- Wayne County
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Bess Whitridge was born in Richmond Indiana in 1868 to Mary and John Whitridge. She was something of an odd fixture in the Richmond art community—her best known artistic output consisting almost exclusively of 6″ × 6″ painted tiles.
Her interest in this chosen medium was inspired and nurtured by her friends Jeanne Westcott Wilke and Fredrick Wilke, who operated a china kiln manufacturing business in Richmond. The Wilkes even opened a Richmond art school dedicated to the craft of china painting.
She began her art studies at The Wilkie Art School in Richmond, taking painting classes under Otto Punsch. She continued her education by traveling to Vienna, where she studied figure painting under Hans Wagner. After traveling to Dresden, that famous city of Keramic Art, she studied under Herr Lamm concentrating on painting floral subjects.
After completing her European studies, Whitridge returned to Richmond to resume painting and teaching miniature and china painting out of her home.
Bess was a founding member of the Richmond Keramic League, who held their first exhibit in 1905, a member of the Indiana Keramic Association, a member (and later president) of the Richmond Palette Club, and a regular exhibitor with the Richmond Art Association.
In her earlier work, she painted on a wide variety of media, including watercolor portraits on ivory. Portrait and still life painting on porcelain vases, clay tankards and steins were also in her repertoire. Her later work is represented by wonderfully decorated tiles, most featuring a floral still life, as is tradition with porcelain painting, but she also produced figurative examples.
Whitridge was widely exhibited in her time and is in many permanent collections today. She contributed a piece to the Indiana Keramic Association’s exhibit at The Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World’s Fair) in 1904.
Bess Whitridge died in 1954.
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