b. Kenilworth, IL, 1904–d. Chicago, 1997
Frances Badger was born to a prominent family in Kenilworth, Illinois in 1904. Beginning at the age of six, she attended the junior school branch of the Art Institute in Winnetka, studying under Pauline Dohn Rudolph. Badger attended regular children’s classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and after graduation from Roycemore School in Evanston, she returned to SAIC to earn her degree in studio art in 1925, studying with Matilda Vanderpoel (sister of the legendary Art Institute teacher John Vanderpoel), and muralist John Warner Norton. After a study trip in Europe with Ms. Vanderpoel in 1925, Badger took a studio in the Fine Arts Building and taught art at Roycemore School.
During the Great Depression, which wiped out her family's fortune, Badger qualified for the Illinois Art Project of the Works Project Administration (WPA). She was a prolific muralist, who created works for libraries, schools, hospitals, and field houses in Chicago, Oak Park, and Joliet, Illinois. An indispensable presence in the Chicago community of artists for many years, Badger showed at seventeen annual exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1927 and 1943, and served as president of the Chicago Society of Artists. She was also active in the Arts Club of Chicago and shared working space at the Tree Studios in the mid 1930s with Arts Club director, Rue Wintherbotham Shaw. Badger married Paul Schofield, the son of Chicago artist Flora Schofield, and in the 1940s returned to study and teach at the School of the Art Institute with her friends Ethel Spears and Kathleen Blackshear.
Celery Pickers, No. 1 was shown at the 1941 Chicago and Vicinity Exhibition. Its luminous colors and tight brushwork are similar in style to her murals, which were made to communicate directly and appealingly to a broad audience. The popularity of this canvas may have tempted Badger to exhibit another version of the subject in gouache on paper, Celery Pickers, No. 2, in the 1943 International Watercolor exhibition at the Art Institute.
Gray, Mary Lackritz. A Guide to Chicago Public Murals. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Bulliet, C. J. “Artists of Chicago, Past and Present, no. 101: Frances S. Badger.” Chicago Daily News, August 26, 1939.
Artist Image: Frances Badger / unidentified photographer. Copyright by owner.