Georgina Davis

Georgina Davis (ca.1852-1901) studied  Art at the Cooper Union, graduating in 1880.  She was a prominent nineteenth century illustrator, painter and etcher.

Georgina Davis worked actively as a commercial artist for over thirty years, at a time when few women were able to pursue independent careers in the arts. She remained single and was one of the first women in the American middle class to be self supporting.  She worked as a journalist/illustrator covering women’s events for Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper. (Single women required male chaperones to attend events other than women’s events at this time.)

Her illustrations appeared in the Salvation Army newspaper, children’s books published by the McLoughlin Brothers, and in the major nineteenth century weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, where she worked as a staff artist.

In her first ten years of employment at the paper she produced over 100 engravings, often reporting on the work of charitable women as union organizers and visitors of the infirmed and imprisoned. Her illustrations also appeared in art publications such as Aldine and the Women’s Pavilion of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Barbara J. Balliet, Professor of gender studies at Rutgers University, writes:

Davis’s signature appeared over one hundred times in her first decade at Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1880-1890), making hers a familiar name to readers. As a staff artist at a major nineteenth-century illustrated weekly, Davis’s career was not at all typical for women working in commercial art. Although many other women artists contributed to the illustrated press as free-lancers, Davis’s longevity and permanent staff position more closely resembled male artists’ careers. By the time Frank Leslie’s accepted her first illustration in 1880, Davis was already an established painter and engraver. Her first critically noticed illustration, “The Bridge of Sighs,” appeared in 1872 in the art journal the Aldine and later found a place in the Women’s Pavilion at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition (“Let Them Study as Men and Work as Women,” Balliet 2007)

Several examples of Georgina Davis’ work are included in Barbara J. Balliet’s article, Let Them Study as Men and Work as Women.


Georgina Davis is recognized for her contribution to the advancement of women in the arts by The Cooper Union Dean of Art in 2009.   CU School of Art Dean, Saskia Bos, chose Georgia Davis for inclusion in The Cooper Union Hall of Fame in 2009.


Balliet, Barbara,  Let Them Study as Men and Work as Women, Common Plade Coffee Shop, 2007.  Link

Georgina Giorgiana Davis, Ask Art Link