Fern Coppedge

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Born in Decatur, Illinois, Fern Coppedge (1883-1951) painted from an early age. She received her artistic training with William Merritt Chase, John Carlsen, Henry B. Snell, and studied at the Art Students League in New York City as well as under the tutelage of Daniel Garber at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Early studies and career

After her years as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, Coppedge became a resident of the Bucks County town of Lumberville, PA. A few years later, Coppedge established herself in her own home and studio in the quaint river town of New Hope where she lived for more than 30 years. She maintained her studio, Boxwood, on Main Street in New Hope and showed with an influential group of women painters as “The Philadelphia Ten.” This artist group included: Theresa Bernstein, Cora Brooks, Isabel Cartwright, Constance Cochrane, Mary Colton, Fern Coppedge, Nancy Ferguson, Lucile Howard, Helen McCarthy and M. Elizabeth Price.

Mature work

Coppedge was an active member of the following art societies: National Academy of Women Painters and Sculptors, Plastic C, Philadelphia Art Alliance, The Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Arts Students League of New York, Ten Philadelphia Painters, the North Shore Art Alliance and the Gloucester Sketch Artists.

Pennsylvania Impressionism

Coppedge’s works are intriguing based on her palette and her bold use of color. Some described her color palette as Fauvist like that of French masters, Henri Matisse and Andre Derain and her brightly colored paintings became her trademark. The bright colors that she consistently employed– oranges, violets, teal blues, and greens– have become characteristic of her work and indicative of her mature style. The paintings that have become closely associated with Coppedge’s overall career work are those from the 1930s to the early 1950s depicting the environs of the Delaware River and the seasonal changes of beautiful Bucks County. Coppedge’s works inspire collectors and museum goers based solely on color as she is known, not for her skills relating to compositionals or structure of subject matter and perspective, but for her bold and bright color forms within her paintings. Her work has enjoyed great praise for her dynamic brushwork and her fearless use of modernist.

Coppedge’s work are in the collections of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA; the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA), Detroit, MI; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Request an online appraisal of your Fern Coppedge work of art from Dr. Lori.