Portland Museum of Art

Portland, Maine

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The following essay is reprinted with permission of the Portland Museum of Art. PMA is presenting works of art by Marguerite and William Zorach, "Harmonies and Contrasts: The Art of Marguerite and William Zorach," November 8, 2001 through January 6, 2002. An illustrated catalogue containing this essay may be purchased through the museum's bookshop.

 

To Be Modern: The Origins of Marguerite and William Zorach's Creative Partnership, 1911-1922

by Jessica Nicoll

 

In 1931, William Zorach, addressing an audience at New York's Art Students League, observed, "Modern Art to my generation was a spiritual awaking, a freeing of Art from the idea of copying Nature. We entered into a whole new world of form and color that opened up before us."[1] Zorach, a mature artist approaching the height of his creative powers, was speaking to art students for whom the revolutionary ideas of modernism were an accepted fact, the starting point for their creative development, now as codified as the academic formulas that modernists had rejected. He spoke from the perspective of an artist who just 20 years earlier had stepped across a threshold from a world of ensconced artistic tradition into one of aesthetic innovation so radical that it was both shocking and liberating in its implications. This experience of rejecting the security of the known and embracing the challenge of creating something new was, as it was for so many artists of that time, the flame that annealed William Zorach's sense of creative purpose.

William Zorach's fellow traveler and, at times, guide on this odyssey into the uncharted terrain of a new art was Marguerite Thompson, an artist who became his wife and lifelong creative partner. Their journey together began in 1911 at an avant-garde art school in Paris, where they were endeavoring to discover who they could be as artists. It would take each the better part of a decade to assimilate the lessons of modernism into a distinctive personal style. Their artwork and correspondence from that period reveal a dialogue that illuminates their shared conviction of what art could be and their quest, in which they both nurtured and challenged one another, to fulfill that vision. A picture emerges of a unique artistic partnership. The Zorachs' relationship and their life together were inextricably entwined with whom they became as artists.

The path that led William Zorach to Paris was quite different from the one that Marguerite Thompson followed. He had been born in Eurberick, Lithuania in 1889, the eighth of his parents' 10 children.[2] His family immigrated to the United States around 1893, ultimately settling in Cleveland, Ohio, where they eventually adopted the surname Finkelstein. His identity was further Americanized in grade school when a teacher replaced his given name "Zorach" with "William." In his 1967 autobiography, Art is My Life, the artist describes a childhood marked by struggle as his family, uprooted from all that was familiar and secure, worked to establish themselves in a new country.[3] His father eked out a living peddling notions and junk while his mother contributed by renting rooms. William left school after the eighth grade for an apprenticeship at the W. J. Morgan Lithograph Company, which allowed him to develop his artistic gifts while he helped to support his family.

In the Morgan lithograph shop William had his first encounters with professional artists, including Archibald Willard, William Sommer, and Billy Crane, senior painters and illustrators with a wide range of experience in commercial and fine art. From them he took technical instruction, received advice, and "learned the difference between a real artist and a commercial artist."[4] From 1903 to 1906, while still apprenticing in lithography, he studied drawing and painting in evening classes at the Cleveland School of Art.[5] In the fall of 1908, the young artist traveled to New York and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. There he was schooled in the academic system of meticulous rendering, which emphasized careful observation of nature in the service of transcribing directly what was seen. During his second year of study, he augmented his courses with long hours in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art copying old masters. His surviving paintings from this period, somberly realistic portraits set against dark backgrounds reflect his scrutiny of and admiration for the work of the Baroque master painters Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Diego Velàzquez.

In the summer of 1910, William returned to Cleveland and the lithograph shop with the goal of saving enough money to travel to Europe for continued study. One mentor, William Sommer, encouraged him to go to Munich, which in his youth had been a Mecca for young American art students. Because Abe Warshawsky, a friend and fellow artist, advised William that Paris had become the center of the art world, he set sail for France in late November. That first winter in Paris he studied at several schools, but he was disenchanted with the formulaic style of salon painting being promulgated, and he was further frustrated at not understanding the critiques, which were given in French. By early spring he had enrolled at the Académie de la Palette, where instruction was offered in English by John Duncan Fergusson, a Scottish artist with progressive leanings, and Jacques-Émile Blanche.

Under Blanche, an academician and a successful portraitist, William continued to work from a model, building on his earlier training. He quickly realized, however, that La Palette was not like other academies, for its students were encouraged to pursue their own interests rather than to adhere slavishly to a school style. As he later recalled, "I began to be conscious of the various modern influences that were invading the art world. . . . I was disturbed and confused, and yet I felt that I was a very young man entering a new age. The forces creating modern art seemed more alive to me than anything I had known or anything being done in America."[6]

In a morning class at La Palette William Finkelstein met Marguerite Thompson. In his memory of their first encounter, he observed her painting "a pink and yellow nude with a bold blue outline" and asked her if she knew what she was doing and why. Her response convinced him that "she knew and that was the beginning. But I just couldn't understand why such a nice girl would paint such wild pictures."[7] Marguerite, two years William's senior, had been in Paris for two and a half years and was an avowed "Post-Impressionist." In her new acquaintance she saw someone "quite tied down by things and ideas," who was in danger of becoming "a very good painter of the kind that just misses being an artist because he hadn't the opportunity of developing the artistic side."[8] Over the following months, as their friendship took root and blossomed into romance, Marguerite counseled, encouraged, and prodded William to free himself from his academic assumptions and to "be just as artistic as you have it in you to be."[9]

For William, Marguerite was unlike anyone he had known. As he described her, "Marguerite didn't look just like everyone else or dress like everyone else. Even then she made her own clothes. She wore a black silk turban on the back of her head with an enormous red rose in the center a fascinating hat. . . . She was shy but sure of herself and gave the impression of character."[10] Indeed, this exotic and self-assured young woman came from a different world than William Finkelstein's. Born in 1887 in Santa Rosa, California, Marguerite Thompson grew up in Fresno, which was, in the 1890s, a bustling frontier town. Her father, a prominent lawyer, was descended from Pennsylvania Quakers, and her mother came from an old New England family. The Thompsons raised Marguerite and their younger daughter, Edith, in a refined and genteel home. Marguerite studied piano, was fluent in French and German, and from early childhood cultivated her innate artistic talents by drawing almost constantly. She was a gifted student who completed high school with a full course of study in mathematics, the sciences, English, Latin, and history.[11] After graduation, she continued her academic pursuits, teaching at a local school for a year and then enrolling at Stanford University in the fall of 1908.

Marguerite Thompson's life changed when, just weeks after beginning college, she received an invitation to join her aunt, Harriet Adelaide Harris, in Paris. "Aunt Addie," the unmarried sister of Marguerite's mother, was a retired teacher who had been living in France since 1900.[12] A painter herself, she recognized that her niece had the talent to become an artist and wanted to expose her to the art and academies of Paris, resources that did not exist in early 20th-century California. Fittingly, while en route to Paris Marguerite saw her first real paintings in a museum and had her first taste of the avant-garde ideas that enthralled her thereafter. As she recalled, "When I left California my acquaintance with Impressionistic art did not extend far beyond the jokes in the funny papers. . . . The first real Impressionist pictures I saw were in Chicago. . . . In New York I came across a snow scene by Monet that gave me quite a little surprise. It was alive."[13]

Miss Harris hoped that her niece would pursue traditional French academic training, but, from the moment of Marguerite's departure for Europe, forces propelled her toward the new art. On her first day in Paris, a friend of her aunt's took her to the Salon d'Automne, an annual exhibition that had been established in 1903 as an alternative to the official Salon. The Salon d'Automne's greatest notoriety had come in 1905 when Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, and André Derain exhibited the vibrantly colored, expressive paintings that earned them the name "the Fauves," or wild beasts. At the 1908 Salon d'Automne, an enormous exhibition of more than 2,000 works by some 640 artists, Marguerite was immersed in the newest ideas through paintings by Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck, Othon Friesz, Albert Marquet, Anne Estelle Rice, and John Duncan Fergusson, among others.[14] She would go on to encounter more of these works, and some of the artists themselves, at 27 rue de Fleurus, the home of Gertrude Stein, a longtime acquaintance of Marguerite's aunt. Although not a regular participant in Stein's salon, there Marguerite had the opportunity to talk with Pablo Picasso and to form a friendship with Ossip Zadkine.[15]

Marguerite's artistic inclinations were further reinforced when she failed the entrance examination for the École des Beaux-Arts, never before having sketched a nude from life.[16] During her first two years in Europe she studied briefly at the École de la Grande Chaumière and traveled extensively. Between 1909 and 1910, she visited Italy, Switzerland, southwestern France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and England, visiting galleries and museums whenever possible.[17] Her letters record a growing disdain for the redundancy and lack of originality she found in the traditional academic art seen throughout her travels. On visiting a picture gallery in Marseilles, she observed, "I've come to the conclusion that the only respect in which one gallery differs from another is in the number of canvases contained. After going to the Louvre I think one would be justified in saying he had seen all the galleries in Europe." And, on watching a group of visitors in "oriental costumes" flee the gallery, she "felt quite guilty and ashamed as though it were I who was offering them such things as western Art."[18]

Marguerite Thompson's extant paintings from this period show an artist excited by the new ideas she was encountering and working to assimilate into her own style. Even her earliest European efforts are characterized by a use of pure, unmodulated color, applied in bold strokes, and compositions that are emphatically flat with no attempt to create the illusion of depth through traditional perspective. Her subjects always were drawn from her own experience, a practice consistent with the modern emphasis on mining meaning from contemporary life rather than from literary or historical themes favored by academic painters. In identifying herself as an adherent of "Post-Impressionism" she was employing the term as artists and critics then used it to refer to the many modern art movements that had followed in the wake of Impressionism. While the paintings from her European sojourn have generally been understood as primarily influenced by Fauvism, they, like the work of the Fauves, were informed by the groundbreaking ideas that preceded them.

Marguerite Thompson's interest in modernist color theories is evident in paintings like The Connoisseur (a 1910 portrait of Leo Stein, private collection)[19], Olive Trees, Les Baux (1910 or 1911), and Café in Arles (1911,). Looking to Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist examples, Marguerite's palette consisted of vibrant, unmixed colors with no neutral or earth tones, and she experimented with the visual interplay of complementary colors (for example, setting a green chair against a purple wall or juxtaposing an orange mountain with a bright blue sky). Like the Fauves, she used her colors for expressive purposes, often departing from literal reality in favor of evoking the essence of a scene. She also employed a technique of delineating forms and filling them with flat areas of pure color known as "cloisonnisme," a term derived from the French word for "partition." It yielded the "bold blue outline" that William Zorach noted in one of Marguerite's paintings, and that is also seen in Café in Arles. This device created compartmentalized compositions suggestive of cloisonné enamelwork, stained glass, and Japanese prints. Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin first used the technique in the late 1880s as part of a style that strove to synthesize (hence the name Synthetism) form and meaning. Marguerite Thompson embraced their methods of simplifying forms into patterns and purifying color in the service of a more powerful expression of a visual and emotional experience.

Considering Marguerite Thompson's dominant interest in color it is not surprising that she gravitated into John Duncan Fergusson's orbit at La Palette. Although his school did not espouse a rigid adherence to a specific style of painting, Fergusson was a strong advocate for Post-Impressionism. One of a group of artists known as the "Scottish Colourists," he created paintings characterized by strong color, bold brushwork, and an emphasis on design that bore the imprint of the avant-garde ideas he had discovered in Paris, where he had lived since arriving as an art student in 1895.[20]

His progressive approach attracted such students as Marguerite Thompson and her friend and painting companion Jessica Dismorr. Conversely, William Zorach chose La Palette for the opportunity to study (in English) with the more conservative Blanche and was unprepared for what he would encounter there. That William was initially disturbed by and uncertain about Post-Impressionist modes of painting is evident in letters to Marguerite that show him grappling with these new ideas. His first spring at La Palette he struggled to free himself of his assumptions about what art was and to begin to think in new ways. With his eyes newly open to the avant-garde work all around him, he sought out opportunities to see it, even if he was not yet convinced of its validity. He paid successive visits to the exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants that was on view from April 21 to June 13, 1911 and included work by Marguerite Thompson. Held annually every spring since 1894, the Salon des Indépendants was the first of the open exhibitions organized, without the aid of a jury, as an alternative to the conservative Academy-run Salon. His initial impression was not positive, but he worked to open his mind to what he saw. As he wrote to Marguerite, who had left Paris in mid-April for a painting trip in Provence, "I was to see the independent exhibition again and the only ones I saw this time were the good pictures and I almost feel sorry for what I said about the exhibition. It's very singular but it seems as though I missed everything that was good at first. . . . There is certainly some strikingly original stuff there."[21] Of her own paintings he offered, "I really saw a great deal more in them than when you showed them to me at your studio. I like them very much. . . . I am beginning to see things for the human side and looking at a picture as a thing apart from nature."[22] She responded with candor and encouragement, "I am so glad to know that you think as you do & that you have gotten rid of some of your old ideas about Art and have acquired some new ones in their stead. Now you have the opportunity to do something and all I can say is 'go ahead' for I'm sure you're on the right track."[23]

Attracted by Marguerite's descriptions of the south of France and by the hope of seeing her, William traveled to Avignon in early May, setting up a studio in a room overlooking the Rhône. While she traveled throughout Provence, visiting St. Rémy, Arles, Les Baux, Marseilles, and Martigues, he stayed put and began working in earnest on "painting entirely different than I ever did, absolutely free from any ill influence."[24] Palace of the Popes, Avignon (1911), his most significant canvas to survive from this trip, shows him working in a loosely impressionist style, using vibrant color to capture the dazzling light of a Provençal summer. It is an ambitious composition with the full lower half of the canvas comprised of the Rhône's shimmering surface reflecting the colors of trees and buildings above. He was still painting in a style that was more conservative than Marguerite's, but it represented a significant leap for him, and he wrote to her proudly, "I have gained a great deal this summer and have learned to think for myself. . . . If you will see anything in what I have done Marguerite I will be happy for it is to you that I owe everything."[25]

William was working to break free not only from the rules of his academic training, but also from the earliest lessons he had learned as an apprentice in the lithograph shop. There it had been instilled in him that he should use expensive colors such as carmine red sparingly, if it all.[26] That memory informed his observation that "I'm just having a glorious time with my big palette and lots of paint. . . . It is certainly great to use all the paint you like and have no one looking on asking foolish questions and telling you how extravagant you are."[27] Both artists felt the economic consequences of eliminating earth tones from their palettes. As William wrote to Marguerite, "It is rather expensive painting without the earth colors. I can't bear the looks of them anymore. I didn't come quite prepared with the more expensive colors so I've sent for a dozen each of Rose Madder & cobalt blue."[28] She commiserated, "It certainly costs money to be a post-impressionist. I'm beginning to envy the old school the kind that paints weeks on one canvas with little dabs of paint and all the cheap colors like burnt umber etc. .I'll be bankrupt at this rate."[29]

When Marguerite left Paris for the south of France in mid-April 1911, her friendship with William was less than two months old. That they were newly acquainted and still somewhat tentative with each other is clear from their initial letters. Marguerite's first began, "I don't know how to address you, we certainly know each other too well for 'Mr.' or 'Miss,'" and concluded, "I hope you will remember and write to me sometimes it is not so terribly often that one meets people who are really sympathetic . . . and it seems as if one shouldn't utterly lose track of such people when one does meet them."[30] The sympathy that she sensed between them is strongly evident in the frequent letters they exchanged during the course of a summer spent apart. They compared past experiences that had shaped their aspirations, the things they valued and those they held in contempt, and, most of all, what they were trying to achieve as artists.

As they came to know one another they began, implicitly, to map out a shared ideology of what life and art should be. Above all it emphasized freedom from tradition, from the pressures of societal expectations, from any constraint on personal creativity and the limitless sustenance offered by nature. The ideas they exchanged and affirmed at the outset of their relationship became and remained the foundation of their life together and of their art.

Their discourse vividly conveys what it was to be a young artist in 1911, poised to break with tradition and to create something new. It paints an extraordinary picture of a time when the avant-garde ideas now accepted as art-historical facts were radical and unprecedented and inspired both excitement and trepidation. Marguerite and William reassured one another as they pondered the implications of forsaking the known for an uncertain future. For each this meant not only diverging from artistic tradition, but also, more uncomfortably, making a break with familial expectation. They traded information about their backgrounds and their realizations that they could not live their lives on their parents' terms. For William that would have meant, "clinging to traditions and rules laid down thousands of years ago," and for Marguerite, valuing monetary "success in life above everything else."[31] Both expressed anxieties about the reception they would receive when the time came to return home. They were aware that, having forsaken the financial viability of commercial art and the connection to a respectable artistic tradition, they might have lost the tolerant and supportive attitudes of their families. As Marguerite wrote to William, "I'll probably be required to quit when the family sees my stuff," to which he responded, "Don't ever think of anyone stopping you from painting."[32]

William found sustenance for his newfound convictions in a volume of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays that he took with him to Avignon (his sole companion in a community where he did not speak the language).[33] He found his own thoughts and feelings beautifully expressed in Emerson's writings, particularly the American essayist's celebration of the power of the individual. In his exchanges with Marguerite about the trap of tradition he transcribed for her a lengthy excerpt from Emerson's Nature:

Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.[34]

Marguerite agreed with the goal of this proclamation, but took exception with the idea that a dependence on the past was a hallmark only of their age, writing, "I imagine that in all times & ages the majority of people have lived & will live in the past & not the present. I think they have always looked to the past for a confirmation of their thoughts & ideas. They seem to dread to throw it off lest they cannot stand alone." She went on to observe that while it was easy to see the wisdom in Emerson's words, it was far harder to find the courage to "throw off the past & look at life with fresh eyes."[35]

Emerson's assertion of the liberating inspiration provided by nature held a particular resonance for both artists. As they each spent the summer transported by the light and color of Provence, they returned again and again in their letters to the crucial renewal gained from time spent outdoors. William wrote that, for him, the natural world was the antidote to the anxieties and isolation that came with his chosen path, that "whenever that fearful loneness comes over me I cannot bear the enclosure of these four walls and I long for the bigness of nature and the infinite sky."[36] He pitied "those poor creatures who are fascinated by the gay lights of the city," for he was "never so happy as when I am way out of sight . . . walking on nature's plush carpet."[37] As he hiked around Avignon and sought relief from summer's heat in the Rhône, he puzzled that the locals "with all these advantages of nature all around them, how little they seem to appreciate it here. They live in those dirty narrow streets in stuffy houses and you hardly see anyone bathing."[38] Nature came to symbolize for William and Marguerite all that they aspired to in art. For them the natural world its unruly immediacy, its abundance, and the freedom it offered those who entered it was the antithesis of staid tradition represented by claustrophobic parlors, the constraining rules of polite society and polite art, and "those who wear a full dress suit to hide their true character and cover up their sins."[39] The images they painted in their letters of humans living in perfect harmony with nature, of the sensual pleasure of cool water flowing over a swimmer's skin, of soulmates who "bloom in loveliness together,"[40] would, in the years that followed, translate directly into paintings.

As William and Marguerite's epistolary friendship deepened, they looked forward to a reunion in Paris. Each eagerly anticipated the other's reaction to their summer's work, and they discussed showing their new paintings at the Salon d'Automne and returning to La Palette. Marguerite made plans to live alone and to have her own "Post-Impressionist studio."[41] And so it came as a considerable jolt to William when Marguerite wrote to him in July that she had decided to leave Paris in October. Her aunt, after 11 years in France, was returning to California, and she invited Marguerite to join her (possibly in an effort to derail the romance she sensed was developing) on a six-month trip that would take them home via Egypt, Palestine, India, China, and Japan. Deflated by this news and conscious that his resources were running low, William began to think about returning to Cleveland after a fall of further travel in Europe. Both artists were exhilarated by the prospect of carrying new ideas about art back to America. Although they had encountered Post-Impressionism in Europe, they saw in the United States far more fertile terrain for the development of modern art. As Marguerite observed, "America has the great advantage of not being tied to the past as is the rest of the world but she doesn't seem to realize her advantage & tries since she has but little past of her own to hamper her, to acquire all the past of Europe & make it her own."[42] Their time abroad had given them a new perspective that the story of American art had yet to be written, in contrast with the rich yet encumbering history of art in Europe. In their experience of Europe it was the exceptional artist who was able to sustain freshness and originality, while the vast majority succumbed to stale tradition.

Marguerite recounted to William the story of an artist she had met who "ten years ago was the most brilliant pupil in the Chicago Art Institute very original. I wish you could see his work today it is the worst of the Art of the old Salon, lifeless, almost colorless & deadly. . . . It's so easy to drift & to neglect ideas & do the same old thing in the same old way. Paris is full of such."[43] William responded that he had recently seen a salon picture, "one of those old clever stunts," and had "felt as though I were living in a different age. . . . I felt that if these people are living in the year 1911 I must be living in the year 2011."[44] He spoke for them both when he proclaimed:

I'm going back to America & show the people there that I've got something that's going to do them lots of good. Also I'm going to let them know that they're way behind the times. That they've got a wonderful opportunity to create an entirely new and individual art. . . . That they're a new country & why not have a fresh & new and American art.[45]

William returned to Paris and to Marguerite in mid-August with urgency born from the knowledge that they had only two months to spend together. The passions hinted at in their correspondence bloomed that fall, and when she departed in October they were committed to each other and to reuniting in the United States. In the letters that they wrote almost daily for more than a year they were openly in love and making plans for a future together. Although there was a new intimacy in their communications, art and their ambitions remained at the forefront of their concerns. They strategized how best to mount their campaign to revolutionize art in America. Key to this discussion was where they should live. They considered having a "Post-Impressionistic studio in San Francisco" or living "among mountains in Yosemite Valley, close to nature and away from people."[46] In the end William concluded that, while he would rather not live in a crowded city, "where there is commerce & wealth there are also people interested in art . . . New York seems the best place." [47] Marguerite accepted this, but only on the understanding that they would spend summers in the country. They also decided that when they were married they would each take a new name, symbolizing their self-invention and the equality within their union. Marguerite did not care for "Finkelstein" and William wanted "to be tagged with something more new."[48] He suggested that while in India she could "look up some nice Hindu name," but ultimately they settled on "Zorach," his given name.[49]

On December 2, 1911, the first anniversary of his arrival in France, William set sail for the United States. He landed in New York and from there traveled back to Cleveland, where he returned to the lithograph shop to begin saving for their future. He wrote to Marguerite that he was encouraged by "how broad the students and people here really are" and by a group of young painters in New York, mostly just returned from abroad, who were beginning to stir things up. He reported with pleasure that he had not "had any kicks on my pictures at all" and would be given a show by the main dealer in Cleveland.[50] Not everyone was receptive to new ideas William tried without success to interest the owner of the lithograph shop in the modernist aesthetic of posters he had brought back with him from Europe. This and other similar experiences led him to conclude that "this town needs an art education badly," and he and two friends established "the first real Post Impressionistic Studio in Cleveland."[51] It was called "Le Atelier" and featured white walls with an emerald green border and a simple design stenciled around the top. He hoped that sales of his paintings would allow him to escape the tedium of the factory but "the opening was a terrible disappointment; nobody showed up, nobody came. We kept on for a month or two and then gave up."[52]

While William struggled to stay in touch with the free artist he had been in Avignon, Marguerite was on the other side of the world having extraordinary adventures. Her letters are a richly detailed travelogue filled with her excitement at encountering so many new and different cultures. She and her traveling companions charted a leisurely route that allowed plenty of time for painting as they traveled from Venice to such exotic destinations as Jerusalem, Bombay, Jaipur, Mandalay, Hong Kong, and Yokohama. The array of new sights was an incredible creative stimulus, a challenge to her new ability to make paintings that were a visceral expression of experiences both sensory and emotional. She landed in California in April of 1912 with dozens of canvases, including The Road to Bethlehem (1911) and Street Scene in India (1911), that evoke parched desert hillsides, streets teeming with rhythmic patterns of color and shape, and jewel-like friezes of eastern pageantry.

In Europe, Marguerite had augmented her aunt's financial support by working as a freelance writer for the Fresno Morning Republican, sending home some 100 articles detailing her experiences as an art student in Paris and describing her travels. She became well known in her home community, and so her return was met with great interest. The local paper reported on her arrival, noting that her paintings had been "hung in the most exclusive Salons in Paris," and that plans were afoot for an exhibition in Fresno.[53] During her eight-month stay at home she had her first solo exhibitions.[54] She was prepared for the public reaction expressed by a Los Angeles critic, "All ye who enter here be prepared for a shock!" and strove to be an ambassador for the notion that artists must find new modes of expression for the ideas and ideals of their times.[55] On the announcement for the Los Angeles exhibition she included a quotation explaining that for the Post-Impressionists "line and color became important things in themselves and in relation to each other to express the painter's mood, and were used with an unlimited range of simplicity or complexity, strength or delicacy."[56]

Marguerite herself was quoted at length in the newspapers discussing her goals as an artist and defending the new style. She observed that her recent exposure to art of other cultures had confirmed her belief that "an art intent on expressing the inner spirit of persons and things will inevitably stray from the outer conventions of color and form."[57]

In her California exhibitions Marguerite showed paintings from her travels as well as a new body of work that resulted from a summer spent camping in the Sierra Mountains with her family. These vivid, expressively painted canvases, like Man Among the Redwoods (1912), were the work of an artist who had gained maturity and confidence in her abilities. In them she returned to landscapes beloved from youth but now seen through the filter of her European experience. She used the new language of bold line and color to give voice to the joy she derived from nature.

Marguerite executed these canvases using brushes and paints that William had brought with him from France and sent to her in May, asserting that the colors were better and more vibrant than any available in America.[58]

Despite the productivity and success Marguerite enjoyed in California including her first sale of a painting she felt the pressure of "restraining influences" at home and found her greatest support and companionship in the long letters she and William exchanged.[59] They were eager to begin their life together, and by the end of the year William had saved $1200, enough to cover their travel expenses and get them established.[60] William went to New York ahead of Marguerite and found an apartment on West 55th Street. She arrived by train on December 24, 1912, and they were married that day. They had known each other for less than two years and had spent only a few months of that time together. What they lacked in shared experiences they made up for in their shared conviction that art would be their life.

The Zorachs settled into a one-room apartment that they partitioned with "a wild forest scene" painted on muslin and furnished with cast-offs that they revived with paint and decoration. William, anxious about money, considered taking a job in a lithograph shop, but Marguerite would not allow it, asserting, "we are artists, and some way we will find a way to live as artists." [61] They lived frugally for years on his savings supplemented by income from the newspaper articles that she continued to write and the occasional sale of their work. Their full energies were devoted to painting and to establishing themselves in New York's burgeoning art world.

New York in the 1910s was as exciting a place for young artists as Paris had been in the preceding decades. The first rumblings of modern art were being felt; as William had written to Marguerite, "modern painting is the rage among artists in New York. . . .Six galleries have exhibited Post-Impressionism. . . .They've formed a society of younger painters in opposition to the academy."[62] Indeed, since 1905, Alfred Stieglitz's gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue had been showing both European and American modern art, including the work of Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Max Weber. The wave of rebellion against the academy that had begun with the 1908 exhibition of "The Eight"[63] had spawned other independent exhibitions and would crest in 1913 with the International Exhibition of Modern Art, now known as the Armory Show. The Zorachs arrived in New York two months before the opening of that landmark event, in time to have their work included in it. That massive exhibition of 1,050 works by the most progressive European and American artists sent shockwaves through the art establishment. Marguerite's painting, Study, was among the work that caught the critics' eyes, being noted by one for its "extreme modernity" and prompting another to comment derisively that the "pale yellow eyes and purple lips" of its subject suggested that she was feeling "very, very bad."[64]

The sense of energy and possibility spawned by these events intensified the zeal felt by the Zorachs. As William recalled, "we begrudged every minute not spent on painting or something related to art. We sketched all over the city -- Central Park, along the waterfront, across the Hudson on the Palisades -- and painted wild pictures at home from imagination."[65] The exchange of ideas that had previously taken place in letters now occurred in their art. As they worked side by side, really for the first time, they explored similar styles, techniques, and subjects. While they each had a distinct creative identity, there is a remarkable kinship in their paintings from this period as they drew inspiration from a life fully shared. In works like Marguerite's The Garden (1914) and William's Spring in Central Park (1914) both artists gave expression to their love of nature as they celebrated its abundance and showed humans living in perfect harmony in it. William had left behind his impressionist tendencies and embraced Marguerite's Post-Impressionism with its heavy outlines, flattened forms, and palette of pure color. Each was cultivating an innate sense of design to create, in Marguerite's words, "a picture that expresses something and is at the same time a decoration."[66] They used a vocabulary of sinuous lines to build beautifully balanced compositions of interconnected forms. The similarity between The Garden and Spring in Central Park is perhaps most marked in the shared image of lovers embracing with bowed heads, tender expressions of the Zorachs' recent union.

The Garden derived directly from a summer spent in Chappaqua, New York. As William and Marguerite had agreed when they decided to settle in New York, every summer they retreated to the country. In 1913, and again in 1914, they sublet their apartment (on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village) and rented "a run-down estate in Chappaqua." There they entertained friends, painted constantly, and cultivated the abundant garden depicted in the painting with its "magnificent vegetables and giant squash." The inspiration of nature was all that they had hoped it would be; as William recalled, "the country was a new world to me, every flower and every weed was a revelation of color and design. The richness of invention in nature was unbelievable." [67]

A pattern was established of periods, usually spanning from spring into fall, spent productively in the country, and subsequent years found William and Marguerite in the mountains of New Hampshire (1915, 1917, 1918); Provincetown, Massachusetts (1916, 1921, 1922); Stonington, Maine (1919); and Yosemite National Park (1920). In 1922, Marguerite visited Isabel and Gaston Lachaise on Georgetown Island in Maine, and the following year they purchased a nearby house on Robinhood Cove, which thereafter was their summer destination. Their work from these years reflects the creative stimulus provided by these summer seasons spent in unspoiled settings with unfettered time and, often, the camaraderie of other artists. The circumstances of these summer retreats fostered a spirit of openness and experimentation. Most years found William and Marguerite trying out a new technique, style, or medium, often with significant consequences. William's first efforts in watercolor, a medium that would become an important creative vehicle for him were small studies of plants and landscapes made in Chappaqua in 1913. (Their execution is similar to the character studies, such as Bill and Marguerite [1913], that Marguerite was making at that time.) In 1915, while staying in Randolph, New Hampshire, they experimented, with disastrous results, with a new method of canvas preparation. The technique that was introduced to them by Hamilton Easter Field, a painter and patron of young artists, was unstable, and few canvases from that summer survive.[68] The following year took them to the artists' colony in Provincetown to teach in the summer session of the Modern Art School. Since no students enrolled, they had plenty of time to paint and, with B. J. O. Nordfelt, another instructor at the erstwhile school, experiment with relief printing.[69]

Typically these forays into new media were fully collaborative, with both artists exploring new ideas side by side and occasionally working together on a piece. Their joint exploration of printmaking, for instance, led to William's first sculpture. In the summer of 1917, while in Plainfield, New Hampshire, each began carving a woodcut into panels extracted from the front of a bureau. Marguerite's effort resulted in a print block, Mother and Child, while William's yielded a fully developed bas relief, Waterfall. The central image in this sculpture of a nude woman standing in a cascade is closely related to an embroidered picture bearing the same title that William and Marguerite had made collaboratively in 1915. Access to a kiln in the summer of 1918 inspired further exploration of sculpture as both artists tried their hands at modeling clay. They created similar small figures, but the results had more significance for William, since they led to his sculptures First Steps (1918) and Kiddie Kar (1923).

While these seasons in the country were the source of renewal and the antidote to city life that the Zorachs had envisioned, they were also increasingly an opportunity to extend the network of valuable associations that they were forging in the New York art world. As they became established and their work known, they grew to be a part of a community of artists changing the face of American art. Winters were spent in the bohemian society of Greenwich Village, exhibiting in and attending the most progressive exhibitions, while summers found them living in homes provided by their patrons Hamilton Easter Field and the Henry Fitch Taylors or having their acquaintance with John Marin deepen into friendship in Stonington, Maine. The Provincetown summer community was a microcosm of the New York avant-garde. There the Zorachs designed scenery for the Provincetown Players becoming part of the theater's circle that included Eugene O'Neill, Louise Bryant, and Jack Reedand developed friendships with such artists as Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and Abraham Walkowitz.

As the Zorachs became more immersed in the American world of modern art, their investigation of new aesthetic ideas expanded to embrace Cubism. The first exhibitions of Cubist paintings, the visual language pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, had been held while Marguerite and William were in Paris. They were aware of the new style, for Marguerite had met Picasso at Gertrude Stein's salon, and her exchanges with William made a clear distinction between Cubism and the ideas embodied by Post-Impressionism. Nevertheless, neither artist experimented in Europe with this new approach to depicting space and form for, in William's words, "Cubism at that time was a mystery."[70] In New York, that began to change for them and for many other artists with the broad exposure and attention given to Cubism by the Armory Show in 1913. Perhaps even more influential was their friendship with Max Weber, whom they met in 1915. Weber, a Russian émigré, had been in Paris from 1905 to 1908 and there had been influenced not only by the work of Matisse, with whom he studied, but also by Cézanne's geometric reduction of forms and by Picasso's first cubist paintings. He and Abraham Walkowitz, with whom he was friendly in Paris, were among the first American artists to incorporate these innovations into their work. Having heard of Weber through the Stieglitz circle at the "291" gallery, William Zorach sought out the artist and his work in 1915 exhibitions at the Erich Gallery and the Montross Gallery.[71] Zorach credited Weber with broadening "the range of my vision; he made me conscious of a more three-dimensional vision. . . . To me it opened a new vista that led me away from painting and into my true medium of sculpture."[72]

Integral to this new conception of form was an interest in so-called "primitive" art, the sculpture and ritual objects of indigenous African, Oceanic, and American peoples. The abstracted forms and expressive power of such art fascinated European and American modernists alike. Marguerite Zorach's experiences traveling through the Middle and Far East had cemented her interest in the native expressions of other cultures, and she and William regularly sought out non-Western art in New York's museums and galleries. William singled out as a particular influence a 1914 exhibition of African sculpture held at Stieglitz's gallery.[73] In time their interest grew to include early American or folk art. They drew on all of these sources as they began to change the way they dealt with form, first in their paintings and, for William, ultimately in his sculpture.

These were not isolated influences for the Zorachs, nor were they alone in exploring them. They were part of a community of artists in New York, including Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Arthur Dove, who all began experimenting with abstraction in the 1910s. These new ideas exerted their transforming force roughly simultaneously on the work of both of the Zorachs. They looked at the same art, moved in the same avant-garde artistic circles, and shared a close, collaborative working process where an idea explored by one would be picked up and carried further by the other. By 1916, they had adopted darker, earthier palettes and had exchanged their interest in line and surface pattern for a dominant concern with defining form. For them Cubism's fragmented forms offered an opportunity to introduce into their paintings a sense of motion, multiple perspectives, and the element of time. Marguerite's Provincetown, Sunset & Moonrise (1916) encompasses day and night in one painting, and William's Mirage Ships at Night (1919) sets rocking boats moored in Provincetown's harbor against the shadowy comings and goings of life in the darkened town. Both artists also used this new approach to increase the power of their images. For example, the distortions of scale in Marguerite's A New England Family (1917) and the rhythmic abstractions of William's The Roof Playground (1917) serve to focus and intensify the import of the paintings.

Throughout this early period in the Zorachs' career their partnership carried into their public exhibitions. As their work gained exposure in New York they were often presented as a team, two artists who each produced highly individual works as well as innovative collaborations. When they had no formal gallery representation, they mounted exhibitions in their home, publicized as the "Zorach Studio." In 1915, Charles Daniel selected both of the Zorachs to exhibit together at his progressive new gallery as part of a stable of young artists that included Charles Demuth, Rockwell Kent, and Joseph Stella. The following year they were among the few artists honored by inclusion in "The Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters." That influential and selective exhibition featured only 17 artists among them, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Charles Sheeler chosen to represent "the very best examples of more modern American art."[74] A decade later, when asked about the difficulties women artists endured in getting exposure for their work, Marguerite responded, "My husband and I held joint exhibits for many years; we were a team, and dealers were not afraid of me."[75]

While Marguerite and William were truly united in their commitment to each other and their work, the public presentation of the couple was less balanced. Very often critical commentary and other publications that addressed exhibitions of the work of both artists would give precedence to William's contribution. For example, in the Forum Exhibition catalogue, Marguerite, the only woman in the exhibition, was the only artist who did not publish an artist's statement or have a work reproduced. In 1923, Vanity Fair published "Among the Best of American Painters," which featured a photograph of William with the caption "There are two Zorachs. This one is William. The other is Marguerite. Both are talented and astonishingly prolific masters in many mediums [sic]."[76]

The balance within the Zorachs' relationship also began to shift with the growth of their family. Their son, Tessim, was born in 1915 and their daughter, Dahlov, arrived in 1917. Just as the Zorachs' romance had translated into tender painted images of lovers, their experience of parental love became a sustained and sustaining inspiration for their work. Each stage of their children's development was a source of fascination for them and yielded paintings and sculptures that capture the essence of youth in their images of squirming infants, toddlers struggling to maintain balance, and children playing with both great concentration and great exuberance. Equally profound was the influence of emotions aroused by parenthood, which found expression in iconic depictions of adults in nurturing, loving, and protective relationships with babies and children.

Nonetheless, the addition of two children to the Zorach household had an inevitable effect on the availability of uninterrupted stretches of time to be devoted to art. By their own accounts the Zorachs shared many of the responsibilities of domestic life and were not overly fastidious about housekeeping; however, it was the late 1910s, a time when the care of young children fell largely to women, and Marguerite felt the impact of that reality. As William recalled, "Marguerite was frustrated at not having any uninterrupted time for painting, and uninterrupted time was a necessity for the kind of painting she did in oil. . . . There was no uninterrupted time with caring for two small children, cooking, and running a house."[77]

Marguerite's solution to this dilemma was typically creative although she continued to paint as time allowed, she devoted increasing energies to making embroidered pictures, or, as she called them "tapestry paintings," which she could work on sporadically. She was a skilled needlewoman who sewed her own clothes as well as her family's, but she had no real training in decorative embroidery. Her first experiment with embroidering a picture was in collaboration with William in 1913. Together they had invented stitches, creating swirling, textured compositions in wool on linen. They collaborated on several embroideries, including The Sea (1917-18) and Maine Islands (1919), but eventually it was Marguerite alone who worked in this medium. She was attracted by the vibrancy of colored wools, which had a brilliance lacking in oil paint and, as she explained, the embroideries were:

"very good things to do for an artist who has children to take care of. You see, painting is continuous, and more fluid than this sort of thing. You must sustain a mood. This can be picked up or put down at will. It is more precise and you must have time to think your effects out well ahead of time."[78]

She exhibited her embroideries to great critical acclaim, being credited as "the inventor of what is virtually a new art."[79] The public exposure of this work attracted the patronage of such notable collectors as Helen and Lathrop Brown, Lucy L'Engle, Mrs. Nathan Miller, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who commissioned pictures as well as decorative furnishings such as bedspreads.[80] As Marguerite artfully balanced her responsibilities to home and family with her desire to continue to expand her creative work, she found herself generating crucial financial support for her household. Despite these successes, the reduced time that she had for her artwork, the energy she put into fulfilling private commissions, and her move to a non-traditional medium inevitably had an impact on the public awareness of her work. From the late 1910s, the art establishment consistently perceived Marguerite Zorach as her husband's subordinate.[81]

As William and Marguerite Zorach's work diverged, their artistic identities became more distinct. By the late 1910s, forces both personal and creative were propelling them in different directions. William's interest in three-dimensional form was leading him into increasingly serious experiments with sculpture. At the same time, he seems to have fully achieved what he wanted to say as a painter. During a 1920 trip to visit Marguerite's family in California, the Zorachs spent the summer camping in Yosemite National Park. It was a landscape familiar to Marguerite from childhood, but William was awestruck by his introduction to its exhilarating majesty. He created dozens of exquisite pencil sketches, watercolors, and oils. The culmination of this body of work is Yosemite Falls (1920), a stylized, abstracted landscape that gives ecstatic expression to the surging power of the torrent depicted. While this is not William's last painting, it is arguably one of his greatest. Within two years of its completion he would cease to paint in oils, devoting his energies to sculpture and watercolors.

At this same time Marguerite Zorach's mature painting style was emerging. Her cubist experiments led to a more representational mode that synthesized the concerns of her earlier paintings into one unified style. Many of the hallmarks of this style are evident in Ella Madison and Dahlov (1918), which depicts the beloved woman who helped look after the Zorach children holding the artist's daughter. That painting's rich palette, faceted forms, and sense of monumentality are found in much of Marguerite's later work. From the late 1910s, she honed this style in paintings and embroideries that vividly and often wittily portray her world scenes of family life, the landscapes she loved, and the friends and neighbors that enriched her world.

From 1922, when William shifted his focus to sculpture, the Zorachs' work developed on parallel but independent tracks. Where earlier they had explored the same aesthetic ideas, now their work overlapped in subject matter, as they continued to draw on their shared life for inspiration, and broad concepts of form. A dialogue between the artists remained evident in their work throughout their careers. For example, Marguerite's modern interpretation of a Madonna and Child in Ella Madison and Dahlov is echoed in William's Mother and Child (1922), one of his first major carvings, and subsequent sculptures on the theme. His sensuous Floating Figure (1922) has a painted foil in her Nude Reclining of the same year. And, Marguerite's Diana of the Sea (circa. 1930), both informed and is informed by numerous sculptures including Bathing Girl (1930).

As William and Marguerite Zorach emerged as individual artists with distinct identities, their symbiotic artistic relationship evolved into one that was still mutually supportive but less interdependent. Their first decade together had been a period of intense artistic investigation and discovery that laid the foundation for a lifetime of parallel but autonomous creative work. Together they had embarked on an exploration of what it meant to be modern. In the process they forged a rare partnership that allowed each to hone a unique artistic vision.

The title of this essay is indebted to Sylvia Yount and Elizabeth Johns, To be Modern: American Encounters with Cézanne and Company (Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996).

All correspondence quoted is from the Zorach Papers, Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Undated letters have estimated dates based on the content of the letters given in brackets [].

 

Endnotes:

1. William Zorach, "Where is Sculpture Today?" typed lecture notes, 1931, Zorach Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, microfilm, NY59-3: 48.

2. Eurberick, Lithuania is more commonly known today as Jurbarkas. For the details of the Zorachs' childhoods, as for so much of the information in this essay, I am indebted to the definitive research of Dr. Roberta K. Tarbell, notably, Catalogue Raisonné of William Zorach's Carved Sculpture (Newark: University of Delaware, 1976), and Marguerite Zorach, The Early Years: 1908-1920 (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Collection of Fine Arts, 1973).

3. William Zorach, Art is My Life (New York and Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1967), pp. 4-10.

4. Ibid., p. 13.

5. From 1903 to 1906, William Finkelstein attended evening classes taught by Henry Keller at the Cleveland School of Art, now the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1907, he attended evening classes taught by Abel Warshawsky at the Jewish Council for Education Alliance in Cleveland. See William H. Robinson and David Steinberg, Transformations in Cleveland Art, 1796-1946: Community and Diversity in Early Modern America (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1996), p. 241.

6. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 22.

7. Ibid., p. 23.

8. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Les Baux) to William Finkelstein (Paris), [May] 1911.

9. Ibid.

10. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 23.

11. Tarbell, Marguerite Zorach, The Early Years, p. 14.

12. Ibid.

13. Marguerite Thompson, "The Impressionist School of Art," Fresno Morning Republican (April 4, 1909): 12, quoted in Tarbell, Marguerite Zorach, The Early Years, p. 58.

14. Salon d'Automne Catalogue de la Sixième Exposition (October 1 to November 8, 1908).

15. Tarbell, Marguerite Zorach, The Early Years, p. 15.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid., p.62.

18. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Marseilles) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), June 14, 1911.

19. Marguerite Zorach's The Connoisseur (1910, oil on canvas, 22 x 17 1/2", Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer P. Potamkin) is illustrated in color on the back cover of Yount and Johns, To Be Modern.

20. The "Scottish Colourists" include John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), Samuel J. Peploe (1871-1935), Francis Cadell (1883-1937), and George Hunter (1879-1931). For more information see Colour, Rhythm & Dance: Paintings & Drawings by J. D. Fergusson and His Circle in Paris (Edinburgh: Scottish Arts Council, 1985).

21. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (Avignon), April 27, 1911.

22. Ibid.

23. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Marseilles) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), June 14, 1911.

24. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Paris), May 28, 1911.

25. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), July 16, 1911.

26. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 14.

27. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), May 9, 1911.

28. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), May 28, 1911.

29. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Les Baux) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), [May] 1911.

30. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Avignon) to William Finkelstein (Paris), [April] 1911.

31. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (Avignon), April 27, 1911; Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Paris) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), July 20, 1911.

32. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Les Baux) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), [May] 1911; Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), May 28, 1911.

33. William Zorach identified the volume as Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Conduct of Life and Other Essays, apparently a compilation of Emerson's writings. The Conduct of Life was published in 1860; the material that Zorach quoted in his letters is from Emerson's Nature: Addresses/ Lectures (1849).

34. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Introduction," Nature: Addresses/Lectures (1849), as quoted in letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Paris), July, 1911.

35. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Paris) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), July 1911.

36. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (Avignon), April 27, 1911.

37. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), May 28, 1911.

38. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Provence), August 2, 1911.

39. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (Avignon), April 27, 1911.

40. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Paris), July 1911.

41. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Paris) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), July 12, 1911.

42. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Paris) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), July 1911.

43. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Paris) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), July 12, 1911.

44. Letter, William Finkelstein (Avignon) to Marguerite Thompson (Paris), July 1911.

45. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (at sea), n.d. [1911].

46. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (India), January 1912; Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (India), December 2, 1911.

47. Letter, William Finkelstein (Paris) to Marguerite Thompson (at sea), n.d. [1911].

48. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (India), January 1912.

49. Ibid.

50. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (India), January 1, 1912. William was referring to his first solo exhibition that opened on April 8, 1912 at William Taylor and Sons, Cleveland, Ohio.

51. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (India), January 1912.

52. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 27.

53. Undated clipping [April 1912), Zorach Papers, Library of Congress.

54. Marguerite Thompson's exhibition of "Post-Impressionist Paintings and Etchings" was held from October 21-November 2, 1912, in the Galleries of Royar and Neighbours, Los Angeles. Shortly afterward her work was exhibited at the Parlor Clubhouse, Fresno.

55. Alma May Cook, "California Artist Brings Back Many Canvas Gems from Fields in Foreign Lands," Los Angeles Express (October 12, 1912).

56. The quotation on the announcement for the exhibition at the Galleries of Royar and Neighbours was from an article on "Les Ballet Russes" by Anne Estelle Rice, an artist in the circle of John Duncan Fergusson with whom Marguerite had been acquainted in Paris. Zorach Papers, Library of Congress.

57. Marguerite Thompson quoted in Antony Anderson, "Marguerite Thompson, Futurist," Los Angeles Times, [October 1912].

58. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (Fresno), May 2, 1912.

59. Letter, Marguerite Thompson (Arles) to William Finkelstein (Avignon), [April/ May] 1911.

60. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (Fresno), November 7, 1912.

61 Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 31.

62. Letter, William Finkelstein (Cleveland) to Marguerite Thompson (Hong Kong), March 6, 1912.

63. The group known as "The Eight" included Robert Henri, its organizer, and Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. Together they defied the sovereignty of the National Academy of Design when, in February 1908, they exhibited outside its auspices at the Macbeth Gallery in New York City. See Bennard B. Perlman, The Immortal Eight and Its Influence (New York: The Art Students League of New York, 1983).

64. Hutchins Hapgood, "Life at the Armory," undated newspaper clipping, Zorach Papers, Library of Congress; Aloysius P. Levy, "The International Exhibition of Modern Art," New York American (February 22, 1913). Marguerite Zorach's entry in the exhibition, Study, was no. 782 in the exhibition catalogue; see 1913 Armory Show 50th Anniversary Exhibition 1963 (Utica, New York: Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1963), p. 208.

65. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 31.

66. Marguerite Thompson quoted in Antony Anderson, "Marguerite Thompson, Futurist."

67. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 36.

68. Ibid., p. 41.

69. Tarbell, Marguerite Zorach, The Early Years, p. 49

70. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 22.

71. Ibid., p. 134, and information provided by Roberta K. Tarbell.

72. Ibid.

73. Ibid., p. 34.

74. The Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters (New York: Anderson Galleries, 1916).

75. "Marguerite Zorach on Women in Art," Christian Science Monitor (April 12, 1926).

76. "Among the Best of American Painters," Vanity Fair (March 1923): 52.

77. Zorach, Art is My Life, p. 56.

78. Quoted in "Mrs. Zorach's New Art Form Put on Display," New York Herald Tribune (October 23, 1935).

79. Ibid.

80. For more on Marguerite Zorach's embroideries see Hazel Clark, "The Textile Art of Marguerite Zorach," Woman's Art Journal 16 (Spring/ Summer 1995): 18-25.

81. See Joan M. Marter, "Three Women Artists Married to Early Modernists: Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Sophie Tauber-Arp, and Marguerite Thompson Zorach," Arts 54 (September 1979): 88-95.


rev. 12/10/01

Read more about the Zorachs in our article Harmonies and Contrasts: The Art of Marguerite and William Zorach (8/16/01).

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