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Springfield Art Association Sends Painting to Smithsonian

The Springfield Art Association (SAA) recently announced that a painting from its permanent collection is heading to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Woman with a Monkey by artist Ethel Mars, created in Paris between 1906 and 1909, will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the exhibit Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900-1939, which runs April 26, 2024, through February 23, 2025. The upcoming exhibition will showcase the contributions of women from all corners of the United States and their influence on Paris, as well as the impact of Paris on American women from the early 1900s to the late 1930s.

“I am thrilled that an important institution like the Smithsonian is bringing attention to artists such as Ethel Mars and other young women who chose to go to Europe in the early 20th century because they were not taken seriously as artists in the United States,” says Betsy Dollar, Executive Director of the Springfield Art Association.

Ethel Mars was born in Springfield, IL, in 1876. Around 1906, Mars and her partner Maud Hunt Squire relocated to Paris, where they were frequent attendees of Gertrude Stein’s famous salon and the subjects of Stein’s prose poem Miss Furr and Miss Skeene which became a pivotal piece of LGBTQ+ literature due its first use of the word “gay” in reference to homosexuality. Mars and Squire made frequent trips home to Springfield and Mars was instrumental in forming the Springfield Amateur Art Study Club, the precursor to the Springfield Art Association. Once back in Paris, they often sent artwork, such as Woman with a Monkey, back to Springfield for exhibition.

“Not only are we fortunate to have one of Ethel Mars’ paintings in our permanent collection, but we are honored to have it included in the National Portrait Gallery’s Brilliant Exiles exhibit,” says Sarah Adams, SAA’s Curator of Collections and Interpretation.


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