Etchings by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner
Elizabeth O’Neill Verner was born in December of 1883 in Charleston, the daughter of Mary Baker and Henry O’Neill. Her artistic talent was nurtured early in her life by her maternal grandfather as well as her friend Alice Ravenel Huger Smith [coming April 2013]. Still she followed the path of many young women of her time, going off to school (Pennsylvania) for a year or two before returning home and marrying. In 1907, she wed Pettigrew Verner and they settled in Charleston. While she pursued her art, it might not have been as wholehearted as she might have wished as she was also the mother of two young children. When her husband died suddenly in 1925, followed within months by her mother, friends were able to persuade her to utilize her art as a source of income. To great success at it happens - which is a fortunate legacy for us; as we now have an impressive body of work that immortalizes Charleston of a “bygone era.” Ironically, she wrote in her own book, Prints and Impressions of Charleston, published in 1939, that she would have liked to capture the Charleston of her own youth - which had also become a “bygone era” by the time she started her professional career.
The etchings seen here are a small sample of what is held by the Charleston Museum Archives. It is believed that the majority of these etchings were left in the Museum’s care as part of the agreement between the Museum and The Charleston Etchers’ Club, of which Verner was a founding member. For allowing the Club to keep (and use) its press at the Museum, each member was expected to give prints to the Museum. While it seems some members were more scrupulous in their adherence to this than others, it became a moot point for Verner as by 1926, she had purchased her own press. It seems her business was doing well. In fact, though Verner died in 1979, you can still visit the Verner Gallery at 38 Tradd Street today.
Click to view our recent Textile Tuesday posting of Verner pieces
EPHEMERA FRIDAY: Each Friday we post a selection or small collection from our Archives. Some items may be on exhibit, some may be too fragile to display and some may be too unusual to fit into our typical Lowcountry exhibit themes. We will occasionally ask for help identifying people or places in photographs that have come to us with little or no information. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on EPHEMERA FRIDAY.