Fidelia Bridges

Fidelia Bridges
Fidelia Bridges, circa 1864
Born May 19, 1834
Salem, Massachusetts,
United States
Died 1923
Canaan, Connecticut,
United States
Nationality American
Field Painting

Fidelia Bridges (May 19, 1834 – 1923) was one of the small number of successful female artists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She painted small aspects of nature: flowers, birds, and other plants in their natural settings. She first was an oil painter and later took up watercolor painting. She was known for her delicately detailed paintings. She was considered an expert and specialist in watercolor painting. She was the only woman in the group of seven notable 19th-century artists in the American Watercolor Society.

Life and education

Fidelia Bridges was born in Salem, Massachusetts, to a sea captain and his wife. She was orphaned by age fifteen after her mother and father died approximately six years apart. She was then supported by an older sister. She became a mother's helper in the household of William Augustus Brown who was a Salem ship-holder.[1] In 1854 the Browns moved to Brooklyn, New York. Bridges and her sisters moved with them. She lived with the Browns in order to take care of the children, but she also opened a school with her sisters.[1]

Bridges later studied art, after being inspired by sculptress Anne Whitney, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia with William Trost Richards and became very close to his family.[1] He was a Pre-Raphaelite advocate and her style was greatly influenced by him. After the American Civil War she studied for a year in Europe, but later returned to The United States in the 1860s.[1] This was a time when water coloring was a very respected style and she quickly gained popularity with her exquisite depictions of flowers and birds. She was considered a specialist in her field and focused on the beauty and serenity of small bits of nature. In 1876, many of her paintings were reproduced and sold by publisher and lithographer Louis Prang. This success eventually led to a job as a designer for Prang's firm. For this job Bridges designed Christmas cards and she kept the job until 1899.[1] She moved to Connecticut in the early 1890s and led a quiet lifestyle.

In her lifetime, Bridges became Associate of the National Academy of Design and a member of The American Society of Painters in Watercolor (now The American Watercolor Society). She was the only female artist out of seven famous 19th-century American artists in this society. She exhibited her work sporadically from 1863 until 1908. Bridges died in 1923 in Canaan, Connecticut, at the age of eighty-nine.[1]



External links

  • Fidelia Bridges artworks at The Athenaeum
  • Fidelia Bridges at Union List of Artist Names, Getty Research Institute

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