Back in the 1890s when professional women artists were few and far between, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s new show highlights how the Way sisters of New London were creating art that was quite unique for its time.
Mary Way (1769–1833) and Elizabeth “Betsy” (Way) Champlain (1771–1825) were among the earliest professional women artists in the United States. Living far from art centers or schools, the two were entirely self-taught. According to “The Magazine Antiques” Elizabeth never signed her works and only one signed piece by Mary is known so while their art was known regionally, it was attributed to unknown artists. Their story and legacy in the art world was largely forgotten until 1992. A scholar researching their work published an article in the magazine that fall and it was the first time the Way name was associated with their artwork in over a century.