Elizabeth Honor Dolan was a successful artist responsible for a number of paintings in Lincoln, Nebraska, including the original frescoes in Morrill Hall, University of Nebraska Lincoln campus, and Nebraska State Capitol building.
Dolan moved to Tecumseh, Nebraska, then later to Lincoln, with her parents as a child. Entered the University of Nebraska in 1899, studying in the School of Fine Arts under Sarah Hayden, another famous Nebraska artist. Dolan also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1912-1914. In 1914, she enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City.
Dolan remained in New York for about eight years, exhibiting in galleries and supporting herself through paintings (including children portraits) and designing stained glass windows for Louis Tiffany.
Dolan moved to France in 1924 and received a $500 scholarship to the American School of Art at Fontainebleau. She studied under Francis Garguit, a master of fresco painting. Dolan was one of three students in a class of 25 to receive a diploma for fresco painting. She also painted two frescoes at the school.
On a return trip to Nebraska from France in 1926, Dolan learned of plans for NU's new natural history museum, which was to be named after C.H. Morrill, a former regent. She received a commission through E.H. Barbour, director of the museum at the time. In a March 4, 1927 letter from Barbour, Dolan was called a "decorator," earning a salary of $100 per week for the commission. The work - which included the east and west walls of Elephant Hall, measuring 17 feet high, 70 feet wide; the north and south walls of Elephant Hall (the south painting is now covered by a new mural); first and second floor wall cases; and backgrounds in the Hall of Nebraska Wildlife - took 15 months to complete. The work drew attention to Dolan, including a favorable review in the American Magazine of Art. She was 56 years old when she received the commission, and said that, "Dr. Barbour gave me my first big chance."
Dolan completed other murals in the Lincoln area, including portraits of Morrill, his wife, Harriot Currier Morrill, Barbour and Samuel Avery, a former NU chancellor. The murals are in Founders Hall within Morrill Hall. The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery collection also has three Dolan paintings, and the mural "World Peace" is in the women's lounge in the Nebraska Union.
Dolan also completed murals in other Lincoln buildings, including: the State Capitol Law Library ("Spirit of the Prairie"); the Miller & Paine Department Store (10 murals total); the Unitarian Church (then at 12th and H streets); the University Club; Bennett Martin Public Library; the Masonic Temple; YWCA; and Bancroft School.
For the rest of her life, Dolan supported herself through art. She lived modestly, renting a small studio above the Oliver Theater near 13th and O streets. She died in 1948 at the age of 77.
From the February 7, 2008 issue of The Scarlet (UNL Office of University Communications); Sharon Kennedy's "Nebraska Women Artists" article in the Nebraska History magazine (Vol. 88, No. 3, Fall 2007); and the University of Nebraska State Museum archives.
Sponsored by Ancestry