Rachael’s New York Postcards at 100


Rachael’s New York Postcards at 100 (2014 seasonal exhibit)

RRE_PHOTOWho would guess that an artist born and bred on a Vermont farm created the most iconic postcards of New York City? But that’s what Rachael Robinson Elmer did. Her ground-breaking “Art-Lovers New York” postcards are 100 years old — and still beautiful!

Rachael Robinson Elmer changed the world of American postcards 100 years ago. She pioneered the fine art city view card when her stunning Impressionist paintings of popular scenes in her beloved New York were produced as postcards. Published by P. F. Volland in 1914, the “Art Lover’s New York” cards were immediately copied by dozens of artists in New York and elsewhere.

RRE_MISSING_POSTCARDThis exhibit presents all twelve cards, the three London postcards that inspired Rachael, her working sketches, newspaper coverage, and biographical background. Full sets of these scarce and now highly collectible cards are rarely seen.

The exhibit also includes a surprise (at right, click for larger view) — a previously unknown painting for an unpublished thirteenth card. Paul Volland rejected one of the first eight paintings Rachael proposed — a sunny, sprintime view of New York City Hall with the (then) brand new Municipal Building towering up behind it. The painting remains in Rokeby’s collection and will be exhibited for the first time.

Rachael Robinson Elmer was born at Rokeby to artist parents Rowland Evans and Anna Stevens Robinson in 1878. Her art education began before she had even started school and continued with a young people’s summer art program in New York City and later, at the Art Students League. She moved to New York as a young woman and commenced a successful career as a graphic artist. Rachael married businessman Robert Elmer in 1911 and died prematurely in February 1919 in the Spanish flu epidemic.