Around the turn of the last century, artists began to congregate in and around the town of New Hope in Bucks County, PA. This quaint little town along the Delaware River is situated less then 40 miles from Philadelphia and 70 miles from Manhattan. Artists found New Hope appealing because the picturesque surroundings provided endless subjects to paint. It was also in close proximity to the nation's art capitals of New York and Philadelphia.
The first style of art associated with the area was the school of Pennsylvania Impressionism when William Langson Lathrop settled in the area, quickly followed by Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Walter Schofield, George Sotter and later others, including Walter Emerson Baum.
This group was followed quickly by a new generation of painters deemed "Bucks County Modernists". They included Lloyd New, Charles Ramsey, Stanley Reckless, Ethel Wallace and Charles Garner.
In 1929, a committee spearheaded by William Lathrop formulated a deal to purchase the old Phillips Mill property for use as a venue to hold exhibitions and community functions. The mill, located across the road from Lathrop’s house several miles north of New Hope, was owned by Dr. George Marshall. A lifelong friend of Lathrop, Marshall was also the father-in-law of R.A.D. Miller, a talented painter with divided sensibilities. Subsequently, the Phillips Mill Community Association was born and is still operating today.
In 1930, modernist Lloyd Ney submitted a painting of the New Hope canal for entry to a juried exhibition at the Phillips Mill. One of the bridges depicted in this work was painted in a bright red. William Lathrop, elected to reject Ney's painting, citing the bright colors, which he thought too disturbing. When word of this reached fellow modernist, Charles Ramsey, he decided to take action. Miffed by this disregard for their modernist ideas and techniques, Ramsey formed the "New Group." They showed their work separately from the Impressionist and opened their exhibit the day before in the New Hope Town Hall.
There soon followed by another "Modernist" association called the Independents. This group consisted of most New Group members, as well as Robert A.D. (RAD) Miller, Peter Keenan (1896-1952), Charles Evans (1907-1992); Henry Baker (1900-1957); Richard Wedderspoon, Carl Lindborg (1903-1994), Frederick Harer (1879-1947), Faye Swengel Badura (1904-1991), Louis K. Stone (1902-1984) and Charles Ward (1900-1962), among others. Other important modernist painters to later settle in the area after the initial arrivals were Josef Zenk (1904-2000), Scandinavian-born Bror Julius Nordfeldt (1878-1955), Swiss-born Joseph Meierhans (1890-1980), Clarence Carter (1904-2000), Ben Badura, and precisionist, Richard Peter Hoffman (1911-1997) of Allentown. They would show their work across the bridge in a church in Lambertville, NJ. They both literally and figuratively bridged American Impressionism with their unique form of Modernism.
Artists came to visit or live in the New Hope Art Colony from a vast array of locales. Most lived and worked within a 50-mile radius of New Hope, whether in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Within this region, several surrounding sub-groups existed besides these earlier two major movements.
There was also the Chester Springs group: Mildred Bunting Miller (1892-1964), Grace M. Green (1904-1978) and Charles Morris Young (1869-1964), as well as the women of the Pennsylvania Academy such as Martha Walter (1875-1976), Dorothy Van Loan (1904-1999), Alice Kent Stoddard (1885-1975), Elizabeth Washington (1871-1953) and Anna Speakman (d. 1937).
Lastly, there was The Philadelphia Ten. This group of 30 women artists was formed in 1917 and functioned until 1945. The Ten included Fern Coppedge (1883-1951) and M. Elizabeth Price (1877-1965) from New Hope, among others. Since this was a purely feminist art group, it served an important function in providing these women with exposure that they might not have gotten elsewhere.
In addition to the painters and graphic artists, the New Hope area attracted artisans, designers and craftsmen, such George Nakashima and Phillip Lloyd Powell. Many of the painters, such as Bernard Badura, also made frames to showcase their art and even other painters work. Meierhans and Nordfeldt were painters who also created unique frames that are highly prized today.
Of course, there were hundreds of other important artists who worked in the area, including painters like Wesley Lea and George Gibbs, who are included in this online exhibition.