Selected Newcomb Artisan Bios

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Aurelia Josephine Coralie Arbo

Aurelia Josephine Coralie Arbo

November 29, 1909 - 1993

Aurelia Josephine Coralie Arbo was born in New Orleans on November 29, 1909, to Henry Arthur Arbo, a piano tuner, and Henrietta Caroline Geier. She was one of nine children.

Arbo began her studies at Newcomb in 1927, receiving a Bachelor of Design in 1931. After graduation, she worked as a decorator at the Pottery until its closure in 1940. She was paid a salary of $50 a month (the equivalent to $940.00 in today market) as well as a commission of one-third for her artworks sold at the Newcomb Art School’s salesroom.

Her pottery piece "Elephant" was exhibited at the Contemporary Crafts Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1937 and was selected to be included at the Paris Exposition in 1938. Two of her ceramic bowls, "Peacock Feathers" and "Butterfly Wings," were exhibited at the Seventh National Ceramic Exhibition at the Syracuse New York Museum of Fine Arts and later in the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.

Toward the end of 1939, former Newcomb ceramicist Paul E. Cox hired Arbo to work as a decorator at his own pottery business in Harahan, Louisiana. There, she decorated ceramic objects in the Newcomb style. However, Cox’s pottery failed, and in lieu of payment Arbo was given the works she produced back to her. The job, however, gave Arbo credit towards obtaining her Louisiana teacher’s certificate, which we was awarded in 1943.

The New Orleans Public School system hired Arbo as an art teacher in the Eleanor McMain Secondary School and L. E. Rabouin Vocational High School. An October 15, 1948 Times Picayune article featured a story on Rabouin’s new course offering, art interior decoration, where Arbo was listed as the instructor.

Arbo died in 1993.

May Hollinshead Asbury

May Hollinshead Asbury enrolled at Newcomb College in 1919 and received her Bachelor of Design in 1923, specializing in ceramics and metalwork. After graduation, she traveled to Europe and, upon her return, started work as a fashion illustrator for Bonwit Teller in New York. During these years, she attended classes at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Penland School of Crafts in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In 1938 Asbury moved to Georgia and began teaching private art lessons for children, as well as art classes at Wesleyan College and the Women’s College of Georgia. Arthritis, however, curtailed her personal studio pursuits.

She married in 1940 and had one son. She died in Baldwin County, Georgia on September 21, 1986.

Eunice Baccich

Eunice Baccich

1895 - May 28, 1981

Eunice Baccich was born in New Orleans in 1895 to Croatian parents. Her early education was at a convent school in the Vieux Carrè, She enrolled as a freshman at Newcomb College in 1913. Baccich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1918, and was awarded a Bachelor of Design the following year. Between 1919 and 1921, she is listed as a Graduate Art student, joining the ranks of Art Craftsman from 1921–1929.

Baccich specialized in bookbinding, of which she believed was meant to “to preserve the book,” and to “create an artistic work” by designing the cover and end papers in an original way, which would be “in harmony with the contents of the book.”

Appointed Assistant in Bookbinding in 1931, Baccich replaced the former professor, Lota Lee Troy, when Troy assumed the directorship of the Newcomb Art School. Baccich’s name also appears in the Tulane bulletin as a jewelry instructor, and she is listed in the 1930 census as a “bookbinding craftsman.”

Baccich retired from the Newcomb Art School in the spring of 1943 and went to work for the U.S. government as an occupational therapist during WWII. After the war she worked at the New Orleans Public Library.

Baccich died in New Orleans on May 28, 1981.

Henrietta Davidson Bailey

Henrietta Davidson Bailey

February 27, 1874 - November 10, 1950

Henrietta Bailey was one of the more prolific artists at the Newcomb Pottery, working at the school for over 30 years.

Born in New Orleans on February 27, 1874, she enrolled at Newcomb College as a Normal Art student in 1901 and graduated in 1903, only to re-register as a Graduate Art student from 1903–1905. In 1905 she was awarded a prestigious scholarship to study with Arthur Wesley Dow at his summer school in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where she was able to further develop her style of Arts and Crafts decoration.

Bailey is listed in the University yearbook as an independent designer from 1904 until 1909, when she was made an official Art Craftsman. As a Craftsman, she worked as a pottery decorator and as well as a printmaker, and also served as a substitute instructor for China Painting classes. In 1926 she joined the faculty as an art instructor, and she stayed until retirement in 1938.

Bailey’s ceramic work is atmospheric and her blockprints have a recognizable style that feature misty, overcast Louisiana swamps and bayous with “beautiful moonlight, sunlight and early morning overtones.” Her work was exhibited in the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California, and in 1931 she received first prize at Southern States Art Leagues Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia for the best collection of decorated pottery. Bailey also exhibited her ceramics at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Arts Association of New Orleans, and other prominent galleries throughout the South.

Henrietta Davidson Bailey died on November 10, 1950.

Marie Levering Benson

Marie Levering Benson

November 1877 - November 12, 1958

Marie Levering Benson was born in Louisiana November 1877. Benson enrolled as a Special Art student in 1904–1906, a degree designed to train students to become teachers. Benson’s studies focused on arts education, and her facility for pottery decoration was immediately recognized by Newcomb professors. Benson was awarded the Newcomb Art School’s traveling scholarship in 1906 and spent the summer studying with Arthur Wesley Dow in Ipswich, Massachusetts. When she returned to Newcomb she completed the Normal Art course.

Benson moved to Washington, D.C. in 1908 after accepting a teaching position at the National Arts and Crafts School. The following year she became an instructor in Design and Ceramics at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Remembering the lessons of the Pottery enterprise, she drew inspiration from her surroundings and experimented with Kansas’s native clays to produce her pottery. Unspecified samples of her work were shown at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

Benson remained in Lawrence until 1920, when she returned to New Orleans and married at the age of 42.

Marie Levering Benson Mollere died on November 12, 1958 at the home of her stepson, Jefferson Parish political figure, Jules G. Mollere.

Alix Bettison

March 29, 1890 - February 20, 1983

Alix Bettison was born March 29, 1890 in Brenham, Texas. Bettison was a lifelong member of the church of Christian Scientists and published on the subject.

Bettison enrolled in the Newcomb Art School in 1908 and appears in the 1910 College bulletin under the School of Household Economy, but she was awarded a Diploma in Art in 1911. She is listed as a Graduate Art student in the 1911–1912 Tulane catalogue. Her areas of specialization were jewelry-making and embroidery, though some pottery has been found with her signature on it as well. The 1920 census listed Bettison as an “Artist; Craftsman in Jewelry.”

Alix Bettison Colby died on February 20, 1983 in Winter Park, Florida.

Selina E. Bres

Selina E. Bres

January 1, 1870 - November 6, 1953

Selina E. Bres was born in New Orleans on January 1, 1870, to Jean Baptiste Bres and Elizabeth Adams, a member of the New England Adams family that gave the country two presidents.

Selina Bres is among the early participants in Newcomb’s fledgling art program. In 1886–87, she enrolled in the Saturday drawing classes offered by Tulane University and registered at Newcomb College shortly after. She was a member of the first ceramic decorating class in 1895 and purportedly sold the first piece of Newcomb pottery. Bres received a Diploma in Art in 1896; from 1896 to 1902 she is identified in University publications as a Graduate Art student. She married William B. Gregory, Tulane University professor of Engineering, on June 21, 1898, and later had three children, one being the famed New Orleans sculptor, Angela Gregory.

Bres returned to Newcomb as Art Craftsman in the 1908–1909 and 1909–1910 sessions; she also became a student of voice and piano. The New Orleans City Directories of 1924–1935 list her as a professional artist. She was an active member of the arts community in New Orleans throughout her life, exhibiting with the Artist’s Guild and Arts and Crafts Club, the latter being one she helped to organize.

Selina Bres Gregory died on November 6, 1953 at an American hospital in Paris, France.

Ruth Bultmann

September 24, 1894 - October 10, 1975

Ruth Bultmann was born in New Orleans September 24, 1894 to German parents. She received a Diploma in Art from Newcomb College in 1917. She continued her education and was awarded a Bachelor of Design in 1919. Her area of concentration was calligraphy. The 1919–20 and 1920–21 University catalogues list her as a Graduate Art student. After leaving Newcomb, she applied her talents to designing bookplates and greeting cards, as well as advertising signs, stationery, and funeral cards for her family’s funeral home business. Bultmann returned to Newcomb in the years 1931–33 as an Art Craftsman for the Pottery enterprise. She died on October 10, 1975 in Metairie, Louisiana.

Mary Williams Butler

Mary Williams Butler

March 15, 1873 - October 20, 1937

Mary Williams Butler was born in New Orleans on March 15, 1873. Butler began her career at Newcomb in 1898 as a Special Art student. In 1899, she enrolled in Newcomb College and received her Diploma in Art in the spring of 1901. She worked as a pottery decorator before her academic tenure with the College. Beginning in 1901, Butler was an instructor/graduate student in drawing and design, achieving a full professorship in 1934. She was the genesis for the metalwork program at the Newcomb Pottery, and was influential in acquiring fellowships, scholarships and exhibitions for many students. Butler spent her summers learning new pedagogy and studio techniques, in particular at Harvard with Denman Ross and at the Kalo Shop in Chicago.

Mary Williams Butler was scheduled to retire in 1938 at the mandatory age of sixty-five, but on October 20, 1937, she suffered a fatal heart attack. Newcomb College suspended classes the following afternoon in her honor.

Corinne Chalaron

Corinne Chalaron

November 1, 1900 - 1977

Corinne Chalaron was born in New Orleans on November 1, 1900. She worked as an Art Craftsman at the Pottery enterprise between 1922 and 1924. Chalaron’s design aesthetic is easily recognizable. Her nature patterns incorporated tiers unfolding like a lotus, inspired by the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Leaving for one year, she came back to Newcomb in the 1925–26 academic session. When Mary Sheerer returned from Paris in 1925, Chalaron embraced the new Art Deco style, utilizing geometric forms to create abstractions that gave her work a unique, syncopated rhythm. The influence of the “modern” may have precipitated her enrollment—while still working at the Pottery—in the Tulane University School of Architecture. She received her Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1926. After graduation, she taught at the state college in Denton, Texas.

Browning Coleman

October 3, 1883 - July 30, 1958

Browning Coleman was born in New Orleans on October 3, 1883. Coleman entered Newcomb College in 1900. The University catalogues of 1901–02 and 1902–03 list her as a Normal Art student, where she developed skills in pottery decoration. Many of her designs feature dragonflies, which is often seen in other American Arts and Crafts designs. Coleman was also an athlete- playing on the College’s basketball team. She was prominently featured in the society pages of the New Orleans newspapers between 1904 and 1912. After marrying, she traveled often, visiting places like Sweden and Guatemala, but no record shows that she continued making art. Browning Coleman Moore died on July 30, 1958.

Helen Pauline DeGrange

May 11, 1872 - May 19, 1962

Helen Pauline DeGrange was born in New Orleans on May 11, 1872. Helen DeGrange appears as a Special Art student in the University catalogue from 1888–1903. She is listed in the 1891–92 catalogue as a postgraduate student in mathematics. The 1901 College bulletin lists her as a Graduate Art student (Plate 48). Mrs. McLellan served as president of the Newcomb Alumnae Association for a number of years and was chairman of the Newcomb Loan Fund, an Association endeavor that advanced money at a nominal rate to Newcomb students whose families could not pay their tuition. Helen “Weenie” DeGrange McLellan died on May 19, 1962.

Marie Odelle Delavigne

Marie Odelle Delavigne

October 22, 1973 - February 25, 1963

Marie Odelle Delavigne was born in New Orleans on October 22, 1973. Delavigne first enrolled at Newcomb College as a Special Art student in the 1892–93 academic session. Receiving a Diploma in Art in 1896, she is listed as a Graduate Art student from 1896–99. Her worked as an Art Craftsman for the Pottery enterprise began in 1901 and lasted until 1925. Miss Delavigne was a pottery decorator but her area of specialization was embroidery. She exhibited extensively, and her work was illustrated in a number of arts and crafts magazines of the time. The Works Progress Administration (renamed the Work Project Administration in 1939) employed Delavigne as a seamstress in the Sewing Project in 1937. In the 1920 census, Delavigne’s occupation is listed as “Art Craftsman – Newcomb College”; In 1930, her occupation is listed as “Art Teacher – Independent”; and in the 1940 census her occupation is identified as “Seamstress – Sewing Project.” Delavigne died February 25, 1963.

Esther Huger Elliot

Esther Huger Elliot

June 4, 1872 - November 1957

Esther Huger Elliot was born on June 4, 1872. She was born deaf, and was raised by her grandmother.

She began her art career as a member of the Saturday art classes offered by Tulane University after the 1884 World Exposition and Cotton Centennial in New Orleans. Adept in the class projects of object drawing and rendering from plaster casts, she enrolled at Newcomb College as a Special Art student in the 1890–91 session. From 1896 to 1905, she is identified in the Tulane Jambalaya as a Special Art student/Pottery worker.

Esther Huger Elliot died November 1957 in Beaufort, South Carolina. She was 85 years old.

Carmen Freret Favrot

November 29, 1892 - 1979

Carmen Freret Favrot was born in New Orleans on November 29, 1892. She enrolled as a freshman at Newcomb College in 1910, receiving her Diploma in Art in 1913, and continuing as a Graduate student in the 1914–15, and 1917–18 academic sessions. After completed her graduate education, Favrot became a jeweler at Newcomb. She worked at the college as a craftsman until 1929.

Favrot was an accomplished jeweler and silversmith. She often exhibited her work, including at a show at the Junior League in New York.

Favrot died in 1979.

Juanita Gonzales

Juanita Gonzales

1903 - July 8, 1935

Juanita Gonzales was a native New Orleans artist working in ceramics in the 1920s and 30s. She was a Newcomb Pottery craftsman, pottery instructor, and architect designer, and also served as chair of the Newcomb Pottery program from 1931 to 1935.

Coming to Newcomb College originally on a student scholarship in 1921, Gonzales was soon recognized for her unusual talent and ability. Ellsworth Woodward, Director of the art program, said she was one of the most talented girls he had ever known.

After completing the four-year program in Normal Art, Gonzales received a Bachelor of Design in 1925. She left New Orleans for New York to study with Russian avant-garde sculptor and graphic artist, Alexander Archipenko. While in New York, Gonzales worked also as an independent artist, designing dolls and furniture, while further developing her ceramic style.

Gonzales’s work referenced the avant-garde style of her mentor, and her work stands out when compared to other Newcomb Pottery pieces. Often featuring dripping glaze-work, her pottery used bold colors and abnormal shapes. She was one of the only Newcomb potters to use black glaze, and she used glazing as a decorative motif in-and-of-itself, opposed to painting more literal scenes onto her ceramic vessels, as was typical of other Newcomb works at the time.

While serving as chair of the pottery department, Gonzales pushed the artists into a more modern style. It is in this time period that we see less representational pieces coming out of Newcomb. Pottery, such as the Grand Isle vase by Sadie Irvine, is one such example.

Other than teaching and her work as department chair, Gonzales had her own private art studio in the city where she made her own pottery designs, as well as portrait busts and architectural ornaments. The adornments on both the Louisiana State Medical School in New Orleans and the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, for example, are her works.

Unfortunately, Gonzales became gravely ill in February 1935 and had to resign from her post at Newcomb. Her classmate, Angela Gregory, replaced her at the college.

Juanita Gonzales died July 8, 1935.

Lillian “Lillie” Alvina Guedry

Lillian “Lillie” Alvina Guedry

December 1877 - December 1, 1913

Lillian “Lillie” Alvina Guedry was born in New Orleans in December 1877 and she attended Newcomb College as a Special Art student between 1889 and 1902 and as a graduate student from 1903–05.

While at Newcomb, Guedry served as an editor for the Jambalaya yearbook, was a member of the Tulane Press Club, and was a member of the Saturday Morning Sketch Club directed by William Woodward. In 1904 Guedry worked at Newcomb as a pottery worker. She also specialized in embroidery and textile, and practiced china painting at home.

Lillian A. Guedry Garic died on December 1, 1913.

Cecile Mathilde Heller

June 14, 1890 - November 11, 1920

Cecile Mathilde Heller was born in New Orleans on June 14, 1890. Her father, and immigrant from Bohemia, was the rabbi at New Orleans’ Temple Sinai, and was an avid advocate for social justice reform and for the end of segregation.

Cecile Heller pursued her interest in art and graphic design, and enrolled in the Newcomb Art School in 1907. Heller worked primarily in graphic arts, specifically watercolor and bookplates. In her junior year at Newcomb, she received the Fanny Estelle Holley medal for her watercolor paintings.

Heller married chess champion Edward Lasker not long after completing her degree at Newcomb, but tragically died after only six months of marriage on November 11, 1920. She was 30 years old.

Sally Shepherd Holt

Sally Shepherd Holt

June 15, 1873 - August 20, 1965

Sally Shepherd Holt was born June 15, 1873, and began studying art at Newcomb College in 1895. With the exception of the 1913–14 academic session, she served uninterruptedly as an Art Craftsman for the Newcomb Pottery enterprise between 1910 and 1929. A multitalented artist, Holt distinguished herself in a number of mediums that included potter decoration, bookbinding, and stained glass, particularly beaded lampshades. Like her teacher, Mary Given Sheerer, Sally Holt was a notable china painter.

Sally Shepherd Holt died on August 20, 1965 at the age of 92.

Sadie Irvine (Sarah Agnes Estelle Irvine)

Sadie Irvine (Sarah Agnes Estelle Irvine)

July 21, 1885 - September 4, 1970

Born in New Orleans, Sadie grew up at 1218 Valmont Street with her parents and one sibling. In the 1900 census, her father’s occupation was listed as “Letter carrier”, but appeared to retire by 1930. Sadie’s occupation from 1910 – 1930 was always listed as “Artist – College.” She began her studies, entering college as a Newcomb College freshman in 1902, graduated in 1906 and continued with her graduate studies immediately after, graduating in 1908. She is numbered among the Pottery’s Art Craftsman from 1908-1929 when she became a paid employee of the College until her retirement in 1952. After her retirement, she taught ceramics at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1967. During her career, she won numerous awards and received travel and study scholarships, including being exhibited in international expositions. She is buried in the New Orleans Masonic Cemetery along with her parents.

Emilie de Hoa LeBlanc

Emilie de Hoa LeBlanc

June 17, 1870 - November 24, 1941

Among the first members of the pottery decoration class, Emilie LeBlanc was awarded a Diploma in Normal Art in 1897. Miss LeBlanc continued in the Art program enrolled as a graduate art student from 1897-1899. The Tulane catalogue and Jambalaya listed her as a post-graduate from 1900-1902 and a pottery worker from 1901-1905. The Board of Administrators of Tulane University retroactively awarded a Bachelor of Design to her on June 8, 1921. Her younger sister, Marie de Hoa LeBlanc was also a Newcomb artisan. After both of her parents’ deaths in the 1910’s, the sisters, Emilie and Marie continued to live at the home. In the 1920 census, Emilie’s occupation is listed as “Artist, high school”. By 1930, the sisters were living on the 3200 block of Coliseum Street and her occupation was listed as “Art instructor, Public School”. By 1940, the sisters lived at 4225 Pitt Street and she was still regarded as a teacher. Emilie and Marie were constant companions and never married. They traveled in their summers, always with an introduction from the Archbishop of New Orleans.

Mary Given Sheerer

Mary Given Sheerer

January 1865 - 1954

Born in Covington, Kentucky, Mary’s family moved to New Orleans between 1865-1870. Her father, a “Wholesale Grocer” originally listed as a wealthy man, later had to surrender his goods at an auction to pay his creditors. The succession of his estate opened on January 16, 1883, and Mrs. Sheerer and her daughters moved back to Covington in 1886. Between 1886 and 1894, Mary attended the Cincinnati School of Design and at the Art Students’ League of New York City. In 1894, she moved back to New Orleans and began teaching at Newcomb. Never a homeowner, Mary lived close to campus in other people’s homes, campus housing, or sharing a residence with two other faculty members, later creating a “co-operative house” lifestyle in many different locations until her retirement in 1931. In 1932 she moved to Cincinnati and lived with her younger sister, Nan at 2116 Auburn Avenue, No. 1. They were listed at that address until Nan, also a retired teacher, died in 1942. Mary’s later address is unknown, but assumed to be in the Cincinnati area. She died at age 89 in 1954.

Anna Frances Connor Simpson

Anna Frances Connor Simpson

August 14, 1880 - June 26, 1930

Born in New Orleans, Anna Frances “Fanny” lived at 1547 Camp Street with her parents, four other children and her uncle until the early 1900s. According to the 1910 census, the family then resided with 1526 Washington Avenue with more family members. The 1915-1918 New Orleans City Directory listed only her mother and herself living at 1424 Amelia Street and her occupation was listed as “Decorator.” The 1920 and 1930 censuses list her mother (now widowed) and herself as the only occupants of 6314 Freret Street and her occupation was listed as “Pottery Decorator, College.”

Fanny received a Diploma in Art in 1906 from the Newcomb College and continued on as a graduate student, graduating in 1908. Immediately after, she joined the Pottery enterprise from 1908-1923 and 1924-1929, dying a year later in 1930.

Joseph Fortune Meyer

Joseph Fortune Meyer


Joseph Meyer was a professional potter in charge of throwing the pieces for a thirty-year period from 1896-1927. His mark is found on more pottery than any other artisan in the group. Between 1896 to 1904, Meyer’s eyesight began to fail, so assistants or the professional ceramists helped him. He is noted as helping the Woodwards at the New Orleans Art Pottery and helped to build the kilns when Newcomb set up its pottery. He was a much-admired figure on the campus and the community during his time at Newcomb. ­­

Paul Ernest Cox


Paul Cox is known as the first professionally trained ceramist employed by Newcomb College. He perfected the matte glaze used after 1910 and altered the techniques, designed and built kilns and “modernized the plant.” In 1918 when the new Art School building was erected, he designed the kilns and equipment. After he left Newcomb in 1918, he traveled and worked at various businesses, including Pittsburgh and later accepting a teaching position at Iowa State College where he was in charge of the Department of Ceramic Engineering. He worked there for over two decades, returning to New Orleans in 1939 and setting up a pottery business in Harahan, but it was short lived. He later retired to Baton Rouge, and died in 1968.