Elizabeth O'Neill Verner
Portrait by Marie Danforth Page, 1937
Elizabeth Quale O'Neill (Verner), 1883 - 1979
She was born in Charleston, South Carolina, daughter of a prosperous rice factor and lived a life of privilege until the rice growing industry moved to Louisiana and Texas in the mid 1890's. In remembering her father, she wrote, "He selected the highest to accent in life. Because he enjoyed gracious living, easy hospitality, fine clothes, good food, the best in literature and most of all, peace, he had these things, and we, his children, had them too." In 1900 her parents, recognizing her talent, sent her to Philadelphia to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art under Thomas Anchutes the disciple of Thomas Eakins, founder of what was known as The American School of Painting from which Verner learned her aesthetic discipline.
She returned to Charleston in 1903 at the time of her father's death, to discover her family in crisis as her father had done all his business on a handshake and kept no notes. No one could continue his business. The family began to live by selling their investments which maintained her mother and younger siblings until the 1920's when her mother died. She married E. Pettigrew Verner, producing two children, Elizabeth Pettigrew (1908) and David Battle (1911), while continuing her art mostly in the form of oil paintings. In the mid 1920's her husband died, and she threw herself into becoming a professional artist. In a very short time she succeeded in attracting wide spread attention. It was in the medium of etching that she excelled and between 1925 and 1933 she produced a phenomenal body of work.
She did continue to produce drypoints for some years, but by 1937 she had ceased her intalio work and picked up pastels which she added to a continuing love of drawing. To this she added letters to her accomplishments publishing four books and lecturing widely. She drew her last pastel,"Day Clean at Middleton Place" in 1963, 60 years after leaving the Pennsylvania Academy.
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