Wiedhoff (Wiedhopf), Etta Lea - portraits of a lady and of 3 children
One of these miniature portraits is clearly signed "Etta L Wiedhoff" (Jun 3, 1894-Feb 1975). She is buried at Sunnyside, Queens, NY. In the Ile de France passenger records for a 1930 crossing, Etta gave her age as 36 and place of birth as New York.
The portrait is housed in a red leather case marked Cartier, but the sitter is unknown.
The portrait of the three girls is by the same artist, but on this portrait, she has clearly signed herself Etta L Wiedhopf. There are a number of tantalizing clues to the sitters, but so far they have not been fully identified. The seller of the portrait had purchased it a neighbor who was the girl in the centre. From various conversations, the seller was able to recollect the following information.
The married name of the girl was Joan Campbell and she had married an artist who painted in a social realism style. They had lived in New York previously, but Joan later divorced and moved to Washington, Around 2000 she moved to a retirement community in Florida. However, she did have a son living in New York. Joan had previously said her father was the publisher of the first Yiddish newspaper in New York. Joan had been an anthropologist who had worked in Africa and India. During World War II, she was stationed in the Pacific. Her father may have had a goatee beard.
This all should be sufficient to identify the sitters, but without success so far, and so research is continuing. Thus any information would be welcomed. To date, the most likely person for her father seems to be Abraham Cahan (1860-1951), who founded the Jewish Forward newspaper in 1897. He is also famous as an author and wrote "The Rise of David Levnisky" in 1917. See also Abraham Cahan
It is not known why Etta signed both as Etta L Wiedhoff and Etta L Wiedhopf". 840, 1186
Much later - A kind visitor has advised:
While conducting genealogical research, I was very excited to come across your blog entry for Etta Lea Wiedhopf's artwork. I'm very curious to hear how you came into contact with her work and what else you might be able to tell me about her. Etta Wiedhopf is my first cousin, 3x removed. My great-great-grandmother was Pearl Wiedhopf Gelfand, Etta Lea's aunt.
I can tell you that Jacob Wiedhopf, Etta's father, was also a painter and portraiture was his vocation. It seems his daughter followed in his footsteps. (I've attached a clipping from Long Island Daily Press of July 20, 1934, showing that Etta had enrolled in a summer portrait class.) Though Etta and her siblings were born in New York City, her parents were originally from Galicia, a heavily Jewish area that was then a part of the Austrian Empire. When my great-great-grandmother Pearl Wiedhopf Gelfand was killed in an anti-Jewish pogrom in Odessa, her husband Isaac and six children fled to New York City and lived with the Wiedhopfs (Jacob, wife Bessie, and at that time six children) in a three-room apartment. Though Etta often gave her year of birth as 1894, she was actually born in 1890, the first of eight children.
Do you happen to know when the painting of the three sitting girls was done? Before I read the story of the sisters, I wondered if the girls were Etta's three sisters: Anna (b. 1891), Ida (b. 1894), and Elsie (b. 1904). The sitting girls could possibly fit with the age range of the Wiedhopf sisters.
I appreciate any information you can give, and I'm grateful that you put this piece of art online. It's wonderful to see something an old family member created so many years ago.
I have given grateful thanks to the visitor and advised them that I had posted all I could find, so the extra information is welcome. I would think the portraits date to the 1930's, around or after she enrolled in the art class, so regret they are probably not her sisters. Thus if Etta was born in 1890 it seems unlikely she could paint her sisters in 1930 era cloths at the ages portrayed.
Posted by Don Shelton at 4:27 PM