Pew, Gertrude - portrait of 20C lady

This miniature is signed "Gertrude L Pew".

Gertrude L Pew (Mar 1876-28 Jun 1949) was born in Niles, Trumbull, Ohio and she worked and died in NYC. She was the daughter of Horace Pew (1828-1890) and Mary Elizabeth Tucker (1843-c1900).

In the 1880 census, Horace was a farmer aged 52 and Mary was then 37. They had three children at that time and later another one named Grace, but she died young.

Mary is believed to have been married before, but her husband was killed in the Civil War when she was only 17. Mary was a professional portrait painter of recognized talent in Youngstown, Ohio

Mary seems to have been the second wife of Horace, as living in the same general area in the 1850 census there is a farmer named Horace Pew aged 24, who was married to Nancy Pew aged 25.

Gertrude Pew trained at the Cleveland School of Art, the New York Academy of Design and in Paris.

For the 1900 census, Gertrude Pew was living in Manhattan, NY with her brother Marlen Pew (Jun 1878-15 Oct 1936) who was an editor and her sister Mildred M Pew (Feb 1880->1949) who was a student. Gertrude described herself as an artist.

The three siblings must have been close, as in August 1902 the three of them holidayed together at Delaware Gap, see Delaware Water Gap; Visitors Still So Numerous That Hotels Are ...

In 1910 they still lived together, although in the census they were recorded as lodging in Boston. However, they may have been there on holiday. Marlen was a newspaper editor and Gertrude described herself as having an artist's studio. Mildred gave no occupation.

It is understood that Marlen sent his two sisters to Europe around 1910 where Gertrude studied in Paris and graduated from the “Paris School of Painting”. It seem it was after the 1910 census that Gertrude and Mildred went to Europe, but they were not away long as they returned on SS Finland on 20 Sep 1910.

In the New York Times of 31 Mar 1918 there is a favorable review of Gertrude's miniature of a lady named Marine Poole, see Figure Subjects and Miniatures at Academy; Art at Home and Abroad ...

In 1920 Gertrude, still an artist, and Mildred, now a neighbourhood nurse, had moved back to New York and were living together.

References record that Gertrude Pew married Frederick G Robinson (?->1949). This must have been after 1920, when she was aged 44. Thus it is probably unlikely she had any children.

Gertrude continued to use her maiden name for her work, as at the 1933 National Miniature Exhibition she exhibited two works under the name Gertrude L Pew from her address at 914 Carnegie Hall, NYC. Presumably this is where her studio was. They were of "Mr William Rockefeller" and "The Young Painter".

A daughter of Marlen Pew recollected that Gertrude restored the Andrew Mellon (or possibly the J Pierpont Morgan) collection of miniatures, presumably after returning from Paris. It is not known if a Mellon collection is still together, but the J Pierpont Morgan Collection was sold many years ago.

She also painted many famous Americans, including President Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, J Pierpont Morgan, and Mrs John D Rockefeller .

The sitter in the miniature shown here is unknown.

Gertrude painted other art, rather than just miniatures. In 2006 this portrait of a lady was auctioned. It was described as:

"GERTRUDE L. PEW (Mrs. Frederic G. Robinson) (American b.1876) "A Victorian Beauty" watercolor on paper.

Illustration for a postcard, signed "G.L. Pew, N.Y. 1902" left center. 11"x14" oval. Lot is accompanied by 3 similar postcards of young women, signed G.L. Pew NY."

The estimate was $1,000-$1,500 and the lot sold for $850.

There is another portrait by Gertrude Pew at Mystic Seaport - Searching Objects

Although no picture is available, it is described as: "Watercolor, full-length portrait of Miss Charlotte Rogers Greenman (1/20/1820-5/19/1879), wife of Thomas Stillman Greenman; wearing a pale gold gown with lace-trimmed white collar. Elaborate sleeves are also trimmed with white lace. Medium is gouache with evidence of watercolor base. Artist: Gertrude L. Pew."

In 2005 this painting of a Mallard duck was auctioned by Elders Antiques.

It was described as: "Gertrude L. Pew, American, born 1876, Springing Mallard, Oil on Canvas. Label on verso: Springville High Art Association, Titled Springing Mallard. Weight: 5 1/4 lbs. Measurements: 26 3/4 x 21 1/2 in."

Inclusive of buyer's premium, the painting sold for $680.

The label on the reverse of the large painting confirms the location of her studio as being at 914 Carnegie Hall.

At the same auction this miniature on ivory of two ducks was sold for $455.

It was described as: "Gertrude L. Pew, American, born 1876, Miniature Oil on Ivory. Signed lower right. Measurements: Sight Size: 2 7/8 x 4 1/2 in."

On the reverse was written, "Gertrud (sic) Pue (sic) Robinson".

The New York Times of 29 Jun 1949 carried her obituary. 423

1 comment:

Oscar said...

Just bought a miniature by Gertrude L. Pew. Oval in brass frame of a very attractive serviceman, wearing his U.S. uniform, the picture is dated 1921. Thank you for the information about her, it has saved me one major search.

If you would like additional information, please email me at