Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977, American)

Gertrude Abercrombie and CatGertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977, American) was called the “queen of the bohemian artists”. Abercrombie was born in Austin, Texas to Christian Scientist parents who were opera singers. Raised in Chicago, she attended college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also took courses in figure drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago and studied commercial art at the American Academy of Art also in Chicago. Abercrombie’s first job was drawing gloves for department store ads.

In the early 1930’s Abercrombie decided to concentrate on her art and began exhibiting at local fairs. In 1934, her work was exhibited by the Chicago Society of Artists.

Abercrombie married several times and became acquainted with the Chicago jazz scene through her marriages. Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughn became her friends.

However, Abercrombie’s health declined in the 1950’s due to alcoholism, and arthritis which led to her becoming a recluse. Even so, the 50’s are considered her most prolific period. After 1959, Abercrombie stopped producing as many paintings as she had done in previous years, as she was essentially bedridden and had to use a wheelchair.

Abercrombie loved and had cats. Many of her paintings feature a lone woman, herself, with a hint of magic or sorcery depicted with the use of a symbolic owl or black cat. Her painting The Stroll captures this essence. Abercrombie in an interview with Studs Terkel stated, “It is always myself that I paint.”  Abercrombie said that she was not interested in complicated themes; she liked strange, uncommon, simple things.

In 1977, the year of Gertrude Abercrombie’s death, a retrospective of her work was held at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago.


The Stroll, 1943 Abercrombie

The Stroll, 1943


Siamese Cat, 1956, Gertrude Abercrombie

Siamese Cat, 1956


Black Cat with White Ball, 1957 Gertrude Abercrombie

Black Cat with White Ball, 1957


Black Cat, Cloud and Ball Abercrombie

Black Cat, Cloud and Ball, 1957


Black Street Cat, Gertrude Abercrombie

Black Street Cat


Bohemian Queen and her Cat, Gertrude Abercrombie

Bohemian Queen(Abercrombie) and her Cat, 1953


Cat with Blue Ball, Abercrombie

Cat with Blue Ball, 1956


Cat with Portrait, Abercrombie

Cat with Portrait of Abraham Lincoln


Cat, Moon and String, Abercrombie

Cat, Moon and Ball, 1956


Doors and Black Cat, Abercrombie

Doors and Black Cat


Head on a Plate with Black Cat Abercrombie

Head on a Plate with Black Cat


Interior with White Cat, Abercrombie

Interior with White Cat


Three Cats with Bowls of Milk, Abercrombie

Three Cats with Bowls of Milk


Three Cats with Clouds overhead, Abercrombie

Three Cats with Clouds Overhead


Two Cats, Abercrombie

Two Cats


White Cat with Crescent Moon, Gertrude Abercrombie

White Cat with Crescent Moon


White Cat, ca. 1935-1938, Abercrombie

White Cat, ca. 1935-1938



Want to know more about the cat in literature, art and history? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for  you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Laura Vocelle

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