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Hannah Rusk Kelly (1860-1935)

Hannah Rusk Kelly (1860-1935)


"Untitled (Woman in Chair)"


Oil on Ivory

3.5" x 4.5" Images

4.5" x 5.5" Frame


Signed front bottom right | Excellent Condition

Provenance: Private Hamilton Collection

  • Biography

    Hannah Rusk Kelly was born on October 22, 1859, in Elderslie Township, Ontario to William and Sarah Jane (McLaughlin) Rusk. William and Sarah Jane had a large family, with Hannah being one of ten children. During her youth, the family lived on a farm on Lot 7, Concession 10 in Elderslie Township. Hannah’s father was a creative individual like his daughter. William innovatively made a wooden pump on their farm. This led to the family moving to Paisley and the production of the popular Rusk pump at the Paisley Pump Works.


    Realizing her own dreams, Hannah left Paisley to pursue a career in art. She attended art schools in Hamilton, Toronto, Boston (New England Conservatory of Art), and Philadelphia, and in 1887, she opened an art studio in Hamilton. She later finished her training in Paris, France, at the Académie Colarossi. While in Paris, she achieved a feat few Canadians have; four of her paintings were hung in the Paris Salon. It was also in Paris where she met her husband, Reverend Samuel Philip Kelly, an American Episcopal minister. They married in 1897 in Philadelphia.


    Throughout the years, The Paisley Advocate proudly published some updates on Hannah’s success. The April 26, 1906 issue states: “Mrs. S.P. Kelly, of Philadelphia, (nee Miss Hannah Rusk, of Paisley), has won recognition as an artist in the Quaker city [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.]. She had a miniature accepted for a recent exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts, and also had a watercolor and a miniature in an exhibition at the Art Club in that city”.


    Hannah eventually moved back to Hamilton after the death of her husband. Here she was an active member of the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton and continued to paint miniatures on ivory, as well as portraits. Hannah died on June 19, 1935, in Hamilton. She is buried here in Bruce County, in the Rusk Family plot at Paisley Cemetery.



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