Ten Things to Know
about Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Whitney was the great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famed American railroad and shipping magnate.
She married into the equally prestigious Whitney family, who were major figures in the Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry.
Whitney studied at the Arts Student League in New York alongside other notable women artists including Anna Vaughn Hyatt and Malvina Hoffman.
Early in her career, she worked under an assumed name fearing that she would not be taken seriously due to both her gender and her social status.
Neither her family nor her husband were supportive of her desire to become an artist.
Whitney's first public commission, Aspiration, was displayed outside the New York State Building at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901.
She utilized her great wealth and social standing to support the advancement of women in the arts.
In 1931, she founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
She was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the French Legion of Honor in 1926.
Her Greenwich Village studio was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, giving it landmark status.
Art is an ascending or descending scale, the spirit of its joy reaches us in unexpected ways. It travels on slender threads but it is within the grasp of all who care enough to want to see and understand.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney