CORNELIA W. CONANT (Hamilton, NY. Feb. 12, 1834 – NYC April 4, 1919)

Thomas Jefferson Conant (1802-1891) was doubtless the foremost Hebrew scholar of his time in America. In 1830, he married Hannah O’Brien Chaplin (1809-1865), an American biblical scholar. She became an able assistant of her husband in his Hebrew studies.
They had ten children: Roger, Cornelia (or Caroline), Blandina, Carrie (or Chara), Mary, Susan, Marcia, Thomas, Stillman and John.
Stillman S. Conant (1831-1885?) became the head of Harper’s weekly magazine from 1869 until his mysterious disappearance in 1885.

In New York, Cornelia W. Conant received painting instruction successively from Daniel Huntington (1816-1906), Edwin White (1817-1877), Joannes A. Oerthel (1823-1909) and more.
She spent four years in Düsseldorf at the Academic Formulas of Carl W. Hübner (1814-1879). From there, she sent an important picture entitled “The sacred lesson” exhibited at the Goupil Gallery in NY. It has been bought by Mr. Fletcher Harper Jr. and shown at the Exhibition of the Art Association.
Few young artists ever entered France for purpose of study with better preparation.

Harper’s Weekly supplement of July 16, 1881 said: “… Miss Conant has lived several years at Ecouen, where Edouard Frere is known to be a leading light. His inspiration has quickened her genius… Probably no other American artist ever went to France to study whose education had been so generous and unsectarian… Edouard Frere, Luigi Chialiva, Auguste Schenck and other well-known painters reside in Ecouen, ten miles north of Paris, population 1296. The expense of living is extremely moderate and the incentive for art-study notably vigorous”.

Cornelia W. Conant was living, with her lady artist friend Mary L. Stone, 7 rue de la Beauvette (Beauvette street). Their beloved and dedicated maid was a local lady named Fanny.
Cornelia W. Conant went back to the same place, on August 1st 1896, with her two sisters Blandina and Carrie.

While painting in Ecouen, she participated in several “Salon de Paris”, exhibiting:
– in 1878, “La veille d’une fête nationale en Amérique” (The National day eve in America)
– in 1879, “Vie de famille” (Family life)
– in 1880, “La fin de l’histoire” (The end of the story)
– in 1882, “Dans le jardin” (In the garden)

She wrote two articles concerning her stay in Ecouen. They are illustrated by etchings showing the village.

In 1888, Cornelia W. Conant (a watercolor) and Mary L. Stone exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts.

In 1894, she was on the membership Department of the paintings committee of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. She showed works at the Brooklyn Art Association and the National Academy of Design.

Her painting The End of the Story was included in the 1905 book “Women painters of the world”.

In her 86th year, Cornelia W. Conant had a funeral service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on April 4th, 1919.


For further information, please read the book “L’Ecole d’Ecouen, une colonie de peintres au XIXe siècle” (bilingual French-English).