Helen Searle
American, 1830-1884

Little known today, Helen Searle was regarded as one of the best trained still-life painters of the 19th-century. Her still life subjects included fruit, flowers, and game arranged in clear light, suggestive of an outdoor setting, usually in a formal manner.

She was born in Burlington, Vermont but moved with her family to Rochester, New York when she was ten years old. 

In 1863, she began to receive attention for still lifes, she exhibited at the Babies' Hospital Relief Bazaar in Rochester, and the following year, she showed her work at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Because of her growing reputation, she was appointed the teacher of painting and drawing at Mrs. Bryan's Female Seminary at Batavia, New York, but she recognized her need for further training.

In 1866, she began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design in New York. From 1867 to 1872, she was a private student in Dusseldorf, Germany of Johann Wilhelm Preyer, the most celebrated still-life painter in that community and one who based his principles on 17th and 18th-century Dutch still life painting. Her "Preyer-like still life paintings were reproduced as chromolithographs by Ehrgott and Forbinger, Printers & Publishers in Cincinnati."

In 1872, Searle returned to the United States and settled a studio in Washington DC. Five years later she married artist James William Pattison, and they lived for some time outside of Paris at the artists' community in Ecouen, and their home was a gathering place for artists and writers.

In 1879, Searle exhibited a fruit still life at the Paris Salon under her maiden name. The couple returned to the Untied States and settled in Jacksonville, Illinois where James pattison became the Director of the School of Fine Arts. She died there in 1884, having continued to exhibit at the National Academy of Design through 1883.

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