Ethel Louise Coe (1878-1938) graduated with honors from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1901. At the invitation of Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida she studied in Madrid from 1911 to 1913. While summering in Taos, New Mexico, from 1915 to 1918, she became an important member of the Taos art colony. From 1923 to 1931, Miss Coe headed the Northwestern University art department. In 1931, she became director of the art department at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she remained until her death in 1938. She returned to Evanston in the summers of those years to conduct sketching classes for Evanston women and to teach at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was known for her ability to interpret art for the layman. Ethel Coe exhibited her paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago annually between 1903 and 1923. Her works also appeared at the Evanston Art Center and the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in galleries in Chicago and New York City. Coe’s landscapes and cityscapes in light-saturated colors and with minimal detail are typical of American Impressionism. During extended stays in Morocco, Miss Coe executed the two paintings on exhibit.
Ethel Coe was fundamental in bringing an understanding and appreciation of art to both women and the layman. Her academic positions demonstrate her role as not only an artist, but a leader in helping others to develop their skills and knowledge of art. She traveled extensively internationally and was a significant artist in both the Chicagoland area and around the nation and world, having exhibited her works in world-class institutions.