National Museum of Women in the Arts
Ellen Day Hale
February 11 1855 - February 10 1940
Margaret Bush-Brown, Ellen Day Hale, 1910. Oil on canvas. 30 1/4 x 25 1/8 inches (77 x 64 cm). Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA. Gift of Arthur Hale.
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
EHL-ehn day HAY-ehl
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting, Photography
Artistic Role(s):
Etcher, Landscape Painter, Oil Painter, Photographer, Portraitist, Printmaker, Still life Painter
Artist's Biography:
The peripatetic painter and printmaker Ellen Day Hale lived on both coasts of the United States, spent time in Western Europe, and visited the Middle East. She was born in Worchester, Massachusetts, the only daughter of the noted orator and author Edward Everett Hale and Emily Baldwin Perkins. Hale’s great-great-uncle was the Revolutionary War patriot Nathan Hale; her great-aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin; her brother Philip and his wife Lilian Westcott Hale, were both professional painters, as was Susan Hale, a well-known art lecturer who was also Ellen’s first drawing teacher.

Hale also found a number of female role models among her painter friends, most notably Helen Knowlton, with whom she studied from 1874 to 1877, and Gabrielle de Veaux Clements, from whom she learned the technique of etching. Hale never married but helped raise her seven younger brothers and then, because her mother had become an invalid, acted as hostess for her father when he served as chaplain to the US Senate in Washington, DC, between 1904 and his death in 1909.

Hale studied art in Boston with William Morris Hunt, a Paris-trained painter who encouraged his pupils to work in Europe. She also took classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but was more influenced by her experiences in France at the Académie Colarossi and, especially, the Académie Julian, where she was a student in 1882 and again in 1885. Hale began exhibiting her work in 1876 at the Boston Art Club; her pictures were also displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Paris Salon, and at important venues in Philadelphia and Chicago. Hale supplemented her income by teaching but did not settle down in one place until she was nearly fifty. She continued painting well into her eighties.

Other Occupation(s):
Teacher, Traveler, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Santa Barbara
Where Trained/Schools:
Académie Julian, Paris, France (1885, 1882-1883) Académie Colarossi, Paris, France (1882-1883) Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1878-1879) Private lessons, Boston, MA, USA (1874-1877)
Related Visual Artists:
sister of Philip Leslie Hale sister-in-law of Lilian Westcott Hale cousin of Margaret Bush-Brown friend of Cecilia Beaux friend of Gabrielle de Veaux Clements student of Dr. William Rimmer student of William Morris Hunt student of Helen Knowlton student of Susan Hale student of Émile-Auguste Carolus-Duran teacher of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith teacher of Elizabeth O'Neill Verner
Fellowships, grants and awards:
First Prize, Society of Washington Artists, Washington, DC, USA (1910) Third Corcoran Prize, Society of Washington Artists, Washington, DC, USA (1905) Medal of Merit, Exhibition of Mechanics' Charitable Association, Boston, MA, USA
Earliest exhibition:
Massachusetts Centennial Art Exhibition, Boston Art Club, Boston, MA, USA (1876)
NMWA exhibition(s):
American Women Artists: 1830-1930
Ellen Day Hale
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
The Etching Revival and the Professional Woman Artist
Artist retrospective(s):
Ellen Day Hale 1855-1940, Richard York Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1981) Ellen Day Hale Memorial Exhibition, North Shore Artists Association, Gloucester, MA, USA (1940)
Related places
Brookline (died at)