Filed Under Art and Design

Emma Mendenhall: Oft Forgotten Artist from East Walnut Hills

Emma Mendenhall was an artist well-known in her time for her watercolor landscape and genre works. She was a member of a prolific art scene in Cincinnati, associating with the likes of Dixie Selden and Frank Duveneck.

Emma Mendenhall was born on March 15, 1873, the daughter of Charles and Fannie Mendenhall, and the niece of philanthropist Emma Mendenhall Anderson. Emma’s artistic training was extensive. She studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 1890 to 1914 under renowned local painter Frank Duveneck. Mendenhall continued to study with Jules Lefebvre at the Julian Academy in Paris and William Merritt Chase in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island.

While at the Art Academy, Mendenhall was surrounded by prominent artists and met her life-long companion, Dixie Selden. The two lived together in a home at 2629 Moorman Ave in East Walnut Hills. During the summers, Mendenhall and Selden would travel to Mexico, Normandy, Brittany, Spain, Hawaii, Japan, and Morocco. They would paint the same landscapes, side-by-side, in their distinct styles. The landscapes from these trips were shown in multiple exhibitions across Europe and showcased at local galleries and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Cincinnatians loved her work for their ability to transport them to foreign places and evoke pride in local scenes. Mendenhall was well known in her time for her work in watercolor and oil pastels, focusing on American landscapes, portraits, and still lives.

Mendenhall was dedicated to expanding the arts. She spent much of her time teaching and was listed as a private art teacher on the 1950 Census. Emma was also a member of the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati, where she served as President from 1907 to 1909, and later from 1921 to 1923. She was secretary of the local chapter of the MacDowell Society, and a member of other professional societies, including the American Watercolor Society, the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, and the Washington Watercolor Society.

Mendenhall’s work is no longer widely exhibited, but not for a lack of quality or skill. She is in many ways a victim of her own fortune, often overshadowed by her more famous friends and mentors. Emma Mendenall died in 1964 at her apartment at 2359 Hackberry Street when she was 91 years old.


2629 Moorman Ave in East Walnut Hills


Haile Steinbach, Brenden Pulte
, “Emma Mendenhall: Oft Forgotten Artist from East Walnut Hills,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed June 15, 2024,