Friday, 3 December 2010

Margaret Evelyn Whittemore

Margaret Whittemore
(1897 - 1983)

American (Kansas) printmaker

Margaret Whittemore was born into a family of Washburn College teachers on September 7, 1897, in Topeka, Kansas, growing up there. Her father, Luther D. Whittemore was a professor of Latin and education, and her mother Frances Davis Whittemore was director of the art department.

I show you the 6 solo bird prints I've found wich I think are quite nice. You can also see that working together with Avis Chitwood brings both artist to a higher level (in bird picture printing). Compare Margarets lovingly depicted birds also to the bird prints by British Winifred Austen (1876-1964, of whom I can only afford a postcard copy) and German Hugo Amberg (1872- ?)

The artist-to-be studied, naturally enough, at Washburn (today a University) from 1915-1919, receiving her degree. From 1920-1923, she studied graphic arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. In 1927, she taught art at Bethany College, in Lindsborg, Kansas. From 1928-1935, she edited the national publication of the honorary art fraternity Delta Phi Delta, "The Palette." Whittemore moved from Topeka to Kissimmee, Florida, in 1952, spending a number of years in both Short Hills, New Jersey, and Sarasota, Florida, before choosing Sarasota as her home. She would die there on November 24, 1983.

Her primary medium in the expression of Kansas subjects was the graphic arts, wood block prints in particular. Around 1930, magazines and newspapers began publishing her prints of historic landmarks, as well as her earlier birds and trees. She illustrated books by other writers, while also writing and illustrating her own. Sketchbook of Kansas Landmarks, published in 1936, was her first book. It featured drawings and descriptions of historically significant landmarks like the capitol, missions, old trails, homes, bridges and trees. I picked two of the many she made that I think show her skills best.

Whittemore, during summer study with Birger Sandzen at the Broadmoor Academy, Colorado Springs, exhibited also with the Prairie Print Makers Exhibition, which traveled through Kansas. She won "Best Print by a Kansas Artist" in the 1936 American Block Print exhibition, in Wichita, Kansas.

I think this is the first time 6 of Margarets bird prints are shown together. If you examples of others please think about sending me a copy allowing me to do a follow up.

Text Source: Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West" (Bio from


  1. I wouldn't say she was an ornithologist, would you? I think I prefer these to the other lady. They are all so simlar in scale, I wonder if they part of a set.


  2. No she is just very enthousiastic I think. But I envy her skills and there is defenitly detail, observation and knowledge of birdbehaviour involved. But I also agree she's not a Seaby or Austen. I don't think they are a set. 3 are with a black key border, 3 without, so maybe 2 sets, and maybe there are more. I like the top right best, 4 blocks.

  3. It's the backgrounds that are the problem. Too plain. One printmaker at least that hadn't been looking at Koson.

  4. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University has a Whittemore Bluebird print.