You may not know Hilda Belcher. Like many women artists of the early 20th century, she has not received the recognition she deserves. She was not a modernist groundbreaker like Georgia O’Keeffe, who shared a boardinghouse with Belcher and once sat for her. But an exhibition of mostly watercolors at Martha Richardson Fine Art reveals her to be a portraitist of exquisite sensitivity, as well as a cheeky, if kindhearted, satirist.
Belcher, born in Vermont in 1881, moved to New York as a young woman and studied with George Bellows and Robert Henri. Henri, the legendary art teacher, founded the realist Ashcan School and urged his students to relish and capture the details of ordinary life. Belcher won prizes, and her work was collected.