Edith Lake Wilkinson

Edith Lake Wilkinson was an early white-line printmaker, based out of New York City and Provincetown.

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1868, Edith moved to New York by herself in 1888 to study at the Art Students’ League. During the next 3 decades, she lived on the upper west side with a woman named Fannie, travelled to Europe a number of times, and became a part-time resident of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Then, in 1924 she was committed to the Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, a sanitarium for the mentally ill; this was quite possibly encouraged by the family lawyer who subsequently siphoned off her funds. Objections had also been raised to Edith’s “close and constant contact” with her longtime companion Fannie. Since Edith’s only sister had died years earlier and her aged parents had recently died under suspicious circumstances, there was no family left to advocate for her. Edith was never heard from again.

Once she was put away, Edith’s work and all her worldly possessions were packed into trunks and shipped off to her nephew in West Virginia where they sat in an attic collecting dust for the next 40 years until they were unearthed by family members.


In 2015, her great-niece, Emmy-winning writer and director Jane Anderson, shared the decades-worth of discoveries she has made about Edith Lake Wilkinson and her art with the world in the documentary Packed In a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson.

This exhibition in sponsored in part by Seamen’s Bank.

Image: Edith Lake Wilkinson, detail of untitled (house with pumpkin) c.1920 oil on canvas, PAAM Collection, Anonymous extended loan, 2014