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Esther Baldwin Williams and Esther Williams papers, 1887-1984

Biographical Note

Esther Baldwin Williams (1867-1964) and her daughter Esther Williams (1907-1969) were painters active in Boston, Paris, and New York City.
Esther Baldwin Williams was born Esther Mabel Baldwin on December 11, 1867 to a prominent Boston family of artists. She began her art education under her uncle Joseph Foxcroft Cole and worked with her cousin Adelaide Chase Cole. Adelaide and Esther shared a studio in Greenwich Village in 1888. The two cousins also traveled to Paris in 1877 and 1891 to paint. Esther Baldwin concentrated on portraiture and often painted the women in her social circle.
Esther Baldwin became engaged to Oliver Williams in 1898. They married and moved to 96 Beacon Street in Boston where they raised their children, Oliver, Thomas, and Esther. Around 1900, the Williams met Maurice and Charles Prendergast. Esther became a friend and patron of Maurice and the two shared a studio for some time and exchanged letters. Esther Baldwin continued to work in portraiture, focusing her work on her children and relatives and did not pursue a professional career. In addition to painting, Esther Baldwin and Oliver Williams inspired a passion for music in their children.
Born in 1907, Esther Williams inherited her mother's interest in the arts. Unlike her mother, she desired a professional career as a painter. She first studied at the Museum of Fine Arts School, Boston in 1925 and later went to Paris to study under Andre Lhote. Upon returning to the United States, she moved to New York City and enrolled with the Art Students League. She married Roland Joseph McKinney, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum.
Esther Williams is known for her portraits, paintings of flowers, circus and orchestra scenes, and for her impressionistic style. She was represented by Grace Horne Gallery in the 1930s and switched to Kraushaar Galleries in 1940.
Esther Baldwin Williams died in 1964. Her daughter, Esther Williams died shortly thereafter in 1969.