Friday, May 3, 2013

Margaret Gove Camfferman-Early Modernist Painter

Margaret and Peter Camfferman
Photograph Courtesy of South Widbey Historical Society
Margaret Gove Camfferman was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1881. She first studied at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts where she met her husband, Peter Camfferman, she then attended the New York School of Applied Arts & Design and finally, both she and her husband studied with Robert Henri in New York, and with Andre Lhote in Paris.
In 1915, a year after their marriage, the Camffermans moved to Langley, a town on Widbey Island in Washington state. Their home was called Brachenwood where they established an art colony for visiting artists and instructors.  Like many women of her era, Margaret created a number of pieces, yet she focused most of the artistic attention on her husband’s career as a painter despite the face that she was nine years his senior and had considerably more talent and experience in their early years together. [1]

Margaret Gove Camfferman
First Street in Langely
ca. n.d.
Sno-Isle Libraries

The Camffermans were among the first modernist painters in the American northwest. Margaret's paintings during that period are vivid and showed the influence of Post-Impressionism. The couple were part of Seattle’s Group of Twelve and were highly regarded in the art community. Margaret was an early member of the Women Painters of Washington, as well as the Puget Sound Group, and the art faculty and students associated with the University of Washington.

Margaret Gove Camfferman
Relaxing on Island Summer Day
ca. 1930
Oil on Board
17 x 20 inches
 At Brachenwood, the Camffermans offered classes which were frequented by many of the painters of the Northwest. The colony flourished from the 1920s until 1957 but when Peter died, the studios began to fall into disrepair.

Margaret worked with the Public Works of Art Project during the Depression as an easel painter and had a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum in 1935. Besides local exhibition's, Margaret exhibited in San Francisco at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exhibition, the San Francisco Art Museum and the Palace of the Legion of Honor. She also exhibited with the Smithsonian Travelling exhibitions from the 1920s through 1956. [2]

Margaret Gove Camfferman
ca. 1930s
Oil on board

Margaret Gove Camfferman
Peter Painting
ca. 1935
Oil on Board

1. David Martin, Women Painters of Washington,, (accessed May 2, 2013).
2. Ibid.

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