Helen Kiner McCarthy

Artist Biography

Landscape, still-life and portrait painter; founding member of the Philadelphia Ten

By Eve Perry

Helen K. McCarthy, known for her painted landscapes, was an original member of the women’s artist group the Philadelphia Ten.

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Notes
VII. Suggested Resources


I. Biography

Helen K. McCarthy was born in Poland, Ohio in 1884. She studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, now the Moore College of Art and Design, with Impressionist Henry B. Snell and landscape painter Elliot Dangerfield. McCarthy is best known as an original member of the Philadelphia Ten (also known as the Ten Philadelphia Painters), a women’s artist group founded by artists trained at the Philadelphia School of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In an era when many women artists sought to de-gender their work in the hope of competing in a male-dominated field, the members of the Philadelphia Ten banded together, exhibiting as a group to gain prominence. McCarthy participated in the group’s annual exhibitions which had a total run of nearly three decades from 1917 to 1945. McCarthy was also a member of Philadelphia’s Plastic Club, founded in 1897, which provided a social and professional network for women artists as well as exhibition opportunities at the club’s gallery on South Camac Street. In 1998, McCarthy’s work was included in the Moore College of Art and Design’s retrospective of the Philadelphia Ten which was accompanied by an exhibition catalogue devoted to the group.

II. Chronology

1888 Born September 6 in Poland Ohio
1904 Began studies at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women
1914 Awarded Gold medal from the Plastic Club, Philadelphia
1917 First exhibition of the Philadelphia Ten
1918 Awarded Mary Smith Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of Art
1919 Awarded prize from National Association of Women Artists
1926 Awarded prize from National Association of Women Artists
1927 The artist died
1930 First Helen K. McCArthy Memorial Prize awarded by National Academy of Design
for best landscape by a woman artist, forty years old or younger
1998 “The Philadelphia Ten: A Women’s Artist Group 1917–1945” retrospective held at
Moore College of Art and Design

III. Collections

IV. Exhibitions

1910-11 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
1911 Art Institute of Chicago
1912 The Plastic Club, Philadelphia
1914 The Plastic Club, Philadelphia
1916-20 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
1917 Art Club of Philadelphia
1918 Art Institute of Chicago
1919 National Association of Women Artists
1920 City Art Museum, St. Louis
1922 Art Institute of Chicago
1925-27 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
1926 National Association of Women Artists
1929 Milch Gallery, New York (Helen K. McCarthy Memorial Exhibition)
1998 Moore College of Art and Design retrospective of the Philadelphia Ten

V. Memberships

The Plastic Club
International Society of Arts and Letters
Association of Women Painters and Sculptors
National Association of Women Artists
New York Society of Painters

VI. Notes

VI. Suggested Resources

City Art Museum of St. Louis. Special Exhibition Catalogue: Series 1916. (St. Louis: City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1916).
Falk, Peter Hastings ed. Who Was Who in American Art 1664-1975. Vol. 3 (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999).
Talbott, Page and Patricia Tanis Sydney. The Philadelphia Ten, A Women's Artist Group 1917-1945. (Philadelphia: Galleries at Moore, 1998).

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