Jane Piper Baltzell


August 21, 2013 will mark the 97th anniversary of the birth of one of Philadelphia’s most prominent modernist painters: Jane Piper Baltzell. Born in Philadelphia in 1916, Baltzell studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Arthur B. Carles (a student of Henri Matisse), whose colorist painting style was greatly influential to Baltzell. She was also inspired by the stunning art collections of Dr. Albert Barnes, and wrote that after viewing his collection of paintings by Matisse at the Barnes Foundation she "was thrown into a whole new world of color and feeling."

Baltzell is known for her abstract and colorful still-life paintings that, as one critic wrote, "have the intricacy of a complex musical score." The fact that Baltzell’s favorite shade was white is easily evident in her paintings, in which white paint is used to create a sense of gleaming sunlight, or to contrast with the otherwise vibrant hues of her work. In addition to painting, Baltzell also taught at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as University of the Arts) from the mid-1950s until 1985.

Her work is in collections in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Academy Museum 

At her death in on August 8, 1991, Jane Piper Baltzell was buried at The Woodlands in Section K, Lot #509.

Read her obituary in The New York Times.

by Rive Cadwallader