Aunspaugh, Vivian Louise (1869–1960)

By: Diana Church

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: August 2, 2017

Vivian Louise Aunspaugh, painter and art teacher, the daughter of John Henry and Virginia Fields (Yancy) Aunspaugh, was born on August 14, 1869, in Bedford City, Virginia. Her father was a cotton buyer. The family moved from Virginia to Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia during Vivian's childhood. In Rome, Georgia, she graduated from Shorter College and was awarded the Excelsior Art Medal. In 1885 she taught at the Woman's College of Union Springs, Alabama. Between 1886 and 1890 she studied with John Henry Twachtman in New York and with Cecil Payne and Alphonse Mucha in Paris. She painted landscapes, flowers, figures, portraits, and miniatures. She specialized in watercolors and pastels.

In 1890 she returned from Europe. For the next two years she taught art at McKinney College in McKinney, Texas, then served for a year as art supervisor for the Greenville Public Schools. From 1893 to 1894 she taught at the Masonic Female College in Bonham. Miss Aunspaugh was head of the art department at Patton Female Seminary, Dallas, from 1894 to 1896 and an instructor in decorative arts at St. Mary's College from 1896 to 1900. She exhibited at the Expo Universelle, Paris, France, in 1900 and received a gold medal.

In 1898 she and sculptress Clyde Chandler established joint studio classes in Dallas. Their studio, designed as a four-year preparatory course for college or public school teaching, became the Aunspaugh Art School in 1902. It was the first art school in the Southwest to offer classes in fine and commercial art, including the use of live models, nude and draped. Clyde Chandler left for Chicago in 1903, but Vivian Aunspaugh continued teaching for the next fifty-seven years. In addition to providing art instruction to the young ladies of Dallas, she was active in the Dallas Woman's Forum and responsible for its annual exhibition of Texas artists between 1912 and 1932. Through these efforts she introduced Texas artists to Dallas collectors, thereby establishing a foundation for the widespread acceptance of local artists in the 1930s.

For many years Vivian Aunspaugh was director of the Gamma Omicron Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, the young businesswomen's sorority. She was a member of the Episcopalian Church of the Incarnation. She died in Dallas on March 9, 1960.

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Diana Church, Guide to Dallas Artists, 1890–1917 (Plano, Texas, 1987). Frances Battaile Fisk, A History of Texas Artists and Sculptors (Abilene, Texas, 1928; facsimile rpt., Austin: Morrison, 1986). Chris Petteys, Dictionary of Women Artists (Boston: Hall, 1985).

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Art and Architecture
  • Visual Arts
  • Painting
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana Church, “Aunspaugh, Vivian Louise,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

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November 1, 1994
August 2, 2017

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