Elizabeth Hamilton Thayler Huntington (1878-1963)
Beach Scene with Sailboats
Huntington’s personal and artistic life is a gripping “profile in courage” story. Well trained at the Boston Normal School (now the Massachusetts College of Art), she developed polio as a young adult, leaving her wheelchair-bound and without the use of her right elbow and shoulder. At the time, she was engaged to be married and encouraged her fiancé to drop his offer. Her future husband refused, and after they were wed, he became a major force in encouraging her return to her passion for art. Early on during her partial recovery, he physically supported her right arm such that she could use that hand for painting. His subsequent efforts included creating special drawing tables to accommodate her disabilities in her home, studio, and car. During her career, in addition to being the principal founder of the WSA and its first vice-president, she was its longest running president, serving for approximately twenty years. She became a prominent, award-winning New England artist. It has been estimated that despite her disabilities, she managed to create over five-thousand paintings during her life.
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