Enella Benedict

Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Lake Forest, IL
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Richmond, VA
335 S Halsted St, Chicago
Active In: 
Painting - Oil
Painting - Watercolor
Urban Scene
Classical Realism-19th Century
World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
Annual Exhibit, Palette Club, 1895
New York Water Color Club, 1897
Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, AIC, 1889, 1911, 12
Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1900-1926 (8 times)
Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings & Sculpture by American Artists, AIC, 1900
Chicago Society of Artists
Palette Club, Chicago
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Smithsonian Collection, Washington, DC
Rockford Art Museum
Hull House, Chicago
SAIC, 1903-04, 1910-11
Art Students' League, NYC
Academy Julian, Paris
Other Occupations: 
Teacher, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Director of art programs at Hull House for nearly 50 years
Biography from Kimberly Ewald

Enella Benedict was born on December 21, 1858. As a young adult, she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in New York.1 Benedict, like many prestigious women of her time, traveled to Paris to receive additional training in art at the prestigious Academie Julian. Although she received excellent study overall from the famous French academy of art, Benedict was isolated as a female student, was required to paid higher fees, and received less rigorous instruction.2 In 1892, Enella Benedict became the founder and director of the Art School within the Hull-House. Benedict supported the program for over forty years and was one of the longest live-in residents of the Hull-House settlement, second longest to Jane Addams herself. Benedict's contributions to the settlement included teaching drawing, painting, clay modeling, and the responsibility to bring in new teachers and artists-in-residence.3 Enella Benedict was also a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago during this same time period.

Benedict's paintings and drawings were influenced by realism. She adopted this style into her urban setting, painting many of the individuals around her--such as the residents of the Hull-House and the peasant neighbors. She would also paint seascapes and rural landscapes and has been described as a great draughtswoman.4 It has been said, "she portrayed both public and private space, taken from everyday life."5 Of modern art, Benedict has commented 'I don't understand it but I see no reason to poke fun at it."6 This describes why her paintings come from a very traditional standpoint. In 1893, Benedict's work was accepted in the World's Columbian Exposition in the designated Woman's Building,7 a great honor for any women artist talented enough to be accepted.

As a gift for Benedict's life long devotion to the Hull-house, in 1938 the "Hull-House opened a new permanent art gallery on its main floor with a retrospective exhibition of Benedict's paintings. Named in her honor, the Benedict Gallery was lost with the demolition of the Hull-House complex in the mid-1960's."8 Enella Benedict died April 6, 1942.

1 Ganz, Cheryl R., Enella Benedict. Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. ed. Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001. (75)
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid (76).
4 Ibid (77).
5 Ibid (77).
6 Ed. Ganz, Cheryl; Strobel, Margaret. Pots of Promise: Mexicans and Pottery at Hull-House, 1920-1940. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004. (25).
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid (Ganz).