University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer Collection

Graphics Collection Number: 107
Extent: One box, 12 items.
Content: Artwork, including lithographs and wood engravings.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1997 by Iris Snyder.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer (1873 - 1943) was a painter and printmaker, best known for her images of Tennessee notables, especially society women and their children. Hergesheimer was the great-great granddaughter of the Philadelphia artist Charles Willson Peale, who named one of his daughters Sophonisba after the Italian woman artist of the Renaissance, Sophonisba Anguissola (1523/35-1625).

Hergesheimer was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where her student works impressed her teachers. She studied for two years at the Philadelphia School of Design and then for four years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under William Meritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux. In her first year (1900) she won the prize for perspective, in her second year the prize for animal and figure drawing, and in her third year the prizes for landscape and anatomy. She was judged the best pupil of her senior class and won a three-year Cresson traveling scholarship (1904-1907). She visited Paris and Normandy, Madrid, Germany, Italy, and Holland. In Paris she worked at the Colorossi School and had four paintings chosen to hang at the Paris Salon.

Returning home in 1907, she was commissioned to paint a portrait of Bishop Holland M. McTyeire, the Methodist clergyman who had persuaded Cornelius Vanderbilt to endow what became Vanderbilt University. The commission brought her to Nashville, Tennessee, which became her home for the rest of her life. She exhibited her work extensively in the South and won numerous awards including gold medals at the Appalachian Exposition in 1910 and the Tennessee State Exposition in 1926. She also exhibited at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition in 1926. A lithograph titled "Still Life with Apples" was chosen as one of the "Fine Prints of the Year in 1938."

Her works are in the collections of Vanderbilt University; Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York; Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery in Reading, Pennsylvania; Tennessee State Museum; and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia.


Artist Files of the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.

Burton, Vincent, "Some Portraits by Ella S. Hergesheimer" in the International Studio, Volume XXXVII, March-June 1909, pp. xxxii-xxxiii.

Kelly, James C., "Landscape and Genre Painting in Tennessee, 1810-1985" in Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Volume XLIV, Number 2, p. 112.

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes four lithographs and one wood engraving done by Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer (1873-1943), a painter and printmaker active in Tennessee from 1907 to the 1940s. Three of the works are of flowers, one is a landscape and one is a portrait study. All are in black and white and of similar size, approximately 15 x 20 inches. The portrait study "Jinney May Resting" is the same image as an oil painting of the same name in the collection of the Reading Public Museum. None of the prints are dated, but based on the subject matter and similar works in other collections, were done between 1920 and 1940.

The source of the collection is unknown and includes multiple copies of each image.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

Series I Hergesheimer Prints

F1   "Jinny May Resting" 
     Lithograph on paper.  40 x 59 cm.
     Signed in pencil, E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
     edition of 50

     2 copies: one marked in pencil "Edition of 50 - 23rd print,"
     the other Edition 50 - 24th print." 
    Edges untrimmed resulting in some variation in size.

F2   "Southern Magnolias"
     Lithograph on paper.  41 x 58 cm.
     Signed in pencil, E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
     edition of 57

     2 copies: one marked in pencil "Edition 57 - 27th print," 
    the other "Edition 57 - 32nd  print."  
    Edges untrimmed resulting in some variation in size.

F3   "Regal Lilies"
     Lithograph on paper. 
     Signed in pencil, E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
     edition of 54

     2 copies: one marked in pencil "54/27," the other "54/28." 
     Edges untrimmed resulting in some variation in size.

F4   "Along the California Coast"
     Lithograph on paper.  42 x 31 cm.
     Signed in pencil, E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
     edition of 58

     2 copies:  one marked in pencil "6th print, Edition 58," 
    the other "5th print, Edition 58."  
    Edges untrimmed resulting in some variation in size.

F5   "Eucalyptus In Blossom"
     Woodblock print on paper.  40 x 56 cm.
     Signed in pencil, E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
     edition of 75

     4 copies: two marked "1st block Edition 75 - 3rd print," 
    and "1st block Edition 75 - 4th print,"  two marked "2nd block Edition 74 - 4th print,"
     and "2nd block Edition 75 - 5th print."  
    Each individually numbered; 
    edges untrimmed resulting in some variation in size.

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