Sally (Mrs. Milton Avery) Michel

Sally Michel was born in 1902. She studied at the Art Students League and spent summers painting in Gloucester, MA, where she met Milton Avery. Milton followed Sally from Gloucester to New York where they married in 1926. Sally illustrated for many publications and acted as the primary financial supporter for her family until the 1950’s when Milton’s works started selling.

The Avery family spent most summer vacations traveling, which allowed Michel more time to paint. Their vacation spots included much of New England, California, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and even Woodstock. From these places Sally painted many landscapes, seascapes, portraits, animals, and still lives. During these vacations and later when Sally had more time to paint, she and Milton shared studio space and acted as critics and collaborators for one another. Their styles changed and moved together, resulting in the “Avery style.”

Although both the Averys were committed to the same goal of painting familiar surroundings in a modern style, Sally’s art was somewhat different than Milton’s. She never painted for a market but rather painted for herself. Even after Milton’s death in 1965, Sally still saw his art as the art for the public and remained quite mysterious about her own work. Her works can be found in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Housatonic Community College Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut; University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa; Holyoke Museum; the University of Iowa, Grinnell College and in many fine private collections. Sally Michel drew little attention to her art as a masterful oeuvre. Rather, she stuck to her goal of simply capturing the charm and delightfulness of the daily life that surrounded her. Sally Michel died on January 9, 2003.

From “Women’s Art Journal”


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