Lillian B. Meeser (1864-1942)

Lillian B. Meeser (1864-1942)

Born in 1864 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, Lillian Burk Meeser attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Students League in New York, and the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts. She studied under prominent American Impressionists including Philip Leslie Hale, Hugh Breckenridge, Charles H. Woodbury, and Joseph DeCamp, developing a style influenced by both the Boston and Pennsylvania Schools.

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Lillian married her husband, Dr. Spencer Meeser, in 1886, and together they moved around the country, passing through New Jersey, New York City, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and eventually settled in Detroit, Michigan, for a time, when her husband became a pastor at the Woodward Avenue Baptist Church. She became active in the Detroit arts community and in 1903 founded the Detroit Society of Women Painters, which is now known as the Detroit Society of Women Painters and Sculptors and celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2023. Five years after establishing the Society, the Meesers left Detroit for Chester, Pennsylvania, but Lillian was named honorary president and given official recognition as Founder of the Society.

While based in Chester, the Meesers also had a home in South Wellfleet on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, where Lillian opened a studio and gallery. Being very close to Provincetown, she began exhibiting with the Provincetown Art Association in 1916 and was strongly influenced by the Provincetown School, as her early academic palette adapted to capture the sunny views of summer in New England.

Meeser passed away in 1942 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but was an integral member of many arts organizations, including the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the North Shore Arts Association, the Provincetown Art Association, and the Detroit Society of Women Painters. She exhibited annually at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1901-1903 and 1916-1936, winning the Mary Smith Prize for Best Work of a Philadelphia Woman Artist in 1924, and also showed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in 1916, 1921, and 1932.

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