Rachael Robinson Elmer

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Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878-1919)
Ferrisburgh, Vermont and New York, New York


As an elementary school student, Rachael took painting classes in Burlington. She first traveled to New York City for study when she was 12. After graduating from Goddard Seminary in Barre in 1897, she lived in Burlington, where she worked and taught in a studio. She returned to New York when she was 20 and joined the Art Students League. One of the formative influences on her art was Childe Hassam, specifically for his scenes of city life.

Although heavily influenced by her father, Rowland Evans Robinson, she surpassed him in both talent and training. She married and settled in New York, where she had a successful career as an illustrator of children’s books and periodicals, including several works by author Caroline Hofman. She also made illustrations for William Elliot Griffis’ Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks (1918). During World War I, she created posters and was active with the “Bird and Tree Club”, raising funds for replanting woodlands in wartorn France. Her best-known work, however, consisted of two sets of fine art postcards of New York scenes. The first set of twelve cards, published in 1914, showcased her talent as an Impressionist painter. She produced the second set of linoleum block prints entirely on her own in 1916. Their style, later known as Art Deco, put them well ahead of their time, and they caused quite a stir. These eighteen cards changed the world of American postcards. It is hard not to wonder what else Rachael might have changed, but, sadly, we’ll never know. She contracted the Spanish influenza and died in 1919 at the age of 40. Rokeby celebrated Rachael’s first postcard series with the 2014 exhibit, “Rachael’s New York Postcards at 100”.

(text adapted from material provided by Rokeby Museum and Wikipedia)


To learn more about Rachael Robinson Elmer, visit the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, as well as Wikipedia and VT Digger. For Women’s History Month 2014, Museum Director Emerita, Jane Williamson, produced a piece for Vermont Public Radio about Rachael, find out more HERE.


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Illustrations from The Wise Gray Cat by Caroline Hofman
(signed Rachael Robinson Elder; 1918, republished by Kessinger Publishing, Whitefish, Montana, 2010)