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Virginia Cuthbert: A Selection of Works

On View Saturday, August 13–Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Burchfield Penney Art Center presented a small exhibition of paintings by the versatile artist Virginia Cuthbert Elliott, who used her maiden name professionally. The selection drew from works in the collection, including a recent acquisition and a promised gift (at that time), as well as works from private collections.


Cuthbert was one of Buffalo’s most revered artists from her generation, known for her proficiency as a painter and her spirited camaraderie as a friend. Born in West Newton, Pennsylvania in 1908, she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Syracuse University in 1926 and a fellowship to study abroad. From 1930 to 1931 she studied in Europe, where she met her future husband, Philip C. Elliott, in Paris. In 1941 the couple moved from Pittsburgh to Buffalo, and Cuthbert became a painting instructor at the Albright Art School, the University of Buffalo, and later at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Cuthbert studied with artists – including Charles Hawthorne, Colin Gill, George Luks, andAlexander Kostellow – working in a range of styles. Her work initially was stylistically aligned with the Ash Can School; however, she is best known for her interpretation of a style referred to as Magic Realism.


The Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery represented Cuthbert in its New York Gallery, along with Charles E. Burchfield, Edward Hopper and Reginald Marsh. Her work received widespread attention during the 1940s and 1950s in solo and group exhibitions and in national publications, such as Fortune Magazine and ARTnews. In 1954 she was honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters.


Cuthbert was a member of the New York Society of Women Artists as well as The Patteran Society – a group of artists who left the Buffalo Society of Artists to pursue what they believed to be a more challenging approach to art. An important retrospective of her work was presented at the Nina Freudenheim Gallery in Buffalo in 1990. The accompanying catalog presented a biographical essay by Albert L. Michaels, Ph.D., professor of history at Buffalo State College.


In 1995 the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County and the Greater Buffalo Partnership honored Cuthbert with an Individual Professional Artists Award. Over several years, Cuthbert donated many works and archival materials relating to herself and her husband to the Burchfield Penney Art Center. She died in Buffalo in 2001.