Can you name 5 women artists? It turns out, most people can’t. This simple question calls attention to the inequity women artists face, inspires conversation, and brings awareness to a larger audience. As a part of the #5WomenArtists initiative through the National Museum of Women in the Arts and in celebration of Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting women artists in the Cummer Collection. Museum founder Ninah Cummer was a supporter of women artists. Each of the artists we are highlighting this month will be from the original 60 pieces of artwork donated by Ninah Cummer, that are the foundation of our collection. To learn more about women artists, follow the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or follow #5WomenArtists. This post is the third of five that will be published this month as part of our #5WomenArtists series.
Mrs. Ninah Cummer (1875 – 1958) had her portrait painted in 1927, when she was in her early fifties. The artist, Alice Kent Stoddard (1885 – 1976), was born in Watertown, Connecticut, but left her hometown to study at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design), and at the renowned Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under the guidance of famous artists Thomas Eakins (1844 – 1916) and William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916).
Kent Stoddard was commissioned by many prominent Philadelphians, and soon gained a reputation as the city’s foremost portrait painter. Artist Rockwell Kent (1882 – 1971), Stoddard’s first cousin, once said “she is the finest portrait painter this country has ever seen.”
She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Mary Smith Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1911 and 1913, and the Isidor medal from the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1917. Kent Stoddard was the first woman artist to be named in Who’s Who in American Art. Not only was she one of the most prominent women artists of the early 20th century, she also aided young, aspiring artists who could not afford an education.
This portrait of Mrs. Cummer, along with that of her husband, Mr. Arthur Cummer, by Everett Raymond Kinstler, was restored in 2016. Thanks to the generous support of donors Jim and Joan Van Vleck and Helen Lane, visitors can now appreciate the original vibrancy of both paintings. The conservation treatment was carried out by ArtCare, in Miami.
Alice Kent Stoddard (American, 1884 – 1976), Portrait of Mrs. Ninah M. H. Cummer, 1927, oil on canvas, 40 x 35 in., Bequest of Ninah M. H. Cummer, C.0.166.