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Anna Lee Stacey (1865 - 1943)

Please credit Illinois Historical Art Project and Author: Joel S. Dryer © Illinois Historical Art Project

Anna Lee Stacey

A Study in Yellow, 1909


Anna Lee Stacey “paints because she was born that way.”[1] A widely acknowledged artist of her time, Anna dedicated her life to her art. She was a prolific artist and one of the most exhibited local artists at the Art Institute of Chicago. She won numerous awards, and exhibited her work throughout the United States. A gregarious person, “Mrs. Stacey spent almost all of her time she was not doing club work, before her easel.”[2] Throughout her life, Anna continued to perfect her technique, but retained conventional codes of perspective, expression and representation.


Not a great deal is known about Anna’s early life or her family. She was born in Glasgow, Missouri, on September 10, 1865. Her father, John Dey, was from New Jersey, and her mother, Elizabeth Fisher, was from Indiana. Anna Lee had two older sisters, Mary and Sarah, one younger sister, Rowena, as well as one older brother, Charles.[3] Glasgow is located on the Missouri River and was a steamboat stop. The town was recovering from a bloody Civil War battle in 1865, when half a block, including City Hall, was burned. Huge mansions, lavish hotels and bathing spas were constructed during the recovery period.


Anna had no formal art training as a child, but said she liked to draw, and she even painted her dolls. “When my parents saw how I loved to make pictures, they arranged for private lessons in art which was not a simple matter in the little town of Glasgow, Mo.”[4] An interested teacher gave her a few lessons that were a kind of rudimentary training in copying.[5] Later in life Anna recalled, “At that time, my idea of the beautiful in art was a wooden snow shovel with a painted scene bedecked with diamond dust…”[6] As early as 1876 she attended the non-sectarian, co-educational Pritchett School Institute in her home town.[7] The institution offered education from the elementary level through a full college degree. From a newspaper photo of Anna in 1902, we know she wore glasses.[8]


Anna continued her education at the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, where she met John Franklin Stacey (1859-1941), one of her teachers and her future husband.[9] John was originally from Biddeford, Maine, and attended the Massachusetts Normal School, which trained people to be teachers.[10] He was known as a large man and sometimes prone to strong opinions.[11] He spent three years of study at the Académie Julian in Paris with Gustave-Clarence-Radolphe Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefèbvre, along with fellow Bostonians such as artists Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951) and Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938).[12] The Académie Julian was regarded as a stronghold of the academic tradition.[13] When John returned to the United States, he took a teaching post at the school in Kansas City.[14]


The Staceys were married October 15, 1891, and moved to Chicago, where John set up a studio.[15] We do not know just how the couple earned their living but by 1898, John had taken a position teaching art at R.T. Crane Manual Training School.[16] We surmise from an early newspaper article that Anna entered the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1889-1890 school-terms.[17] Records from this period are incomplete. From 1893, when records are more continuous, we know was studying at the school and completed her course work and graduated on June 11, 1896, having won several honorable mentions her last year.[18] Indicative of her standing among fellow student artists, she served as treasurer of the Art Students’ League for the 1896-1897 term.[19] She also exhibited in their annual shows from 1895 to 1897,[20] where her work was called “among the most pleasing in the collection.” The critic had noted she was already working “in a pronouncedly high key…” with her colors.[21] One critic reviewing the work of the Art Students’ League predicted:


“Miss Stacey has the elements of the successful artist in her, and will be heard from in the future.”[22]


The Art Institute regimen gave her a foundation of skills in drawing the live model and she would specialize in an idealized type of portraiture throughout her career. Her class was particularly talented as it included the future highly acclaimed Chicago artists Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952), Pauline Palmer (1867-1938) and John Christian Johansen (1876-1964).[23] The school was the largest and arguably the best of its type in the United States.[24] Later in life Anna was to refer to this time as “among the pleasantest of my life. Partly so possibly by reason of having an artist husband that was encouraging and watching with loving interest every step I made along arts hard and arduous pathway.”[25] She believed that due to her early experiences with art in Glasgow, she had much to unlearn.[26] To the annoyance of some of the other students Anna had “learned to paint and talk at the same time,”[27] forming friendships which would last a lifetime. Quite modest, Anna would continue to discount her natural ability to paint, often noting how difficult it was for her. In a tribute to both her modesty and the gratitude she felt toward her alma mater, she said:


“I was more or less lucky in winning some prizes along the way – that was always encouraging. The later results of my work with which you are all familiar has come from a slow growth and assimilation of what I had acquired in the long and pleasant years spent within the walls of the Institute. I never fail to tell every one I meet away from Chicago as well as here – that I consider it one of the greatest civic Institutions in this country – possibly in the world. I am proud to claim it as my sole instructor.”[28]


Anna’s subject matter and style were influenced by her teachers along with events in the art world and her own natural interests. One of her early figure sketches in charcoal was illustrated by the Chicago Tribune as an example of work completed by students in their drawing classes at the Art Institute.[29] The subject was a man clothed in a fleece toga, leaning on a walking stick. It is rendered in a highly academic and very accurate fashion, reflecting the drawing foundation so prevalent in the course work at the School of the Art Institute. Impressionism is the most explanatory label to use for Anna’s style. Impressionism in the United States was promulgated by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Novelist Hamlin Garland stated that the Impressionists were considered “ colorists…. They do not paint leaves,…they paint the effect of leaves upon the eye.”[30] They juxtapose raw colors on the canvas, “leaving the eye to mix them as in nature.”[31]


One of Anna’s teachers was Leonard Ochtman (1854-1934), highly regarded as a landscape artist.[32] Charles Henry Caffin identified Ochtman as one of the country’s artists who “study nature in the light of the open air… few can equal his refinement of observation and delicate tonality.”[33] In a review of his exhibition at the O’Brien gallery, the critic wrote, “Mr. Ochtman ranks with the greatest in America... He may be called an impressionist, pure and simple.”[34] When Ochtman’s work was shown at the Columbian Exposition, his work was placed among other pictures in the American Impressionist style. Ochtman’s influence on Anna’s work was noted by critic Arthur Merritt when he said, “…her landscapes have the same subtle charm that Ochtman casts over his.”[35]


Her paintings, like those of the other American Impressionists, were subjects unto themselves. They were not considered romantic nor did they have a classic formality. In one interview, Anna commented on the difficulty of painting en plein-air,” it is not an easy matter to paint out-of-doors with the changing shifting light and many reflections falling on the model.”[36] She often painted exactly what she saw, without a rearrangement of the elements of nature. One such case was Village at Twilight (location unknown). Searching for subject matter she said she was, “Looking across the river late one afternoon, [and] saw her prize picture.”[37] She painted on location using a “rapid and deft brush” to capture the line and temper of the moment. In some of her work, she made small sketches and studies in preparation for the finished painting.[38] Reviewer Lena McCauley noted she had the “power to convey great meanings directly and simply.”[39] Throughout her long career, her style and approach to painting never underwent any dramatic change. A critic wrote late in her career that her painting exhibited at the San Gabriel Artists’ Guild, Sunlight Through Haze (location unknown), was “an impressionistic’s [sic] view in quiet tonal harmony.”[40] Impressionism remained Anna’s style.


Early in Anna’s career, she was awarded prizes by a supportive Chicago art community. In 1897, just after her graduation she was given the first watercolor prize at the annual Chicago West End Woman’s Club Salon Day.[41] One critic described the work as “unimpeachable, so clearly and adequately presented…”[42] The next year Anna was given the Niké Club purchase prize for her painting By-Road of Janesville, Wisconsin (location unknown). The Niké had established this prize as a means of supporting local artists who entered the newly founded Exhibition of Chicago Artists at the Art Institute, and Anna was the first recipient.[43]


The summer of 1900 saw a mass exodus of artists from Chicago who descended upon Paris to see the Universal Exposition. All aspects of Chicago were ably represented at this world’s fair and the city’s companies and citizens were awarded more than one hundred prizes and gold medals for their exhibits, nearly one seventh of those awarded.[44] The Staceys too found themselves abroad and Anna took the opportunity to advance her training by entering the Academie Delecluse.[45] The couple later traveled the countryside and by August had stopped in Auvers-sur-Oise.[46] As a result of this trip, we see in her work a deeper exploration of tone in evening compositions. She had explored night scenes during the previous year including As Night Comes On, Twilight, Lamplight;[47] and in early 1900, she had won the Young Fortnightly honorable mention for A Gray Day on the Mystic River (location unknown).[48] Upon return, her output began to dwell on more tonal themes, aspects of darker images and a preponderance of evening subject matter.[49] We can only suppose the Exposition and recent training must have had such an effect upon her work.[50] As one critic noted shortly after her return, “she has not been insensible to the influence of old Europe on her art.”[51] Favorable press coverage, numerous prizes, and varied exhibition venues would soon become a hallmark of Anna’s career.


Throughout her life Anna painted the landscape, sometimes with figures, sometimes without. She also painted seascapes, portraits, as well as floral still life, but there are few scenes of the city of Chicago, despite residing in the Tree Studios in the heart of the city most of her life.[52] Anna’s subject matter was derived primarily from her travels. Early on she painted at Delavan, Wisconsin. One of her first exhibited works at the Annual Exhibition of American Artists in the Art Institute entitled An Old Homestead, Delavan, Wisconsin (location unknown), was painted on site in that city, probably while she was in attendance at John Henry Vanderpoel’s (1857-1911) summer art school there. Critic Louise Reidel wrote of the natural beauties of the area, noting that “The work of the week usually includes painting from a model posed outdoors during one-half of the day, when a subject is chosen which suggest open-air occupation… The other half the day is devoted to landscape.”[53] During summers and whenever Mr. Stacey could get leave of his teaching duties, the pair traveled, always painting as they went.[54] One writer noted that she painted all the time.[55]


Critic Lena Mae McCauley listed, almost annually, the travel destinations of the Staceys as well as other artists in her newspaper column “Art and Artists” in the Chicago Evening Post.[56] Harriet Monroe referred to Anna’s numerous travels as “vagabondizing.”[57] The Staceys traveled to France (1900, 1929 and 1930-1931),[58] Italy (1904-1905),[59] Spain (1906,[60] 1910,[61] 1912,[62] 1914,[63] and 1929),[64] Belgium (1910),[65] as well as various sites in the United States and Canada (1911).[66] They returned regularly to the New England area where they found Mystic and Old Lyme, Connecticut, particularly amenable. In regard to their desire to return to New England again and again she said, “There is one advantage to going back to the same place, you waste no time looking up subjects.”[67] The Staceys also frequently visited East Gloucester, Massachusetts. Anna told a reporter that in Gloucester “They had built a studio for us right on the waters’ edge. I know the people I can find for models. In winter I plan my work, and I have more themes in mind than I shall be able to carry out during the entire summer.”[68] Travel also provided the Staceys with exhibition opportunities and may have led to a wider acceptance of their work in Eastern venues.[69] John and Anna were members of the Lyme Art Association, where they exhibited for several years beginning in 1924.[70]


It might be argued that 1902 was the year that charged her career for life; certainly it was a smash success for the young artist. One critic summarized the events by stating:


“…Mrs. Anna L. Stacey, who won distinction at the recent exhibition of Chicago artists because she not only carried off prizes, but sold more pictures to Chicago Clubs than any other two artists exhibiting.”[71]


She exhibited thirteen oil paintings in the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago Artists[72] and critic Arthur Anderson Merritt succinctly summed part of her success when he said:


“Mrs. Anna L. Stacey came in for more than her share of honors, though it is safe to say that none of the competing artists grudged her success. Her delightful ‘Florence,’ herewith pictured, won the Young Fortnightly prize, and was almost immediately purchased by the Klio Association, and another of her canvases, ‘When All the World Seems Fair,’ depicting a girl in white with a touch of red near her throat, sitting in the broad sunlight of a garden, was purchased by the Chicago Woman’s Aid.”[73]


Anna had coaxed a young local from Mystic, Connecticut, described as “a small girl with wine-brown eyes and red-gold hair,” to pose for Florence (Union League Club of Chicago).[74] From the same show the Arché Club purchased her painting Twilight Reveries (current location unknown).[75] She was also awarded the Chicago Woman’s Aid Society Purchase Prize for All the World Seems Fair (current location unknown).[76]


Critic Henry Charles Payne did not always praise Anna’s work, but felt her painting from the Chicago artists exhibit, An Afterglow (location unknown), while not being an exact representation of the facts, nonetheless had “great purity and vividness of tint… an evident grasp of essential truth, that raises the picture well above the commonplace of most of the exhibit.”[77] In another column the same critic wrote


“Anna L. Stacey shows some pictures too that must appeal to any real art lover. I do not think that she has yet quite found the right compromise between individual temperament and objective truth; yet, in a number of her pictures she has come so near it, the sentiment and the execution are so good.”[78]


Later in the year at the Annual Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists she was awarded the Union League Purchase Prize for Trophies of the Field (Chicago: Union League Club of Chicago), in addition to the prestigious Martin B. Cahn prize for her painting The Village at Twilight (location unknown).[79] A critic in the Chicago Chronicle wrote that the selection of works showed an unusually high quality from women artists, stating “Were their pictures distributed freely among a proportional number of men it would be impossible to detect any prevalent trait suggestive of a special classification.”[80] Later in the same article the author commented on the handicap women faced:


“Disadvantages of study away from home necessarily diminished the number who, having undoubted talent, have been unable to live where instruction is obtainable. At Paris the colony of American women students is now extensive and as a whole is under competent and faithful chaperonage… For it must be admitted that while the average man in art intends to make it his sole occupation, most of the women who engage in painting or sculpture remain in it only until a deeper human interest attracts them or return to it after their domestic situation makes another than domestic duty practicable.”[81]


Referring in part to the somewhat unique husband and wife team he said, “Of the women exhibitors in the current exhibition three have their husbands for professional associates. Women will realize by experience that art, proverbially a jealous mistress, will require an undivided allegiance as the price of high achievement.”[82] Anna was fortunate to have a completely supportive husband. When told his wife won the Cahn prize John Stacey said, “My wife can paint far better than I.”[83]


Despite painting and living together, the Staceys worked in different styles. James William Pattison noted there was not the slightest resemblance in their work describing Mr. Stacey as a “literalist.”[84] While Mr. Stacey painted almost strictly landscapes, Mrs. Stacey, while painting landscapes as well, also showed the other side of life, the people.[85] Mr. Stacey’s subjects were invariably nature, painted in “…large, free, open landscapes. Mrs. Stacey studies nature nearer at hand with appropriate human figures...”[86] Writers described her work as having a “wide range of capabilities ranging from bits of Landscape at Mystic, Connecticut, and river scenes to portraits and ideal… pieces.”[87] Harriet Monroe, writing for the Chicago Tribune, said that Mrs. Stacey “tries her hand at any subject that comes along …now and then achieving a beautiful picture, a poetic interpretation of her subject rather than a statement of it.”[88] She had a broad ranging palette and could paint in high key Impressionism or the soft colors of Tonalism.[89] She was an able technician as well, one critic describing her brush work as “free and forceful.”[90] That Anna remained true to her training and style is evident in a much later review of her work, noting the soft pastel colors and that her best work “is to be found in the figures in landscape, figures enveloped in atmosphere, carefully drawn figures against a nebulous landscape.”[91]


[1]Henry Charles Payne, “Paintings and Sculpture to be Exhibited Tonight, Claim Admiration of All Who View Them.” Chicago Journal, 2/4/1908, p.4.

[2]Lillian Brand, “Art is a Poor Provider,” Pasadena Star-News, 2/5/1940, p.3.

3John E. Dey Family, Federal Census, Glasgow, Howard County, Missouri, 1870, p.306. Anna’s father John E. Dey, was a manufacturer of saddles and horses, and was Marshall of the city of Glasgow in 1876. Ruth Cropp King, Index of the Glasgow Journal, (Pittsburgh, PA: 1995), n.p.

[4]Op. cit., Brand, Pasadena Star-News, 2/5/1940, p.3.

[5]“An Artist and Her Work,” Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14.

[6]Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902.

7The Pritchett School Institute has erroneously been referred to as the Pritchard School Institute in many references to Anna Lee’s career. The Register and Directory of the Pritchett School Institute, 1876-1877, lists Annie Dey in the Primary School, p.29. Charles Dey is listed among those who earned their Bachelor in Arts in 1875 and 1876, p.31. He was listed as from Denver, Colorado. Sarah Dey Swayze, of South Pueblo, Colorado, is listed having earned a “Mistress in Literature” in 1876-77. We know also from the index to the Glasgow Weekly Journal that the Dey family had moved to Denver.

[8]“Mrs. Anna L. Stacey, Whose Picture ‘Florence’ Won The Young Fortnightly Prize,” Chicago Record-Herald, 2/11/1902, p.7.

[9]“Chicago Women Artists and Their Studios,” Chicago Tribune, 4/4/1909, part 7, p.6. A photo of her in her studio is included with the article. Op. cit., Branch, Pasadena Star News, 2/5/1940, p.3. Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14. See also: Mazee Bush Owens and Frances S. Bush, Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design: A History of Community Achievement, 1885-1964, (Kansas City, Mo: Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, 1964), p.8. John Franklin Stacey is listed among the early directors of the school.

[10]Francis R. Howard, Editor, American Art Annual, Vol. 20, (New York: MacMillan Company, 1923), p.227. The Massachusetts Normal School later became the Massachusetts College of Art, and had a course of study for those who wanted to become art specialists. Students attended school for a bit more then two years, taking from ten to fourteen classes, including drawing, art history and appreciation, painting, composition, anatomy and perspective. This was a tuition free school for in-state students.

[11]“Artist And Critic Clash,” Chicago Tribune, 3/3/1909, p.3.

[12]“Long Career Ends for Noted Artist,” Pasadena Star News, 2/4/1941, p.13

[13]Stuart McDonald, History and Philosophy of Art Education, (London: University of London Press, Ltd. 1970), p.289

[14]Ralph Clarkson, “Chicago Painters, Past and Present,” Art and Archeology, Vol. 12, Nos. 3 and 4, September-October 1921, p.135. Clarkson noted that most American artists on their return from Europe, “must teach or illustrate, for the demand for their output was limited,” p.135.

[15]“The Fine Arts,” Chicago Tribune, 10/25/1891, p.39, announces John Stacey’s arrival in Chicago with the intention of opening a studio.

[16]Ralph Elmer Clarkson, “Chicago Painters, Past and Present,” Art & Archeology, Vol. 12, Nos. 3 and 4, September-October 1921, p.143, and Eleanor Jewett, “Connecticut Acres,” illustration caption, “Critic Voices Praise for Art Club Exhibit,” Chicago Tribune, 4/22/1928, Part 8, p.6. Manual training schools were first established in 1876 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in response to the industrial revolution. John D. Runkle, one of the first proponents of such a school believed manual training developed both mental discipline and cultural education. Arthur Efland, History of Art Education, (New York: Teachers College Press, 1992), p.166.

[17]“Jolly Art Students,” Chicago Times, 5/11/1890 in AIC Scrapbooks, Vol. 4, col. 1, p.~134.

[18]Student record, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1893-1896.

[19]“Artists Are Hosts,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 12/16/1896, p.5.

[20]“The Art Students’ League,” Arts, Vol. 6, No. 4, December 1895, pp.181-182. Catalogue. Annual [third] Exhibition of The Art Students’ League of Chicago, (Chicago: Art Students’ League, 1896), and Catalogue. Annual Exhibition of The Art Students’, League. 4th Annual Exhibit, (Chicago: Art Students’ League, 1897). Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago. She also served on the juries of the annual exhibitions in 1902 and 1907-1909.

[21]“Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Journal, 12/12/1896, p.4.

[22]“Art Students’ League Exhibition,” source unknown, c.12/15/1896, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 8, col. 4, p.31.

[23]Buehr and Palmer are subjects of essays in this book.

[24]As so proclaimed by observer Julain Ralph noted in “Art and Artists,” Chicago Tribune, 6/14/1896, p.43.

[25]Op. cit., letter from Anna Stacey to Harshe, 1922.

[26]Op. cit., letter from Anna Stacey to Harshe, 1922.

[27]Op. cit., letter from Anna Stacey to Harshe, 1922.

[28]Op. cit., letter from Anna Stacey to Harshe, 1922.

[29]“Art and Artists,” Chicago Tribune, 6/21/1896, p.43.

[30]Hamlin Garland, Crumbling Idols; Twelve Essays on Art, Dealing Chiefly with Literature, Painting and the Drama, (Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard University, reprint, 1960), p.99.

[31]Op. cit., Garland, Crumbling Idols, p.101.

[32]Ochtman was a visiting professor at the School of the Art Institute in 1893 when Anna began her course work. He returned again to the school in 1898. In op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14, the critic states “…entered the Art institute and became a pupil of Leonard Ochtman.” Visiting professors taught advanced classes only, so it is quite certain she studied with him in 1898. Ochtman’s influence upon her work was noted in Arthur Anderson Merritt, “World of Chicago Artists,” Brush and Pencil, Vol. 9, No. 6, March 1902, p.342. Merrit commented upon her work in Mystic, Connecticut, and suggested her work held the same type of “charm” as Ochtman’s.

[33]Charles Henry Caffin, The Story of American Painting; The Evolution of Painting in America, (NY: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1907), p.345.

[34]“Art Notes,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 6/21/1896, p.31.

[35]Op. cit., Merritt, Brush and Pencil, March 1902, p.342.

[36]Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14.

[37]A letter to Anna Stacey from William M. R. French, French Letters, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 10/29/1902, announces the award. The quotation appears in “Annual Art Show Begins,” Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9. Village at Twilight won the Martin B. Cahn prize in 1902, for the best painting by a Chicago artist at the annual exhibition by American artists at the Art Institute of Chicago.

[38]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/28/1908, p.4.

[39]Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/5/1907, p.7.

[40]Kenneth Ross, “Anna Lee Stacey One Of Best Woman Painters,” Pasadena Star News, 4/18/1942, p.3.

[41]Mention of Stacey’s prize is made in Francis C. Bennett, editor, History of Music and Art in Illinois, ([Location unknown]: Societé Universelle Lyriquie, 1904), p. 515. It erroneously states the year was 1896; that year the prize was awarded to Sara Shewell Hayden (1862-1939) for Portrait of My Sister, illustrated with a sketch rendering in “Chicago Art On View. First Salon On The West Side,” Chicago Record, 3/7/1896, p.10. Stacey’s prize was announced in “The Arts,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 2/21/1897, Part. 3, p.27, and “Salon,” Arts For America, Central Art Association, Vol. 6, No. 7, March 1897, p.223.

[42]“Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/20/1897, p.10.

[43]The painting was illustrated in James S. Dickerson, “A Chicago Renaissance?,” Brush and Pencil, Vol. 1, No. 6, March 1898, p.188.

[44]“Honors Won By Chicago,” Chicago Times-Herald, 8/19/1900, part 2, p.5, and “Chicagoans Win The Lion’s Share,” Chicago American, 8/19/1900, p.42.

[45]“Celebrated Artists Engaged By The Tribune For Special Paintings of Kirmess Dancers,” “Mrs. Anna L. Stacey, Noted for Her Work,” Chicago Tribune, 1/10/1906, p.2.

[46]“1900,” Peter Hastings Falk, editor, Art Institute of Chicago, The Annual Exhibition Record, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990), pp.851, 854.

[47]All locations unknown.

[48]Op. cit., Bennett, History of Music and Art in Illinois, p.515. This prize was given at the Annual Exhibition of Chicago Artists at the Art Institute, and went to the best painting of the show, won by Adolph R. Shulz (1869-1963). The honorable mention went to the second best. Another newspaper article stated the prize was awarded the painting Ebb Tide, “Gain Shown In Art,” Daily Inter Ocean, 2/28/1900, p.4.

[49]It would be an almost certainty that that the first influence on her tonal work came from Leonard Ochtman. At the Pan-American Exposition both artist and teacher exhibited, Ochtman showing Moonlight Long Island Sound; The Solitary Road, and Early Winter in Connecticut. See Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901, (Buffalo, NY: David Gray Publishers, 1901; Brewster, NY, Olana Gallery reprint, n.d.), pp.17, 37.

[50]For examples of her painting titles which reflect a new thematic exploration see op. cit., Falk, Art Institute of Chicago…, p.851, for the years 1900 through 1904.

[51]Op. cit., Chicago Record-Herald, 2/11/1902, p.7.

[52]Anna and John Franklin were among the earliest tenants at the artist residences Tree Studios. They moved in around 1898 and by 1920 when the building was sold had been there continuously for twenty-two years. Maude Martin Ellis, “Sale Of Studio Building Stirs Artists’ Colony,” Chicago Tribune, 11/29/1920, p.17. Despite threats of change, the building remained a residence for them and other artists.

[53]Louise Riedel, “Student Life at Delavan,” Brush and Pencil, Vol. 2, No.3, June 1898, pp.115-116.

[54]Op. cit., Brand, Pasadena Star-News, 2/5/1940, p.3.

[55]Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14.

[56]See for example Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/23/1903, p.14, 8/20/1904, p.9; 6/24/1905, p.8, respectively.

[57]Harriet Monroe, “One Man Shows Allow Wide Choice,” Chicago Tribune, 3/17/1912, part 2, p.5.

[58]The O’Briens Art Gallery Paintings By The Staceys, (Chicago: O’Brien Art Galleries, 1931), Ryerson Library, O’Briens Art Emporium scrapbook, pp.124-126.

[59]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 8/20/1904, p.9.

[60]“Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/17/1906, p.5. The Post article states they planned on being in Spain, most likely, where they were, then came back through Gloucester where they spent the remainder of the summer. Isabel McDougall, no article title, Sunday Chicago Record-Herald, 9/30/1906 in Art Institute of Chicago Scrapbooks, vol. 22, col. 3, p.60.

[61]Lena McCauley, “Art and Artists” Chicago Evening Post, 4/2/1910, p.6.

[62]Maude I. G. Oliver, “Gossip Of The Artists,” Chicago Record-Herald, 6/2/1912, sec. 5, p.4.

[63]Date taken from a 1914 painting signed and dated by the artist, in possession of the Illinois Historical Art Project.

[64]Lena M. McCauley, “Our Painters Afield,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/19/1929, p.10, and “Gossip,” 7/23/1929, p.2.

[65]Maude I. G. Oliver, “Among the Artists,” Chicago Record-Herald, 9/11/1910, part 7, p.4. They were in Bruges.

[66]James William Pattison, “Exhibitions In Chicago,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 25, February 1912, p.170.

[67]Edward G. Holden, “In the Field of Art: Bits of New England Beauty,” Chicago Tribune, 10/18/1903, p.57.

[68]Mae J. Evans, “What Chicago Artists Have Accomplished This Summer,” Sunday Inter Ocean, 9/13/1908, Magazine Section, p.2. See also Cape Ann Shore, 7/4/1908, p. 5. (The Cape Ann Shore, was a weekly newspaper that is no longer published). The Staceys “leased the house studio for another season.”

[69]For example the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she was accepted for the annual shows of 1908-1910, 1911, 1915, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, American Annual of 1910, and Corcoran Gallery of Art biennial 1910

[70]Lyme Historical Society, Florence Griswold Museum, exhibition brochures, 1924 through 1928.

[71]“Chicago Woman whom Three Artists are Portraying,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, 5/4/1902, Magazine section, p.2.

[72]Op. cit., Falk, The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago, p. 851.

[73]Op. cit., Merritt, Brush and Pencil, March 1902, p.341.

[74]Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14.

[75]“Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/15/1902, p.4, and William Vernon, “Exposition Lesson for Lovers of Art,” Chicago American, 2/9/1902, p.8.

[76]Op. cit., Chicago Daily News, 2/8/1902, p.14.

[77]Henry Charles Payne, “Merits Of Pictures Shown At The Annual Exhibit By Chicago Artists,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 2/23/1902, Magazine section, p.10.

[78]Henry Charles Payne, “Pictures Good And Bad In The Chicago Artists’ Exhibit,” Chicago Inter Ocean, 3/2/1902, Magazine section, p.10. Payne later questions in the article the cause for why Anna’s work sold while other, equally good work did not.

[79]Chicago Evening News, 10/29/1902, p.4. “Annual Art Show Begins,” Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9. The Cahn prize award was one hundred dollars and given to the best painting by a Chicago artist. See also William Vernon, “Mrs. Anna L. Stacey Wins Martin B. Cahn Prize In Exhibition Of The Works Of Western Artists,” Chicago American, 10/29/1902, p.8.

[80]Op. cit., Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9.

[81]Op. cit., Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9.

[82]Op. cit., Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9.

[83]Op. cit., Chicago Chronicle, 11/2/1902, p.9.

[84]James William Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 2/15/1902, p.4.

[85]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 2/4/1911, p.11.

[86]Op. cit., Holden, Chicago Tribune, 10/18/1903, p.57.

[87]Op. cit., Merritt, Brush and Pencil, March 1902, p.342.

[88]Op. cit., Monroe, Chicago Tribune, 3/17/1912, part 2, p.5.

[89]See the Sunday Chicago Record Herald, 3/5/1905, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 20, p.158. [Issues of the Sunday edition were not microfilmed by the Chicago Public Library]. Her one-man exhibition at the Art Institute included thirty-nine works that displayed this broad range in her palette. She painted Mount Vesuvius in “an afterglow…” and “an evening mist softens every outline.” Another painting was described as a “low-toned, tuneful canvas… veiled in [dark] purple beneath a gray sky.” Another work was described as “brilliant…with its steps of pink, red and white…” Another work was dominated by “Orange and yellow sails…” And finally, one piece “scintillates with color…” Speaking of her ability with tonalism critic George Breed Zug stated, “…there is a softness of tone, a harmony of color, a truthfulness to the mystery and the color of the hour… she gets the quality of the night, the appearance of the moonlight...” George Breed Zug, “Among the Art Galleries,” Sunday Inter Ocean, Magazine, 6/15/1913, p.5. Noted critic James Pattison aptly stated, the “twilight demands attention because of the courage with which she has painted almost no light.” James William Pattison “The Annual Exhibition of American Art,” Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 26, January 1912, p.36.

[90]Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/16/1907, p.9 [after financial section]. This phrase was used to describe A Spanking Breeze (private collection, courtesy of Greenwich Gallery, Connecticut), which won the Marshall Field prize and was subsequently purchased by the Chicago Woman’s Club, later deaccessioned. It was also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

[91]Op. cit., Ross, Pasadena Star News, 4/18/1942, p.3.




The hallmark differential of style between Mr. and Mrs. Stacey remained throughout their lives and they continued to pepper their imaginations with peripatetic travel. As critic Eleanor Jewett noted much later in their careers, their paintings were “…not stultified nor crystallized. These canvases are as fresh, vigorous enthusiastic and new in feeling as though they who wielded the brushes were in their twenties.”[1]


Anna’s interest in depicting people naturally led to work in portraiture. Her portrait of Mrs. D. Hamilton entitled, Firelight Fancies (location unknown), a pastel from the 1902 American watercolor annual, was illustrated in the Chicago Tribune.[2] By 1902, Anna had begun creating more and more portraits and invested them with interesting, story-telling titles. She was quoted in the press on the subject of titles as saying:


“An attractive, telling title goes a great way in interesting people in a picture… Unless the subject of a picture is familiar enough to tell its own story, aid of this sort is well worth while… Many a picture would command enhanced interest from a more descriptive title… or whatever may have inspired the picture. It certainly can do no harm to make a picture as intelligible as practicable to the spectator.”[3]


It was in 1903 when critic Lena McCauley stated the portrait of Mrs. Lancaster “has been pronounced as the best piece of portraiture that has come from this artist’s brush.” McCauley further described it as “rich in color and a thing of beauty.”[4] The same year her work was accepted by the jury of the Society of American Artists.[5] The next year McCauley marked Anna’s advancement in portraiture by stating, “Mrs. Stacey has revealed a versatility and the fruits of arduous labor that rank her far beyond the good things she presented to the public in the past and that won the prizes of former seasons.”[6]


The culmination of Anna’s early career was the honor of a one-person exhibition in 1905 at the Art Institute of Chicago.[7] She showed thirty-nine canvases, many from her recent six-month trip to Italy,[8] and in another succinct comment on her capabilities a critic stated:


“So varied is the treatment that no one would imagine the roomful of canvases to be the work of one person or that person to be a woman. It is a cheerful, happy showing, betraying unsuspected talent. Mrs. Stacey’s former paintings of children, figure pieces and boat studies in New England gave no hint of the grasp of spaciousness of atmosphere such as we see in the sweeping views across the Bay of Naples, or the fidelity to architectural detail like that brought out in the study of a great Venetian façade... Mrs. Stacey painted with a free brush, and under the inspiration of favorable surroundings. The results culminate in the best work that she has ever placed before the public.”[9]


The press outpouring was overwhelmingly favorable. Her colorful palette produced Italian skies which were “reproduced with exquisite finesse.”[10] Italy, described as that “land of sunshine,” was rendered with “considerable originality and presented… under unusual atmospheric conditions.”[11] This exhibition represented a marking point in her career, where two divergent paths, so very unusual in one artistic mind, one tonal and the other bright and gay, came to the fore and impressed everyone, and as a critic noted about her works:


“They show increased facility of expression and an ability to render atmosphere, ‘envelope,’ heretofore unequaled by her. She has always found pleasure in bright tones, but the prevailing lights of Italy, its atmospheric conditions, have muted her color scale. Her range of subjects has also broadened.[12]


The favorable criticism continued unbridled as the exhibition of Chicago artists opened in the Art Institute on January 30, 1906. The critic of the Chicago Chronicle was effusive and notably impressed by her painting Maid of Gloucester (location unknown):


“This painting has been the shrine of the colorists since the opening of the exhibition. No one of poetic temperament could fail to be affected by this inspired work. Shear beauty as a gospel… finds splendid exemplification in the work… one of those paintings to see which makes it worth while to have lived and worthwhile to continue living.”[13]


The Art Institute show was followed in 1908 by an exhibition at the New Gallery of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where Anna was feted with a tea.[14] A 1910 exhibit at the new Kelley Brothers American Art Galleries in Chicago, which featured much of her recent work from the Stacey’s travels in Belgium followed,[15] Afterwards, there was a 1912 exhibit at the Artists’ Guild of Chicago, where almost three hundred people attended the opening.[16] In all three instances, husband John let his wife hold center stage, and probably declined offers to show his works along side his wife’s.


However, there existed a small and friendly rivalry between husband and as they matched each other with prizes. The local press once pictured the two artists with samples of their work side by side and in describing their work implying they were inseparable as an artist team.[17] Where Anna had won an award from the West End Woman’s Club, John had won an award from the club a few years later.[18] Where John had won a purchase prize from the Union League Club in late winter,[19] Anna won one from the same club in the fall. Anna was accepted at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, as was John, who then garnered a bronze medal. Anna won first prize at the venerable Marshall Field & Company Galleries’ exhibition of Chicago artists and husband John won second prize.[20] Far away from Chicago, in Richmond, Indiana, the local press was commenting on a Richmond Art Association show of Chicago artists and gave a perspective which was already well apparent in Chicago:


“[Stacey] could not have had a better one [contribution]… that would reflect greater credit to himself and his work. His wife, Anna L. Stacey, closely rivals her husband, so far as gaining local favor is concerned. Her two pictures are exceedingly well done.”[21]


Shortly afterwards, John won the Mrs. William Frederick Grower Prize at the annual exhibition of Chicago artists at the Art Institute in 1911.[22] Anna won the Clyde M. Carr Landscape Prize at the same exhibit the next year,[23] critic Lena M. McCauley wrote an article describing the powerful husband wife duo:[24]


“Whether it was the remoteness from things known, the influence of a vanished magnificence, rich in the beauty of poetry and art, or if it is but a natural progression, is a question, but in the matter of art both John F. and Anna Stacey have traveled a long way, and everyone who is privileged to see the entire group of paintings done in Spain must rejoice in their vigor and a certain fundamental power supporting the artistic message from the ancient stronghold of the Moors.”[25]


The second period of Anna’s career was marked by the outbreak of World War I, which would change society’s values forever. Her second one-person show at the Art Institute of Chicago, which opened on April 9, 1914, was well received. Fifty-four canvases, portraits and landscapes alike, were on display, including many of her better- known works as well as recent pieces from travels in Belgium, Quebec and Spain.[26] One of these pieces, Vista From Ponte de Leon (unlocated) was purchased by the city of Chicago for placement in the public schools. This milestone event was the first purchase made by the newly established Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art.[27]


Summarizing her advances in painting upon return from Europe a critic said:


“Mrs. Anna L. Stacey’s exhibition of paintings… is characterized by two interesting features – her appreciable advance in her art, and her unusual versatility in its expressions… in which she discloses verve and daring… These fifty or more pictures cover a wide range, phases of nature, seasons and the various interesting differences of other lands, and in every one of these transcriptions Mrs. Stacey shows talent grown stronger with the days.”[28]


The critic for American Art News commented favorably on her portrait work saying, “They seem to express an inner shrine of the soul…”[29] Critic Effa Webster also marked this juncture in Anna’s career by making references to her early success as a point of “arrival,” and commenting upon her “remarkable scope in versatility, ranging from courageous expressions of tumultuous subjects to the most subtle reflection of animate and inanimate life.” Webster called Anna’s portraits a “certain spiritualization of the individual.”[30] It would seem at this point in her life, at age fifty, the artist had achieved the pinnacle of her career. In retrospect, it almost appears as if the critics were speaking of someone much younger, someone who was bursting upon the scene. That Anna was now firmly established as a great Chicago artist is clear. This period became marked by a steady flow of portrait commissions stemming from her increased fame.


Several years earlier, critic McCauley had openly “wished that she would give her time to more of this serious work” of portraiture.[31] Her portraits were often three quarter-view,[32] sometimes depicting the subject with an animal, as in Two Chums (location unknown), a picture of girl and an English bull terrier,[33] or lost in thought as in Day Dream (location unknown).[34] Sometimes the artist managed to combine a portrait with a still life painting, a milieu she would later explore in depth.[35] Maude I.G. Oliver wrote that Queen Anne’s Lace (location unknown) revealed Anna was “blossoming out… as a painter of portraits.”[36] At times she carried her “idealized” work into portraiture as most readily seen in her portrait of Mrs. Kirk, designed to show the soul of the sitter.[37]


By 1918, she had become recognized as one of the thirteen most important portrait painters in the city when the venerable Carson Pirie Scott & Company Gallery hosted an Exhibition by Chicago Portrait Painters, including only the finest artists in the city. Anna was considered among the “most noted of our Chicago portrait painters.”[38] Others included in this exhibition were Oliver Dennett Grover (1860-1927), E. Martin Hennings (1886-1956), Pauline Palmer (1867-1938) and Arvid Frederick Nyholm (1866-1927).[39]


Throughout the past decade defined by her one-person exhibitions at the Art Institute in 1905 and again in 1914, Anna had taken an active role in the Art community of Chicago. As early as 1885, in her home town, she showed a tendency for participation in organizations as she had been active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.[40] Her Chicago club memberships included the Chicago Society of Artists, in which husband John was president from 1907 to 1910, the Artists’ Guild, where she served six years as a director,[41] Chicago Water Color Club, where she served as a director from 1907-1908, Cordon Club, which was a woman’s only organization, and the Municipal Art League, which had the broadest reaching mission of all groups in Chicago. Husband John held memberships in all of these organizations as well. (The all woman’s Cordon Club had an all- male counterpart, to which John belonged, the Cliff Dwellers Club, still extant today, though not just for males). During the annual exhibitions at the Art Institute, the Municipal Art League would schedule up to fifty civic organizations to view the shows; Anna often served as a tour guide and was present at the teas to answer questions. Such was the place of an established female artist of the period. And while it may seem out of place today, it was an honor to serve on one of the beauty contests held by various businesses and other organizations; she served as a judge for one such contest for the Chicago Retail Druggist Association, when over 200,000 ballots were cast.[42]


The Staceys made their first trip to California in 1915, where they would eventually retire. A number of artists were hired by the Santa Fe Railroad to produce work for the railroad to use in promotional campaigns. The railroad covered travel expenses for three to four weeks in exchange for the artist’s work.[43] After seeing their own work at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and visiting the Grand Canyon, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Los Angeles, they “settled down to paint” at Belvidere, California.[44] The same year, their works were accepted for the American section of the art exhibition at the. The Exposition was held to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and included 11,400 works of art from around the world. The American section was particularly impressive and the European section included early examples of cubism, futurism and orphism. Anna exhibited In Furs (location unknown) and Moonlight Granada (location unknown).[45] The state of Illinois had a pavilion at the fair featuring Illinois artists and the Staceys were among those whose works were shown there.


The third phase of her career, comprising that of the successful and mature club-woman, ended with a one-person exhibition at the Art Institute, just as other phases were similarly marked. Of greatest importance, though, was the inclusion of husband John’s work in the joint show. The exhibition was held in the winter 1920-1921, and opened with a luncheon and reception, the “chief social event of Friday afternoon.”[46] The show displayed the full range of their combined efforts through long vocations that now found Anna at age fifty-five and husband John aged sixty-one. Critic Eleanor Jewett commented upon their wide capabilities by saying:


“With the variety of subjects depicted it is a difficult matter to tear one’s self away from the room without making at least one step backward to every two out [of the room], for a last glance at just this one or just that.”[47]


Critic Lena McCauly added:


“The first impression is that of amazement that the artist had the energy and talent to paint so many points of view with unfailing enthusiasm… she never repeats herself and her versatility is perennial.”[48]


Anna’s painting Lifting Fog, Gloucester Harbor (location unknown), prompted critic Eleanor Jewett to publish this poem:


Gray mornings spun with silver

            When the ships within the bay

Lie at anchor, waiting, silent,

            For the hesitant new day.

Gray mornings spun with silver

When the lost dreams of the night

Come to harbor at the dawning,

            Drifting rose and gold and white.

Ghost ships that lie at anchor,

            Pale against a misted sky-

If you take my dreams for cargo

            Will they come back, by and by?[49]


The joint exhibit at the Art Institute began a series of joint exhibits which included 1923 at Ackermann Art Galleries,[50] 1927 at Chicago Galleries Association,[51] 1928 at Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. Gallery,[52] and 1931 at O’Brien Art Galleries, also in Chicago.[53] The final exhibit at the Art Institute began a new phase for Anna. She started to focus keenly upon still life painting fresh flowers in a variety of vases were a popular subject for her, more decorative than her landscape or figural works. In a review of her exhibition history at the Art Institute from 1921 through 1928, at least half of the paintings were still life subjects. Prior to this period, she almost never exhibited such works. Critic Eleanor Jewett said of her recent turn to this new subject matter:


“One of the three or four beautiful paintings of flowers is ‘Bittersweet,’ by Anna Lee Stacey. This canvas comes as rather a surprise, as one before had connected Mrs. Stacey’s talent with poetic landscape or attractive portraiture, but here she is shown in another though equally successful guise as a master of the intricate subtleties of still life.”[54]


But while she won the Mr. & Mrs. Frank G. Logan Second Medal in 1921 and the Julia Knapp Memorial Prize in 1922, both at the annual exhibit of Chicago artists, neither prize was for still-life work.[55]


[1]Eleanor Jewett, “Paintings by the Staceys,” Chicago Tribune, 3/8/1931 part. 8, p.4

[2]Op. cit., Chicago Tribune, 5/4/1902, Magazine section, p.2.

[3]“Pictures and Titles,” Chicago Tribune, 5/3/1903, p.55.

[4]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 5/30/1903, p.14.

[5]James W. Pattison, “Pattison’s Art Talk,” Chicago Journal, 3/28/1903, p.3.

[6]Lena M. McCauley, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/30/1904, p.8. It is interesting to note that the two paintings under discussion were The Summer Girl (location unknown) and The Winter Girl (location unknown), two subjects with the same title exhibited by Pauline Palmer almost a decade later.

[7]Leading up to this exhibition was acceptance by the jury for the 1904 Universal Exposition at the “Louisiana Purchase” World’s Fair in St. Louis, and admittance to the prestigious Society of Western Artists in 1903. She had also been considered among the ten leading women artists in Chicago when Williams Barker & Co. held their auction sale of 1901, see “City News,” Chicago Record-Herald, 4/8/1901, 4/9/1901, 4/10/1910.

[8]“Painting In Annual Exhibit At Art Institute,” Chicago Chronicle, 3/12/1905, Part 2, p.9

[9]Lena M. McCauley, “Art,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/4/1905, p.7. Her Neapolitan Mother, was illustrated with the article. The exhibition was also thoroughly reviewed in op. cit., Sunday Chicago Record Herald, 3/5/1905.

[10]Op. cit., Chicago Chronicle, 3/12/1905, Part 2, p.9.

[11]Op. cit., Chicago Record-Herald, 3/5/1905.

[12]Sunday Chicago Record-Herald, 3/12/1905 in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 20, col. 3, p.162.

[13]“Local Artists Popular” Chicago Chronicle, 2/12/1906, p.7.

[14]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists”, Chicago Evening Post, 3/21/1908, p.8 and 3/28/1908, p.4. The painting which had been awarded the Marshall Field prize was on exhibit as well. See also “Chicago,” American Art News, Vol. 6, 4/4/1908, p.2.

[15]“Paintings Exhibited By Chicago Woman, Mrs. Stacey, Which Attract Attention,” Chicago Journal, 12/5/1910, p.4.

[16]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 3/14/1912, p.6. Anna was on the board of the Artists’ Guild from 1911-1917. Edward M. Ericson, An Illustrated Award of Works by American Arts and Crafts Workers, (Chicago: The Artists’ Guild, 1914), p.18. The Artists’ Guild was incorporated in 1911 with three primary goals: to establish a cooperative shop for all craftsmen to sell their works from the Fine Arts Building; to promote the creation and sale of art and to maintain a source of information for artists and craftsmen.

[17]“Chicago Artists and Pictures Exhibited at Art Institute,” Chicago Journal, 2/8/1909, p.4.

[18]The club purchased his painting from the 1899 annual exhibition of Chicago artists.

[19]James William Pattison, Chicago Journal, 3/5/1902, p.4.

[20]No article title, Chicago Daily News, 11/16/1907, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 23, col. 2, p.98.

[21]Unknown Richmond, Indiana newspaper, 6/17/1907, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 23, col. 4, p.35, col. 1, p.36.

[22]“Stacey Gets Group Prize,” Chicago Examiner, 2/4/1911, p.11.

[23]The prize was given for the best landscape of the exhibition for her Moonlight Auvers, France (location unknown), which was later purchased by the Tuesday Art and Travel Club to be placed in local schools on a rotating basis. “Art Club Buys Painting,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/8/1912, p.10, and H. Effa Webster, “Carr Award Hovered over Many Pictures,” Chicago Examiner, 2/28/1912, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 28, col. 4, p.159.

[24]As an interesting aside, John could be prone to a strong temper, a man who would use his large size if he had to. In one slightly amusing altercation Anna called in the Art Institute guard rather than allow John’s dispute with a critic get out of hand. “Artist and Critic Clash,” Chicago Tribune, 3/3/1909, p.3.

[25]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 10/24/1912, p.8.

[26]“Painting Exhibited By A Chicagoan,” Chicago Daily News, 4/9/1914, p.14. Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/9/1914, p.8. Harriet Monroe, “The Orient an Influence on the Architecture of Wright,” Chicago Tribune, 4/12/1914, p.G5.

[27]Anita De Campi, “Thirteen Chicagoans Win in Municipal Art Contest,” Chicago Tribune, 12/18/1914, p.17.

[28]“Canvas Shows Growth of Mrs. Stacey’s Art,” Chicago Daily Journal, 4/11/1914, p.6.

[29]“Mrs. Stacey’s Institute Show,” American Art News, Vol. 12, No. 28, 4/18/1914, p.7.

[30]H. Effa Webster, “Chicago Architectural Club Give Its Twenty-Seventh Annual Exhibition,” Chicago Examiner, 4/11/1914, in Art Institute of Chicago scrapbooks, vol. 31, col. 4, p.127.

[31]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artists,” Chicago Evening Post, 4/17/1909, p.4.

[32]A later example is her portrait of Mrs. Lawrence Sanford Critchell (location unknown), illustrated in “Society,” Chicago Record Herald, 4/10/1914, p.4. Other examples are two portraits illustrated in “Art and Artists,” Chicago Journal, 4/16/1918, p.8. and her portrait of Mrs. Baxter, “Society News and Happenings,” Chicago Evening Post, 11/8/1918, p.6.

[33]Op. cit., Chicago Journal, 2/8/1909, p.4. Two Chums is illustrated.

[34]The painting was illustrated in “Attractive Picture at the Art Institute,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/27/1906, p.5.

[35]For a good example see the portrait of Mrs. Seville in Eleanor Jewett, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 12/19/1920, part 9, p.2.

[36]Maude I. G. Oliver, “Among the Artists,” Chicago Sunday Record-Herald, 4/12/1914, section 5, p.8. The painting is illustrated with the article and provides an extensive review of her work.

[37]“Portrait of Mrs. Milton W. Kirk ‘The Voice of the Soul’ Called ‘Painted Idea’,” Chicago Record-Herald, 5/29/1911, p.4.

[38]Agnes Gertrude Richards, “The Artists’ Guild Exhibition,” Fine Arts Journal, November 1918, Vol. 36, No. 11, p.30.

[39]The Editor, “Exhibition of Chicago Portrait Painters,” Fine Arts Journal, November 1918, Vol. 36, No. 11, pp.35-40. These artists are all featured with essays in this book and considered among the forty greatest artists of Illinois.

[40]Op. cit., Op. cit., King, Index of the Glasgow Journal, 1995.

[41]Anna was also a lecturer at the Guild. The Artists’ Guild Report, (Chicago: The Artists’ Guild, March 1914), p.11, Chicago Historical Society. Her term with the Guild, whose members later formed today’s Arts Club of Chicago, was crowned in 1917 with the award of the Guild prize at the annual exhibition of Chicago artists. This was followed in the spring of 1918 with the Fine Arts Building Prize at the Guild’s competitive annual. Lena M. McCauley, “News Of The Art World,” supplement, Chicago Evening Post, 4/23/1918. The prize was awarded her painting Old Houses in Moonlight (location unknown). John had won honorable mention the previous fall in the same semiannual show. The Guild was a highly respected organization in Chicago whose members were among the city’s most important artists. It was this solid core which made the founding of the Arts Club so successful.

[42]“Ask Artists to Judge Beauty Contestants,” Chicago Evening Post, 12/8/1916, p.6. Pauline Palmer, the most prominent other woman artist in Chicago, was also on the panel.

[43]Sandra D. Emilio, and Suzan Campbell, Visions & Visionaries. The Art & Artists of the Santa Fe Railway, (Layton, UT: Gibbs-Smith, 1991), p.10. John’s painting was titled, Grand Canyon from Bright Angel. Anna’s painting was titled On the Canyon’s Rim. An inventory of the Santa Fe collection was still being compiled at the time of this writing. John’s painting was deaccessioned through a Taos, New Mexico dealer. The fate of Anna’s work is unknown.

[44]Lena M. McCauley, “Art and Artist,” Chicago Evening Post, 6/24/1915, p.8, and 8/14/1915, p.8. Belvidere was described as a “painter’s paradise.” The article misspells the town as “Belvedere.”

[45]Illustrated Official Catalogue. Department of Fine Arts. Panama-Pacific International, (San Francisco: Wahlgreen Company, 1915), p.183.

[46]Lena M. McCauley, “Anna Lee Stacey,” in “News of the Art World,” supplement, Chicago Evening Post, 12/21/1920, p.13.

[47]Eleanor Jewett, “Art: Interesting Study of Technique in Stacey Paintings,” Chicago Tribune, 1/9/1921, part 7, p.9.

[48]Op. cit., McCauley, Chicago Evening Post, 12/21/1920, p.13.

[49]Op. cit., Jewett, Chicago Tribune, 1/9/1921, part 7, p.9. Note, in their exhibition at Ackermann Art Galleries in 1923, it was mistakenly printed in the exhibition brochure that the poem was inspired by her painting Rose and Silver (location unknown). A copy of this brochure is in the Stacey pamphlet file, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago.

[50]“The Art Dealers,” in “News of the Art World,” supplement, Chicago Evening Post, 5/22/1923.

[51]Lena M. McCauley, “Mr. and Mrs. Stacey and Maynard Dixon,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/1/1927, p.5. Her Portrait of Mrs. Helen Watson (location unknown), was illustrated in the 3/8/1927 issue, p.2.

[52]“The Staceys at Carson’s,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/13/1928, p.2. Her Mimosa and Fruit (location unknown), was illustrated on p.6, and Lena M. McCauley, “Mr. and Mrs. Stacey Have Combined Shows,” in the 3/20/1928 issue, p.12. Her Portrait of Mrs. Theodore White Smith (location unknown), was illustrated in the 4/3/1928 issue, p.5. An extensive review appeared in Eleanor Jewett, “Landscapes, Still Life and Portraits All Represented,” Chicago Tribune, 3/18/1928, part 8, p.4. The exhibition catalogue may be found in the Stacey pamphlet file, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago: Paintings by John F. Stacey and Anna Lee Stacey, (Chicago: Carson Pirie Scott & Co., 1928). Mimosa and Fruit, is also illustrated.

[53]Tom Vickerman, “The Two Staceys Exhibit at O’Brien’s,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/10/1931, p.2. Vickerman provides a strong review and the article is illustrated with one of Anna’s paintings.

[54]Eleanor Jewett, “Art And Artists,” Chicago Tribune, 11/12/1922, part 7, p.18.

[55]The Logan Medal was awarded her portrait The Dansant (location unknown). Eleanor Jewett, “Art,” Chicago Tribune, 1/30/1921, p.F9. The Knapp prize was awarded her painting In Days of Peace (location unknown).


In 1928, John retired from thirty years of teaching at the R. T. Crane School.[1] They spent the summer at their usual haunt in Old Lyme, Connecticut,[2] then left the following spring for Europe. The only means we have today of following their travels are newspaper clippings. They remained abroad for a year and one have, returning in October 1930.[3] By 1933 the Century of Progress World’s Fair had arrived in Chicago and included a popular international art exhibition as well as an American section where the Stacey’s work was shown. John and Anna also exhibited with a few organizations such as the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors and the Chicago Galleries Association, but they were by this time, very much in a retirement mode. Anna was almost seventy and John seventy-five. That they continued working this late into their already long lives is a tribute to their love for their work.


In 1937, the Staceys moved to Pasadena, California.[4] John’s doctor had recommended a warmer climate and the two had previously discussed moving to California upon retirement. Anna described Pasadena as “the most all around beautiful and livable place in the world… Yes, this city is just the place for artists to live. I’m going to do my best work here.”[5] She was invited to join the Pasadena Society of Artists and in 1938, she exhibited two works.[6]


Anna joined right in with local club activity. She took membership in the Ebell Club, a Los Angeles women’s club that produced plays and other events to benefit women’s education.[7] She was also a member of the Shakespeare Club of Pasadena, also a women’s club; it was formed in 1888 with the ideals covering “social, cultural, and intellectual improvement.” The club was also dedicated to charitable work for the community. The club’s slogan was, “gently to hear, kindly to judge.”[8] Anna hosted the members at her studio in 1939, in a program titled “Oh, had I but followed the arts.”[9] She served as hostess for an exhibition at the Vista del Arroyo Hotel in Pasadena of “Old Masters.”[10] And in 1940-41 she served on the art and travel general committee.[11]


As early as 1910 Anna was referred to as a “progressive artist.”[12] But, when modernity came to the fore in American Art, Anna did not change her style and continued to paint in same style that brought her acclaim throughout a long career. A letter written to critic Eleanor Jewett while traveling in Europe in 1929 aptly portrays Mrs. Stacey’s thoughts on modern art:


“The Paris Salon is very sane, but too big and too many bad student pictures to let one find and appreciate the good ones. Also, miles of awful rot being exploited by the dealers that is not worth a moment’s serious thought. All the sane people here tell us it is purely a dealer’s game and not to be considered seriously a moment, but it is far from a good influence on many artists who think they can succeed by loafing around the cafes, drinking and talking and not studying, but thinking they can trust to inspiration and a natural flair and get away with it, too. Fine pictures cannot be painted that way!”[13]


She continued to paint what she saw, an interpretation that would not leave a viewer wondering. John had always been an active voice against the advent of modernism,[14] and Anna exhibited with the Society for Sanity in Art, a group vehemently against modernism. Organized and supported by Mrs. Josephine Hancock Logan of Chicago, Mrs. Logan and her husband had established the Logan award at the Art Institute, to “grant awards and medals to the best examples of painting and sculpture as selected by the juries as appointed for that purpose.”[15] As the awards in Mrs. Logan’s eyes went awry with modernism, she formed the society to pose an organized front against what she termed “sinister chicanery.”[16] Anna exhibited her work with the society at the local branch in Los Angeles in 1940 and at the second national exhibition in 1941.[17]


Anna lost her husband John on February 3, 1941, just shy of his eighty-second birthday. He bequeathed thirty paintings to the Pasadena School System to be hung on the walls of Pasadena schools.[18] Anna died two years later on March 4, 1943, like her husband, she died quietly at home. Both Anna and John were cremated and their ashes placed in Evergreen Cemetery in Brighton, Massachusetts.[19]


Active and interested in art until their time of calling, Anna’s last one- person show was in 1942.[20] They left a legacy that continues to this day. They established the John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship fund for “worthy and serious-minded students of conservative art, namely painting and drawing.”[21] The purpose of this scholarship is in accordance with the “clear stipulation” of her will “to foster a high standard of form, color, drawing, painting, design, and technique, as these are expressed in modes showing patent affinity with the classical tradition of western culture.” As further stated, with a “predisposition in favor of realism or naturalism.”[22]


Anna Lee Stacey devoted her life to her art; she never had children. She received acclaim in the local press, won awards and exhibited in numerous shows. Her reputation was developed in Chicago, and although she showed extensively elsewhere, it seemed to remain at the local level. She had a prodigious output and worked until the very end. Her style was varied but she always painted what she thought was the truth; her subject matter derived from the many sights from her travels, included scenery and people, portraits and still life. Despite the great acclaim during her life, her reputation has faded and she is little heard of now. But her art today stands the test of time, as among the most able American Impressionists working in the early part of the 20th century.


[1]Op. cit., Jewett, “Connecticut Acres,” captions, Chicago Tribune, 4/22/1928, Part 8, p.6.

[2]“Random Notes About Art and Artists,” The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 9/18/1928, p.5. The article said they were overjoyed at not having to hurry about, now that John was retired. See also Eleanor Jewett, “Artists Compete for Traveling Scholarships,” Chicago Tribune, 6/17/1928, p.6.

[3]Op. cit., McCauley, The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/19/1929, p.10 and “Gossip,” 7/23/1929, p.2. See also The O’Briens Art Gallery, Paintings By The Staceys, (Chicago: O’Brien Art Galleries, 1931), Ryerson Library, O’Briens Art Emporium scrapbook, pp.124-126, and op. cit., Vickerman, The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 3/10/1931, p.2.

[4]Eleanor Jewett, “Chicago Loses Two Painters to California,” Chicago Tribune, 9/12/1937, part 8, p.4.

[5]Op. cit., Brand, Pasadena Star-News, 2/5/1940, p.3.

[6]Pasadena Society of Artists, 1938. Los Angeles Museum of Art, exhibition folder, (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Museum of Art, January, 1938).

[7]“Mrs. Anna Stacey, Artist, Dies At Home Here,” Pasadena Star News, 3/5/1943, Pasadena Public Library, Fine Arts Room. The article also noted her membership in the Pasadena Society of Artists, California Artists (Hollywood) and Friday Morning Club.

[8]Membership roles of the Shakespeare Club, (Shakespeare Club, Pasadena California).

[9]Minutes of the Shakespeare Club, 1939, p.23. (Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California).

[10]Minutes of the Shakespeare Club, 1939-1940, p.20.

[11]Minutes of the Shakespeare Club, 1940-1941, p.15.

[12]Fred W. Sandberg, “Chicago Artists Plan Central Exhibit; Interesting Work of Native Painters,” Chicago Tribune, 12/18/1910, section 2, p.9.

[13]Eleanor Jewett, “Cudney Loan Attractively Displayed at Art Institute: News From the Staceys,” Chicago Tribune, 8/11/1929, p.F8.

[14]Op. cit., Jewett, Chicago Tribune, 9/12/1937,  part 8, p.4.

[15]Josephine Hancock Logan, Sanity in Art, (Chicago: A Kroch, 1937), p.2.

[16]Op. cit., Logan, Sanity in Art, p.8.

[17]Catalog of the Third Exhibition of the Los Angeles Branch, Society for Sanity in Art, Inc., (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Museum of Art, 8/30/1940), and Second National Exhibition of the Society for Sanity In Art, Inc., (Chicago: Society for Sanity in Art, 2/1/1941).

[18]“Artist Wills Paintings To School Here,” Pasadena Post, 2/25/1941, p.5. Five paintings are currently on view in the school board office, the rest remain in storage.

[19]Wills of Anna Lee and John Franklin Stacey, Los Angeles, California County courthouse.

[20]The exhibit was at the San Gabriel Artists’ Guild. Op. cit., Ross, Pasadena Star News, 4/18/1942, p.3. No other record of one-person exhibitions beyond 1942 has been located, so we presume this was the last.

[21]“Stacey Scholarships,” Art Digest, Vol. 21, 3/15/1947, p.31.

[22]“The John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship Fund For Art Education,” printed form, (Oklahoma City: National Cowboy Hall of Fame, 1997). This Scholarship is managed by the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

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