Date: American etcher, painter, writer, and lecturer, 1883–1979
Biography: Elizabeth O’Neill Verner was a loyal native of Charleston, South Carolina. Her artistic talents were nurtured by her maternal grandfather, Henry Franklin Baker, at an early age and by lessons by local artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. At 17 years old, Elizabeth O’Neill moved in with relatives living in Philadelphia in order to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After two years she returned to South Carolina to teach in Aiken before she married Pettigrew Verner. It was not until her husband died suddenly in an accident and she found herself widowed with two small children that she dedicated herself fully as a professional artist, specializing in etchings and pastel drawings of historic Charleston. Soon after, Verner became major player during the flowering of literary artistic and visual activity during the 1920s and 1930s known as the Charleston Renaissance. Having been taught the etching process by Alice Smith, Verner was among the founding members of the Charleston Etchers Club. Her etchings illustrated the Charleston edition of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy in 1928. Verner’s studio remained a tourist attraction even after her death, which is a testament to the capacity of her images to evoke the most revered qualities of this southern city.