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Patty Willis


Artist Patty Willis (September 20, 1879-November 21, 1953) was born in Jefferson County. A painter, printmaker, designer, sculptor, and art historian, Willis studied at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art, at the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the Pratt Institute. Following World War I, she traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, during which period she studied with Fernand Léger at the Académie Moderne in Paris. Returning to the U.S. in the early 1920s, Willis exhibited her work at the Corcoran Gallery in 1923, and later at the Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and elsewhere. During the late 1920s and 1930s, she was part of the art colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts. She exhibited with the Society of International Artists in New York in 1928, 1937, and 1938, and also exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Willis resided primarily in Charles Town. She was a member of the Allied Artists of West Virginia, and exhibited with the group occasionally during the 1930s and 1940s. She frequently lectured on the history of religious art and was a pioneer in the study of West Virginia art history. Her valuable directory of Jefferson County portraits and portrait painters was published in the Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society in December 1940. She died in Jefferson County.

Written by John A. Cuthbert