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Lula King Saxon

Though remembered for being a talented landscape painter, Lula King Saxon was also a writer, musician, poet, singer, and actress.

Lula King Saxon

Courtesy of Roger H. Ogden Collection

Uptown Street. Saxon, Lulu King (Artist)

Although diminutive of stature, Lulu King Saxon was large when it came to talent.In addition to being a landscape painter and sketch artist, she was a writer, musician, poet, singer, and actress. Born in Louisiana around 1855, she was most active in the art world of New Orleans between 1884 and 1922. Although she was well known by the public during this period, with time her reputation has declined, possibly because so little is known about her. As a painter, Saxon is best known for her work Uptown Street, New Orleans (1890).

Saxon studied with a number of respected mentors, including Andres Molinary (around 1884), Bror Anders Wikstrom, and F. Arthur Callender. With Molinary she took lessons in painting, and with Widstrom and Callender she developed her skills with watercolor. She was an active member of the Artists’ Association of New Orleans beginning in 1897 and exhibited her work with the organization in 1887, 1889 through 1897, 1899, and 1901 through 1902. She also showed paintings at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1892, with the Art Association of New Orleans in 1910 and 1915, and at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition from 1884 through 1885. Sometime before World War I, she traveled to Russia, where she made paintings that she exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans in 1922. The quality of her work was recognized with several awards and honors. In 1888, for example, she was awarded a gold medal from the Artists’ Association of New Orleans.

In her nineteenth-century book Some New Orleans Notables, May Mount provides a personal description of the Saxon:

“The charming, piquant features of the subject of this sketch [Lulu King Saxon] are too well known to the social and intellectual world of New Orleans to need any further introduction, for in that charmed circle she has moved like a firefly, bright, sparkling, fascinating. Possessed of the rare gift of wit which entertains, yet never offends; of strong loyalty and sincerety [sic] of nature, of deep sympathy and broad, yet unassuming charity, it is not wonderful that Mrs. Saxon’s society is much sought after, her friendship valued for its true worth.”

Like the lines of that pretty English ballad, “she is a winsome wee thing” almost childlike in proportions, with short curls clustering over a broad brow, and a pair of great dark eyes as changeable in expression as the face of a mountain tarn: now black and soft in the shadows, now flashing in vivid beauty with rays of light.

Lulu King Saxon was married to Walter Lyle Saxon and was the aunt of the twentieth-century writer and journalist Lyle Saxon. She died in New Orleans on February 21, 1927.