Julia Thecla (1896 - 1973)
opaque watercolor with incising on gessoed cardboard
19 1/4 x 24 1/2 inches
Julia Thecla grew up in rural Delavan, Illinois, south of Peoria. She moved to Chicago at age 24 to become an artist. She took classes at the School of the Art Institute in 1921-22 and 1925-26. An active member in many of the art associations in Chicago, she was a colleague of artists Gertrude Abercrombie, Ivan Albright, Macena Barton, Karl Priebe, Flora Schofield, and Lester Schwartz.
Painter David Porter describes Julia Thecla, "I remember she wore her hair, which was a carroty shade of red, in long curls, like the little girl she thought she was. She wore tiny vests, quilted skirts with tight waistbands and flaring hems, and high-button shoes. She carried the most peculiar kind of little purses, complete with lipsticks and makeup." —"Julia," Maureen McKenna, in Julia Thecla, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, 1986, p.29)
She exhibited her paintings regionally and nationally in art fairs and galleries and worked in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as an easel painter. The Illinois State Museum organized a retrospective exhibit of her work in 1984.
Opaque watercolor has a chalky filler added to the pigments and water. By incising, or drawing with a sharply pointed instrument, the artist achieved the white outlines caused by the gesso being exposed.
See more of Thecla's paintings in the Museum's Cast of Characters online exhibit.
Collection of the Illinois State Museum
photograph by Gary Andrashko
ISM Accession #: 1943.16/912.11
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