Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts 1871-1927

Ogunquit Beach

  • 11 x 20 inches (27.9 x 50.8 cm)
  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed with monogram lower left: EWR

Why We Love It

Roberts was known for her seascape paintings, and this charming picture depicts a little girl playing in the sand with the shoreline in the far distance. The appealing subject, high-key palette, and bravura brushwork make this a fine example of American Impressionism, produced by one of the movement’s rare women artists.

The Value

The value of American impressionist paintings of this quality is always great. The technical bravura of the brushwork in concert with the sweet subject make it an outstanding example of a very fine artist, whose scope and notoriety were impeded only by her gender.  Roberts was an excellent painter and this work would make an important addition to any collection of American art.  The condition is superb, as is the period frame.

Artist Background

Like many women artists of her generation, Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then at the Academie Julian in Paris.  While her standing as a member of Philadelphia and New York high society afforded her the opportunity to attend art school, it did nothing to assuage the discrimination she endured as a woman artist throughout her career. She once said: “I can paint as well as any man.”

Roberts received The Mary Smith Prize and an associate fellowship during her studies at PAFA.  While she lived in Paris, she received honorable mention at the Palais des Champs Elysees Salon in the spring of 1892. And in 1897 she exhibited several works at the Paris Salon. When she returned to the United States around 1900 she worked full time as an artist and developed an expressive painting style reminiscent of John Singer Sargent.  Roberts became best known for her seascape and landscape paintings, which she exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the country. In 1908 the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibited 30 of her seascape paintings, some of which show children playing like in Ogunquit Beach.  Despite such successes, Robert was discouraged that her work was not collected more widely.

In 1917 Roberts founded and funded the Concord Art Association.  For 10 years she managed its exhibitions and sought to promote art and exhibitions in Concord, Massachusetts.  Today the association has an exceptional collection of Roberts’s work.