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Fidelia Bridges (1834-1923)

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Fidelia Bridges became a specialist in the 1860s and 1870s in detailed watercolor studies of plants and flowers and birds in their natural surroundings. This was a time when watercolor became increasingly respected. She was a follower of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in art, the close-focus, detailed, small scale watercolor technique espoused by John Ruskin. Of her painting of this period, landscapist John Kensett wrote in "Art Journal": 'Her works are like little lyric poems, and she dwells with loving touches on each of her birds like blossoms atilt among the leaves'. (Rubinstein 62).

However, later in Fidelia Bridges career, her style became somewhat looser in that the backgrounds were less defined.

Fidelia Bridges was also an illustrator, a part of her career that began in 1876 when she sold her first watercolors to publisher and chromo lithographer Louis Prang. For Prang, with whom she worked from 1881 to 1899, she designed greeting cards and illustrated calendars and books including in 1886, "Familiar Birds and What Poets Sing of Them".

Fidelia Bridges was the child of parents who, living in China, died when she was young. She became a mother's helper in a Quaker household in Brooklyn, New York, and then was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with William Trost Richards. He encouraged her highly realistic style of recording nature with botanical accuracy and once she got her own studio, promoted her among his wealthy friends. She became a close friend to his family.

Generally Fidelia Bridges had a quiet, independent life focused on the serenity of nature. She lived in Salem, Massachusetts until 1892, when she moved to Canaan, Connecticut and lived the remainder of her life. Source: askart.com

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