Born in 1936, Elizabeth Osborne has been living and working in Philadelphia ever since. Osborne is best known for her works in watercolor and oil; even when working in oil, her paintings have an airy, ethereal quality. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Osborne went on to teach at the Academy for nearly fifty years, and was for a time the school’s sole female faculty member. Toeing the line between abstraction and figuration, Osborne’s works—both landscapes and portraits—produce an eerie, almost otherworldly feeling.
Osborne’s colorful landscapes have historically performed particularly well at Freeman’s, underscoring market demand for Philadelphia-based artists and works by women. Her Emerald Sea achieved a remarkable $31,250 in 2008 following a pre-sale high estimate of $2,500; a similar, yet more watercolor-like landscape, Southwind, sold for $22,500 in 2011, nearly four times its pre-sale high estimate. Also in 2011, Osborne’s Chama Valley exceeded its estimates to achieve $20,000.
Though Osborne’s influence extends beyond the Philadelphia region, the pull of her lifelong prolific practice is most immediately felt here. Osborne’s work is included in the collections of major area institutions, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Delaware Art Museum to PAFA and the Woodmere Art Museum. She is represented by Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery and continues to explore questions of light, form, and abstraction through her work.