Biographical / Historical
Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956) was a printmaker, etcher, painter, and rug designer who worked primarily in Provincetown, Massachusetts and Morgantwon, West Virginia.
Nettie Blanche Lazzell was born in Maidsville, West Virginia, in 1878, the daughter of Mary Prudence Pope and Cornelius Carhart Lazzell. At some point during her childhood, Lazzell became partially deaf. When Lazzell was fifteen, she enrolled in the West Virginia Conference Seminary, now West Virginia Wesleyan College and graduated in 1898.
In 1899, Lazzell continued her studies at the South Carolina Co-educational Institute and graduated that same year. She later matriculated into the West Virginia University (1901-1905) where she took drawing and art history classes with William J. Leonard and earned a degree in fine arts. After graduation, Lazzell periodically studied at the university until 1909. Lazzell moved to New York City in 1907 and enrolled in the Art Students League of New York in 1908 where she studied under William Merritt Chase.
Lazzell travelled to Europe during the summer of 1912. After visiting several cities, Lazzell went to Paris and stayed beyond the tour to attend classes at the Académie Julian and the Académie Moderne where she studied with painter Charles Guérin. Lazzell returned to the United States in the fall of 1913 and stayed in West Virginia with her sister Bessie. She held a solo exhibition of her sketches and paintings in 1914. Lazzell moved to the thriving art colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1915. There, she studied with Charles Webster Hawthorne, who founded the Cape Cod School of Art, and Oliver Chaffee, who taught her the technique for white-line woodcuts. Lazzell quickly adopted and excelled at making white-line woodblock prints, joined the Provincetown Printers, an art collective, and regularly exhibited with them.
n 1918, Lazzell converted an "old fish house" overlooking the Provincetown harbor into her studio and summer home. She planted a lush garden that became a tourist attraction where she often hosted teas and taught classes on painting and woodblock printing. The studio became her primary summer residence, though she often returned to Morgantown, West Virginia. Lazzell also visited other artist colonies during this time, including one in Woodstock, New York where she studied with Andrew Dasburg.
In 1919 Lazzell was featured in an exhibition at Touchstone Gallery in New York City. Later that year, the Provincetown Printers were featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition "Wood Block Prints in Color by American Artists". That show included Lazzell's depiction of the Monongahela River in Morgantown.
From 1923 to 1924, Lazzell travelled again to Europe and studied with Fernand Legér, André Lhote, and Albert Gleizes in Paris. Lazzell studied Cubism and took a class with Gleizes and her work became more abstract. When she returned to Provincetown, she had her studio rebuilt so it was more comfortable during the winter. She continued to teach art at her studio and participate in exhibitions.
In addition to her woodblock prints, Lazzell also worked with batik, rug design, and hand-painted china. She was a member of numerous arts organizations such as the Société Anonyme, New York Society of Women Artists, Provincetown Art Association, the Sail Loft Club (a Provincetown women's art club), and the Society of Independent Artists. In 1934, Lazzell received a Federal Art Project grant through the Works Progress Administration and created a mural titled Justice for the Morgantown courthouse.
Lazzell died in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1956.