Isabel Bishop, painter and printmaker, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 3 March 1902 and raised in Detroit. Her parents were descendents of wealthy and well educated mercantile families. Her father was a Greek and Latin scholar and her mother was a writer and an activist for women’s suffrage.

When she was twelve years of age, Bishop was enrolled in Saturday morning life drawing classes at the John Wicker Art School in Detroit. After graduating from high school, she moved to New York to study illustration at the School of Applied Design for Women. In 1920 she enrolled in the Art Students' League where she studied with Kenneth Hayes Miller and Guy Pene du Bois. In the 1940s she studied at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 at the New School of Social Research. She taught at the Art Students’ League in New York from 1936 to 1937 and was the only female full time instructor. She also taught at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Bishop made her first etching in 1925 and in 1926 opened her studio that overlooked Union Square at Broadway and Fourteenth Street. She is known for depicting urban life and was a leading member of the Fourteenth Street School of artists. In 1932, she joined the Midtown Gallery in Manhattan, with which she remained closely affiliated for the rest of her life.

She was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1940 and she was elevated to full Academician in 1941. She was also elected a Member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1944, and a Benjamin Franklin Fellow at the Royal Society of Arts in London. Bishop received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in 1943, the Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award presented to her by President Jimmy Carter, and a Gold Medal for Painting by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was the recipient of honorary doctorates from Bates College, Mount Holyoke College, and Syracuse University.

Isabel Bishop’s work is represented in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Butler Art Institute, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, the Library of Congress, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the McNay Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the New York Public Library, the Phillips Collections, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum, theWadswoth Atheneum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Isabel Bishop died in Riverdale, New York on 19 February 1988.

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