Who would guess that an artist born and bred on a Vermont farm created the most iconic postcards of New York City? But that’s what Rachael Robinson Elmer did. Although her ground-breaking “Art-Lovers New York” postcards are 100 years old they still retain their beauty and originality. An exhibit presenting the cards and their impact opens at Rokeby Museum on Sunday, June 15, with a presentation on Rachael’s life and achievements at 3pm.
Elmer changed the world of American postcards 100 years ago. She pioneered the fine art city view card when her stunning Impressionist paintings of popular scenes in her beloved New York were produced as postcards. Published by P. F. Volland in 1914, the “Art-Lover’s New York” cards were immediately copied by dozens of artists in New York and elsewhere.
This exhibit presents all 12 cards, the three London postcards that inspired Elmer, her working sketches, newspaper coverage, and biographical background. Full sets of these scarce and now highly collectible cards are rarely seen.
The exhibit also includes a surprise – a previously unknown painting for an unpublished thirteenth card. Paul Volland rejected one of the first eight paintings Rachael proposed – a sunny, springtime view of New York City Hall with the (then) brand new Municipal Building towering up behind it. The painting remains in Rokeby’s collection and will be exhibited for the first time.
Elmer was born at Rokeby to Rowland Evans and Anna Stevens Robinson, both artists, in 1878. Her art education began before she started school and continued with a young people’s summer art program in New York City and later, at the Art Students League. She moved to New York as a young woman and commenced a successful career as a graphic artist. Rachael married businessman Robert Elmer in 1911 and died prematurely in February 1919 in the Spanish flu epidemic.
Today Rokeby Museum is a National Historic Landmark designated for its exceptional Underground Railroad history. The Museum and “Rachael’s New York Postcards” will be open daily from 10am to 5pm until Sunday, Oct. 26. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $8 for students.
For more information visit www.rokeby.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (802) 877-3406.