Lilian Westcott Hale (1880-1963)

Lilian Westcott Hale (1880-1963)

Lilian Westcott Hale came to Boston after William Merritt Chase encouraged her to further pursue her studies in fine art.  Hale had attended Chase’s Summer School in Shinnecock, Long Island while a student of the Hartford Art School in 1899, and then followed his suggestion to enter the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She enrolled in an advanced painting class with Edmund Tarbell and was first introduced to faculty member Philip Hale in 1901, marrying the older artist just a year later.  Philip was fifteen years her senior and already a well-established professional artist and teacher in the Boston area.  Acting as her mentor, Philip encouraged and supported Lilian’s considerable talent, and in 1905 they moved into two adjacent studios at the Fenway Studios on Ipswich Street, numbers 210 and 211.

Contact Vose about this artist
Read more about this artist...

Lilian’s work flourished after completing her studies at the Museum School.  In 1908, she held her first solo exhibition comprised entirely of drawings at Rowlands Gallery in Boston, and was applauded by collectors and artists alike for her carefully drafted charcoal and pastel compositions.  Hale sold a number of the drawings to fellow artists, including William Paxton, Edmund Tarbell and Gretchen Rogers. Most of the figural pieces featured Hale’s favorite model of the time, Rose Zeffler, whose delicate features complimented Hale’s unique charcoal technique.  According to Erica Hirshler’s dissertation on the artist, Hale acquired a number of hats and cloaks from painter Howard Gardiner Cushing, which she used to dress Zeffy.  

Hale’s exhibition circle included a range of Boston venues, such as the Guild of Boston Artists, the St. Botolph Club, the Copley Society, and the Boston Art Club, as well as such New York locations as Arlington and Grand Central Galleries.  She was particularly praised for her expressive portraits of children, executed in a manner characteristic of the Boston School tradition, but often with a granulated surface reminiscent of pastel work.  Awarded both nationally and locally, the artist won a bronze medal in the Buenos Aires International Exhibition in 1910, a gold medal and medal of honor for drawing in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ Beck prize in 1923, and prizes from the National Academy of Design in 1924 and 1927.

After the birth of their daughter Nancy in 1908, the Hales rented and then purchased a home in Dedham, Massachusetts.  A few renovations converted a large parlor into a multi-windowed studio for Lilian.  Their home, “Sandy Down,” acted as the setting for many of Lilian’s interior scenes, and even her neighborhood landscape and its occupants became her subjects. A devoted mother, Lilian still managed to show her work extensively in local and national exhibitions and was rewarded with full membership to the National Academy in 1931. Sadly, her husband died that same year and this event greatly depleted her ambition. As she grew older, Lilian contentedly worked on portraits of her family, often summering in Rockport, Massachusetts, with her sister-in-law and finally settling in Virginia in 1955 to be closer to her daughter during her last years of life. 

References: Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1999; Erica Hirshler, “Lilian Westcott Hale,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston University, 1992.  

Available Work