Updated: May 5, 2020
By: Peter M. Bush and Eve M. Kahn
Art historian, writer and frequent New York Times contributor Eve M. Kahn
helped kick off the forgotten artists of Sloatsburg series on Sunday, October 14,
2018 at state and national register Harmony Hall-Jacob Sloat House. A sold-out
audience in the double parlor was enthralled with the details of the life and times
of Edith Varian Cockcroft (1881-1962).
Cockcroft, a Brooklyn native, studied art with William Merritt Chase and traveled
widely in Europe before World War I. Critics lauded her atmospheric views of
French and British coastal villages and portraits of nudes against vibrant fabric
backdrops. She exhibited at venues including the Paris Salon, the National
Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Art
Institute of Chicago. Collectors as far away as Moscow acquired her work.
In the 1920s, she ran a Manhattan couture studio and patented methods for
printing silk in patterns partly based on Javanese batiks. Her blouse-making kits
were marketed nationwide as a “silk sensation.” In the 1930s, she moved to
Sloatsburg, where she kept painting—from Europe to Haiti—and designing
textiles while also producing dinnerware sets in metallic glazes.
Esteemed first-time visitors to Harmony Hall from Brooklyn, Manhattan, New
Jersey and Connecticut included longtime art scholars, collectors, gallery owners
and a board member of the Preservation League of New York State. Guests were
treated to a festive post-lecture repast and an art installation of Cockcroft
paintings and pottery in the dining room. The pieces on view spanned several
decades of the artist’s travels and career, and the display demonstrated how she
prolifically painted landscapes and portraits and created acclaimed ceramics at
her Sloatsburg studio.
The Friends of Harmony Hall-Jacob Sloat House wish to sincerely thank Eve for a
dynamic and entertaining lecture and look forward to future collaborations. Stay tuned for more stories of forgotten artist of Sloatsburg in 2019!
Publications featuring the event:
Maine Antique Digest