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Annie I. Crawford

(1856-1942)

Annie I. Crawford (1956-1942) was an American painter associated with the Arts & Crafts Movement. Together with her partner in life and art-making, Charlotte “Emma” Wharton Kaan (1860-1949), she created collaborative paintings and developed an innovative new technique for creating inexpensive reproductions of their work. [1]

Crawford was born in Buffalo, N.Y. on November 3, 1857. Her father's success as a businessman (his Crawford & Sons firm produced headstones and memorials for wealthy Buffalo families) enabled her to study with Lars G. Sellstedt (1819-1911), a key figure in the local arts community, from 1868 to 1870.

On a trip to Europe, most likely in 1889, she met fellow artist Kaan, with whom she eventually began a relationship spanning more than four decades.  In the late 1890s Kaan moved to Buffalo, where the duo remained for the rest of their lives together. They often worked on paintings together and both signed them, an unusual practice for the time.

Crawford and Kaan were responsible for a technical innovation when, around 1902, they developed a new process of reproducing original drawings so that the finished, hand-colored print resembled a watercolor and was less expensive to purchase. They also experimented with using photography to replicate their work.

The two artists were good friends with the Arts & Crafts artist Charles Rohlfs, and he provided them with frames for many of their paintings. In return, they sometimes used him and members of his family as subjects.

Crawford and Kaan shared studio and teaching space as well as living quarters. They had paintings and prints exhibited at the then-new Albright Art Gallery and in various private collections throughout the city. Upon their deaths, much of their work was lost and they were buried in separate cities. Annie Crawford, despite her family's business, was not given a headstone.

 

For more information on Emma Kaan, see Michael L. James & David F. Martin, "Intimate Spirits: Remembering the Art and Lives of Annie Crawford & Emma Kaan," Western New York Heritage, Fall 2007 (print edition only), and Mark Strong, "Annie Crawford," http://www.meibohmfinearts.com/artists.aspx?ID=52.

 

[1] Biographical information adapted from Michael L. James and David F. Martin and Mark Strong, references cited above.