Ellen Wetherald Ahrens was affectionately called “Nenna” in our family. She died in 1939, a few years before I was born. By the time I was toddling her life and artwork had become legendary in our family annals. Her work was all over the house, and her relationship with her teacher, Thomas Eakins, was told and retold around the Christmas dinner table. She painted some very beautiful portraits, and was well known for her miniature painting of Evelyn Nesbit who is famous for her part in a love triangle that ended in murder. Here is a link to her portrait which is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This is Nenna’s sister, Josephine Wetherald Ahrens, my great-great grandmother. This painting was quite a fixture in our various houses all my life, and before we donated it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art it was in my mother’s living room, with a portrait of Nan, my great-grandmother, along with a painting of my own grandmother I did and a drawing I did of my mother. Four generations of ladies, two of whom were artists. This painting received a second prize medal of honor at the Carnegie Institute exhibition which I kept on my desk for years, until I finally decided it needed to be housed with the painting and so I sent it to the Museum a few years back. The Museum Curator sent me a newspaper article in which it says that the first prize went to Alfred Maurer of New York and the third prize went to Edmund Tarbell, a very famous Boston artist. The Wikipedia article about Maurer shows his painting that won the medal, and it also says that Thomas Eakins was one of the jurors which I didn’t know until I just wrote this. (7-17-13)
Two miniatures by Ellen Wetherald Ahrens of my mother which were accepted for the collection of the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill outside of Philadelphia. This means that Nancy Roberts gets to live for ever about a mile away from her old home, where I grew up!