Adelaide Deming


Adelaide Deming with a fan
in an undated photograph.
Adelaide Deming (1864-1956) was an artist and educator whose interest in her town's past provided subjects for many of her paintings. She was a descendant of a prominent Litchfield family of the post-Revolutionary War period, and a nationally known landscape painter.

Much of Deming's training and career was in New York City, although she kept also kept a home in Litchfield. She studied at the Art Students League, and with William Merritt Chase, William Lathrop, Henry B. Snow and Arthur Dow. With these artists, Deming developed her early, impressionistic style. She eventually became an instructor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, teaching there for eight years.

Deming was widely traveled, painting and studying in Europe, the Virgin Islands, Greece, and Egypt. She was best known, however, for her New England landscapes. The artist frequently depicted Litchfield scenes, both as they appeared during her own time, and how they might have once looked. Her career spanned a period of renewed enthusiasm for the nation's colonial and early republic past. This movement was particularly strong in Litchfield, and Deming was proud of her ancestors' place in the community's history.

Although Litchfield never sustained an art colony, Deming formed ties with other local artists. Emily Vanderpoel and Alexander Theobald Van Laer were among her friends, and the three artists showed their work together. Deming held memberships in several Connecticut arts groups, including the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the Paint and Clay Club of New Haven, and the Kent Art Association. In addition to her New York affiliations, her national memberships included the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors and the American Watercolor Society.


Adelaide Deming wears
an artist's smock in this
undated photograph.
In her lifetime, Deming's paintings were shown in well-regarded venues including the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum. She was also invited to exhibit at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. Her papers show she was in contact with leading public figures. Among her correspondence in the historical society's collections is a letter from Booker T. Washington, requesting the donation of a painting for his Tuskegee Institute. (A subsequent letter indicates that she sent a drawing.) Victor Hugo also had a reply sent to her letter.

In addition to her art, Deming was involved in the issues of the day and in local affairs. She was president of the Litchfield Women's Suffrage League. (Her "Votes For Women" pin is in the historical society's collections.) She was also one of the first presidents of the Women's Forum, a group still in existence. As a member of the town's board of education, she was credited with helping to bring a hot lunch program to the schools. She also pushed to get a new school built in the 1920s.

Her paintings are in private collections and museums. The Litchfield Historical Society received a number of Deming's paintings at the bequest of her sister, Charlotte Deming. Subsequent donations and purchases have increased the society's holdings of these works.

Objects

Clicking on the image will bring you to a page from Highlights of the Collections, which has a larger view and more information about the object.

Sources

"Prominent New England Landscape Painter Dies Here," Litchfield Enquirer, 30 (?) Feb. 1956.

"Litchfield Artist Dies at Age 91," Hartford Courant, 26 Feb. 1956, B12.

Who's Who in the East. Boston: Larkin, Roosevelt & Larkin, 1943.

More information

Austin, Robert Michael. Artists of the Litchfield Hills. Waterbury, Conn.: Mattatuck Historical Society, 2003.

This is a catalog for the show "Picture Perfect", held at museums throughout Northwest Connecticut.

From the collections

Manuscripts:
Adelaide Deming Collection
Mostly letters and other documents. This also contains some materials from other family members.

While the original documents are housed in the Ingraham Library, the Archives of American Art also has copies of eight letters on microfilm. It is available through interlibrary loan. View catalog entry.