An accomplished artist at a young age, Honolulu-born Felicie Waldo Howell spent much of her childhood in Athens, Greece, sketching and painting. Although the exact chronology of her early career is uncertain, Howell enrolled at Washington’s Corcoran School of Art, and had already begun winning awards for her painting before she reached the age of twenty. By 1916, the artist had already won a prize at the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors annual exhibition, and received a scholarship to study in London with Henry B. Snell, who taught at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. Though just beyond her student years, Howell received the National Academy of Design’s prestigious Hallgarten Prize in 1921, as well as the Peabody Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago that same year.
New York in Winter was painted at perhaps the height of Howell’s fame, and ascends beyond the realm of cityscape as a result of its moonlit wintertime setting. Not only does the picture’s nocturnal backdrop give rise to a more ambitious and technically difficult composition, it also establishes a more contemplative mood. The soft focus, as if seeing the street through a veil of snow, imparts the scene with an aura of calm and quietude.
Howell was well regarded in her day, and she received solo exhibitions at leading museums and galleries. These included Boston’s Doll & Richards and Vose Galleries; the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, and the Macbeth and Grand Central galleries (New York); and the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (Ohio), among others.