia O'Keeffe ; for a time, Shore would be considered by many the superior painter of the two. In 1913, she moved to the West Coast where she quickly made a name for herself as an innovator in West Coast art. Only two years later, she won a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Diego, and this plus her role in establishing the Los Angeles Society of Modern Artists cemented her reputation. In 1918, Shore and Helena Dunlap were given a two-woman exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum.

Shore returned to New York City in 1921, and shortly thereafter a retrospective of her work was held at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. She was honored as one of 25 representatives of American art in Paris in 1924, and in 1925 was a founding member of the New York Society of Women Artists, led by Marguerite Thompson Zorach . Her time in New York City produced such semi-abstract works as Source and The unfolding of life, although as the decade progressed, she turned more and more to simplified landscapes of rock formations, shells and desert plants. One such study inspired modernist photographer Edward Weston, a close friend, to duplicate her work in his photography. The result created quite a stir in the American photographic community.

Shore began living in the art colony at Carmel, California, in 1930. She taught art and painted throughout the decade, although opportunities for her to exhibit fell off sharply after 1933. While she was commissioned to paint six public murals in California by the Treasury Relief Art Project in 1936 (one series of which can still be seen at the Santa Cruz Post Office), her art declined in popularity during the Depression, and she was soon living in poverty. Shore was committed to an asylum for a time near the end of the 1950s, and died in 1963 in Carmel.


Bailey, Brooke. The Remarkable Lives of 100 Women Artists. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams, 1994.

Dunford, Penny. A Biographical Dictionary of Women Artists in Europe and America Since 1850. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.

Ginger Strand , Ph.D., New York City

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