University Archives Places Cromwell Collection on Display

A photo of Joane Cromwell painting along the California coast, with her dog Caesar, circa 1940.

University Archives and Special Collections will be featuring the exhibit From the Prairie to the Coast: The Life and Work of Artist Joane Cromwell from now until August 15, 2013. Cromwell was born Catherine Strode on November 22, 1895 in Bernadotte, Illinois, the daughter of Dr. William S and Julia Brown Strode of Lewistown. After graduating from the Chicago Art Institute she moved to Laguna Beach, California, where she painted under the pseudonym Joane Cromwell until her death in 1969.

Cromwell is known primarily as a landscape painter and is especially noted for her seascapes of the California coast. She was an early member of the Laguna Beach Art Association and a founder and "lifetime exhibitor" at the famed Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts.

The exhibit features items from the Joane Cromwell Collection, including photographs, scrapbooks, and letters related to her life and work. In addition, Western Illinois Museum has graciously loaned two portraits to the Archives for this exhibit. The portraits are of Joane and her son, Leslie Cromwell Blakley, and both were painted in California in the early 1920s by portrait artist and illustrator, Loren Holmwood.

The exhibit was prepared by Graduate Assistant Lindsay Hiltunen and Library Specialist Ann Patridge. It can be viewed in the University Archives and Special Collections department on the 6th floor of the Leslie F. Malpass Library between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Any questions regarding the collection can be directed to Ann Patridge at (309) 298-2717 or via e-mail at