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Blanche Lazzell


Born in Maidsville, Monongalia County, Blanche Lazzell (October 10, 1878-June 1, 1956) was one of the state’s most notable artists and is recognized as one of America’s leading abstract painters and print makers. She received a diploma from West Virginia Conference Seminary in 1898 and an art degree in 1905 from West Virginia University. She traveled to New York City in the fall of 1907, where she studied at the Art Students League with Kenyon Cox and William Merritt Chase.

Unusually independent for a woman of her time, Lazzell traveled twice to Paris, where she absorbed the principles of Cubism and studied with such early modernists as Charles Guerin, Fernand Léger, and Albert Gleizes. She is most known as one of the founding members of the Provincetown Printers, a Provincetown, Massachusetts, group that favored the single block color print. From 1916 on, Lazzell worked in this method of printing and in other media including watercolor and oil.

During the Depression, she was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration to create several color wood-block prints of scenes in and around Morgantown and a mural for the courthouse titled ‘‘Justice over Monongalia County.’’ By 1937, Lazzell returned to Provincetown to study with Hans Hofmann. She continued to work prolifically in her studio on the wharf in Provincetown until her death. She was buried in Bethel Cemetery in Maidsville.

Throughout her lifetime, Blanche Lazzell exhibited in many prestigious exhibitions including the Salon d’Automne in Paris and the International Print Makers Exhibit in Los Angeles. Her work is represented today in major museums and galleries, including the Smithsonian Institution, and in the permanent collections of West Virginia Wesleyan College and WVU.

Written by Mary Louise Soldo Schultz