Urgent Museum Notice

Grace Arnold Albee

A black-and-white photograph of a woman seated at a table by a window. Her face, in profile, is in shadow. She looks down at a wood engraving. One hand steadies her woodblock while the other carves. Engraving and printing tools are scattered on the table, along with a small print.

Photo courtesy of Barbara E. Albee

1890–1985

Born on a Rhode Island farm, the artist studied at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1910 to 1912. The next year, she married the mural painter Percy F. Albee, with whom she had five sons. The family moved to Paris in 1928.

During her five years in France, Albee developed a lifelong interest in depicting the urban and rural landscapes around her. Wood engraving had long been regarded as simply a technique for reproducing oil paintings, but it enjoyed a revival as a fine art during the early 20th century. Albee’s works were exhibited at several Paris Salons and received positive reviews; she had her first one-woman exhibition in France in 1932.

In 1933, the family moved back to the U.S. They lived in New York City and in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which provided the material for many of Albee’s subsequent prints. By the 1940s, her reputation was well established; she was elected to full membership in the National Academy of Design. Albee won numerous awards and honors, and she worked actively well into her 90s.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Grace Arnold Albee
  • Birth

    Scituate, Rhode Island, 1890
  • Death

    Bristol, Rhode Island, 1985
  • Phonetic Spelling

    gray-ss AHR-nohld AL-bee

Works by Grace Arnold Albee

Manhattan Backwash

The wood engraving Manhattan Backwash illustrates two of Grace Arnold Albee’s favorite themes: the effects of human habitation on the natural landscape and the passage of time.

A dilapidated Victorian house with blank windows and disintegrating fence appears abandoned. A long series of steps, barren trees, and fences create a barrier between the house and the viewer. The term “backwash” suggests that the condition of...

Tiny print of a foreboding, dilapidated Victorian house on a hill. Between two water-stained retaining walls, a long series of uneven steps leads up to the house, which is flanked by barren trees and broken picket fencing.