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Ruth Pratt Bobbs

female 1884-1973
20th Century
Life city:
Indianapolis, IN
Work city:
Indianapolis, IN
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  • Marion County

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Ruth Pratt was born in 1884 to a wealthy Indianapolis family and began taking formal art classes by the time she was eight years old. In 1900, Ruth was sent to Europe after the death of both of her parents. While there, she studied art at the Academie Julian.
She moved New York in 1903 and enrolled in the Arts Student League there.

Ruth returned to Indianapolis in 1907 to continue studying art at the John Herron Art Institute. By this time, she had studied with numerous well-know artists, including Frank Vincent DuMond, William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Robert Henri, and Charles Hawthorne. Ruth married William C. Bobbs, president of the Bobbs-Merrill publishing company, in 1912. Despite her rigorous artistic training, Ruth had to work particularly hard to overcome the idea that she was simply a wealthy woman who dabbled in art.

She gained a reputation as an accomplished portraitist both locally and nationally, capable of deftly capturing her subjects’ personalities. A portrait she did of the poet Stephen Vincent Benet was favorably mentioned in the New York Times Book Review in August 1928, and the New York Sun and New York Evening Post praised her paintings during a show in 1915. Probably her most notable work was the commission she received to paint a portrait of Gen. Robert H. Tyndall for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.

Source: Skirting the Issue, by Newton and Weiss

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