FLOTUS Ellen Wilson: American Impressionist

Presidential History Blog

A statue of Ellen Axson Wilson in her hometown of Rome, Georgia.

While many First Ladies displayed some artistic gifts, Ellen Wilson was arguably the most talented.

Ellen Axson: Child to Woman

Ellen Axson Wilson (1860-1914) was bookended by war: Born just as the American Civil War was about to start, dying just as Europe was about to explode into World War I. She was  Georgian born and raised, and displayed artistic talents at an early age.

Young Ellen Axson

By the time she was in high school, her abilities were readily acknowledged. A teacher who attended the Paris Exposition one summer, brought along some of her students’ art projects for judging. Ellen’s freestyle drawing won a prize. Back in Rome, Georgia, she was becoming well known.

One of Ellen Wilson’s paintings

In Victorian times, women artists, no matter how gifted, were generally considered Sunday painters. Hobbyists. Their opportunities for…

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