top of page

Ellen Day Hale

ELLEN DAY HALE American (1855-1940) Kettle charcoal on paper, stamped "E.D.H." lower right 4 7/8" x 4 3/8"

Ellen Day Hale was born on February 11, 1855 in Worcester, Massachusetts, into an elite Boston Brahmin family. Hale's father was author and orator Edward Everett Hale, and her mother was Emily Baldwin Perkins. Although the Hale family was well respected among the Boston upper class, they were not exceptionally wealthy. Her father acted as a Unitarian chaplain in the U.S. Senate from 1904 until his death in 1909, and Hale often assisted her father in his church-related duties. Hale was one of eight children, and she helped her mother and father take care of her younger siblings. From a young age, Hale was raised within an artistic atmosphere, as her mother encouraged her interest in art, and her aunt, watercolorist Susan Hale, most likely provided her first artistic instruction. Her brother was Philip Leslie Hale, a celebrated artist and art critic, and he married Lilian Westcott Hale, an Impressionist painter.

Hale's family background provided her with a network of strong female role models. Her great-aunt was Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Educator Catharine Beecher and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker were also great-aunts. One of Hale's first cousins was writer and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, best known for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper".


Hale, the sole daughter of the renowned public speaker and writer Edward Everett Hale and Emily Baldwin Perkins, hailed from a family brimming with distinguished personalities. Among her relatives, her great-great-uncle Nathan Hale stood as a Revolutionary War patriot, her great-aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe authored "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and her brother Philip, along with his wife Lilian Westcott Hale, gained fame as professional painters.

Remaining unmarried, Hale took on the responsibility of raising her seven younger brothers. As her mother fell ill, she assumed the role of hostess for her father while he served as a chaplain to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., from 1904 until his passing in 1909.

Her artistic pursuits led her to attend classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but her true inspiration came from her experiences in France at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian, where she was a student in 1882 and 1885, respectively. Additionally, she acquired the art of etching from Gabrielle de Veaux Clements, a lifelong friend and also represented in NMWA's collection.

Hale's exhibition journey commenced in 1876 at the Boston Art Club, where she showcased her artwork. Her creations also found display at esteemed venues such as the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Paris Salon, and significant galleries in Philadelphia and Chicago.

Supplementing her income through teaching, Hale led a nomadic lifestyle until she settled down at nearly 50 years of age. Undeterred by age, she persisted in painting well into her 80s.

Ellen Day Hale

1855 - 1940

Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA


bottom of page