Charlotte Russell Partridge (1882 - 1975)

Birth date: 1882 Death date: 1975  
Birth location: Minneapolis, Minnesota Death location: Mequon, Wisconsin  
Media: Decorative Art , Painting Web site:
Comprehensive (file rating) - Major Wisconsin artist file that includes comprehensive documentation on artist's life that can be researched on site at MWA.


Charlotte Russell Partridge
Born 1881 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died 1975 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Miss Partridge attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students’ League in Woodstock, New York. After graduation from Northern Illinois Teachers College and the Emma M. Church School of Art in Chicago, she became an instructor at the Church School and, during the summer, at the Commonwealth Art Colony, Boothbay, Maine.

In 1914, she came to Wisconsin to teach in the art department of Milwaukee Downer College and became the department head in 1916. Feeling the constraints of her liberal arts setting, she was determined to establish a new school entirely devoted to the arts. With the support of the trustees of the Frederick Layton estate, ten donors and with the use of used equipment, she organized the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee in 1920. A dynamic administrator and innovative educator, she pioneered new concepts in art education and saw the enrollment grow from 87 students to over 1000. She continued as director of the school and curator of the Layton Gallery until her retirement in 1954.

An admirer of “modern art”, she encouraged her students to progress beyond the mastery of technique to individual self-expression. Her own interests were in textile designing and painting. People interested her too, and during the depression, she also became the Wisconsin chairman of the Public Works of Art Project and the Wisconsin Federal Art Project. She was a member and the first president of Wisconsin Designer Craftsmen, Delta Kappa Gamma, The College Arts Association, Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors and numerous other professional societies. She received the governor’s award for “individual support of the arts” and an honorary PhD in art from Lawrence University.

Selected Group Exhibitions

1916 First Annual Exhibition, Wisconsin Society of Applied Arts, Milwaukee Art Institute
1948  Masterpieces of Art in Wisconsin-Centennial Exhibition, State Fair Park, Milwaukee 
1974 Milwaukee Paintings of the 1920’s and 30’s  Charles Art Library, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1979  Wisconsin Artists 1850-1950, Twelmeyer-Krumbholz Gallery, Milwaukee 
no date  A Century Plus of Wisconsin Watercolors, Wustum Museum, Racine (now known as the Racine Art Museum), State Historical Society, Madison, Nicolet College, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh


Obituary, Milwaukee Journal, Feb. 1975

Layton School Founder…Milwaukee Sentinel

Smithsonian Archives

Charlotte Russell Partridge and the Layton School of Art, WMA archives

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