Ethel Myers
Portrait Impression of Mrs. D. M., also called Portrait of Mrs. Dan Morgan and Fancy Lady, modeled 1912

From Folsom Galleries to the Armory Show
Myers exhibited fifteen of her small sculptures at the Folsom Galleries in New York in late 1912. According to her autobiographical notes, Arthur B. Davies, the president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, saw her exhibition and selected nine of what she termed her “statuettes” to include in the Armory Show. [1] Her husband Jerome Myers was an active member of the A. A. P. S. and helped organize the exhibition.

Mrs. D. M.
Portrait Impression of Mrs. D. M. was lent to the Armory Show by its subject, Mrs. Daniel H. Morgan. Born Grace Dwight, the daughter of General Henry C. Dwight, a former mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, she and Daniel Morgan led a prosperous life on East Seventy-First Street in New York City. They were active collectors of modern art: Daniel Morgan made the first purchase at the Armory Show, three Redon paintings on February 19. [2] Grace was a longtime friend of Edith Dimock Glackens, the wife of the painter William Glackens. She is portrayed sitting on the sofa at right in Glackens’s 1911 Family Group (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.) wearing a dress, hat, and fur that are nearly identical to what she wears in the sculpture. The art historian William H. Gerdts described the portrayal: “Grace Morgan, just back from Paris, is stylish to the hilt, wearing a newly acquired feathered hat and red dress.” [3] Family Group was also exhibited at the Armory Show.

The response
The critics responded favorably to Myers’s sculpture. The writer for the New York Evening Post mentioned “a number of amusing little figures by Ethel Myers, which might best be described as caricatures in sculpture.” [4] In The Nation, Frank Jewett Mather, Jr., wrote of the “piquant novelty in the tiny caricatures of current modes and their feminine victims by Mrs. Myers. In general,” he continued, “the exhibition gives a sense of alertness and youthful vim.” [5]

[1] Ethel Myers Papers, 1913-1960, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, microfilm reel N68-6, frame 42. The other works by Ethel Myers included in the Armory Show were: The Matron, 1912; Fifth Avenue Gossips; Fifth Avenue Girl, 1912; Girl from Madison Avenue, 1912; The Widow; The Gambler, 1912; Upper Corridor; and The Duchess.

[2] Milton Brown, The Story of the Armory Show, 2nd ed. (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988), 120.

[3] William H. Gerdts, William Glackens (New York: Abbeville Press, 1996), 93.

[4] “International Art,” New York Evening Post, February 22, 1913, 5.

[5] Frank Jewett Mather, Jr., “The Armory Exhibition.—II.,” The Nation 96:2489 (March 13, 1913), 268.

Ethel Myers (1881-1960)

Born Lillian Cochran in Brooklyn, New York, Ethel Myers was orphaned as a child and adopted by Michael and Alfiata Klinck, who renamed her Mae Ethel Klinck. From 1898 to 1904 she studied at the Chase School of Art (later the New York School of Art), where she worked under William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller, and was later employed as the assistant director of the school. Inspired by Henri, Myers embraced the philosophical outlook of the Ashcan School and began making spirited sketches of contemporary life on the Lower East Side. In October 1905 she married the urban realist painter Jerome Myers and they devoted themselves to making art that captured the vitality of the city.

After the birth of their daughter Virginia in 1906, Ethel gave up painting and began creating the small-scale statuettes for which she is best known. Modeled in wax or clay, her subjects included society women who commissioned portraits, as well as various urban types—shop girls, performers, matrons, cleaning women, and fashionable ladies about town. She sometimes cast her works in bronze, but because the process was expensive, she often simply painted her plaster casts in blue-, green-, and brownish tones. Her work was popular with the critics. In 1912 a writer for The Craftsman wrote: “In the past Mrs. Myers has been better known to the artist world as a painter of courage and skill, for the future she must rank, whether she will or no, as a sculptor with the power of presenting through her work a knowledge of life and understanding of human psychology as rare as it is interesting.” [1]

After the Armory Show the family went to Europe, but the outbreak of the war prompted their early return to New York. Ethel Myers spent the following decades working as a teacher and a clothing designer to support her family. After her husband’s death in 1940, she devoted herself to promoting his legacy.

[1] “At the Folsom Galleries,” The Craftsman, vol. 23, no. 6 (March 1913),726.

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