Lucretia Van Horn

Theme/Style – Modernism, Cubism, Surrealism, Art Deco, Mexican motifs

Media – Oils, watercolors, drawings, illustrations

Artistic Focus – While Lucretia Van Horn’s “accomplished, meticulous style” initially brought her early work as a book illustrator, her subsequent exposure to Diego Rivera’s work caused her to create more rounded, simplified figures pressed against a flattened picture plane. Her subject matter evolved as well, focusing more on the lives of women, especially those indigenous to Mexico.

Career Highlights –

• Born in St. Louis but a frequent resident of her father’s Louisiana plantation, Lucretia (LeBourgeois) Van Horn was privately educated, orphaned at age 14, and subsequently lived in Washington, D.C. with the family of her mother’s sister, where she was introduced to artists by her aunt and uncle.
• Van Horn began her art studies in 1897 at the Art Students’ League in New York, and traveled to Paris in 1902, where in 1904 she became the first woman student to be awarded Academie Julian’s Concours Julian-Smith Prize.
• In 1908 she married Robert Van Horn, a military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, and after World War I, having settled in San Antonio with her husband and two daughters, Van Horn traveled to Mexico, where she worked on several murals with Diego Rivera.
• With the family’s move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1927, Van Horn became a prominent member of the local art community, painting and exhibiting frequently. But with the death of her older daughter in 1932, she produced few additional works and did not exhibit again until 1943.
• The Van Horns were living in Georgia when Robert Van Horn retired from the military in 1940, and in 1941 the family returned to Palo Alto, where Lucretia remained until her death.