Florence McClung, painter, printmaker, and art teacher, daughter of Charles W. and Minerva (McCoy) White, was born at St. Louis, Missouri, on July 12, 1894. She moved to Dallas in 1899 and lived there until her death. She graduated in 1912 from Bryan High School in Dallas. Her early educational direction centered around being a pianist, but in the early 1920s she began to study art in the Dallas studios of Texas artists C. F. (Frank) Reaugh, Frank E. Klepper, Olin H. Travis, Alexandre Hogue, and Thomas M. Stell. She painted for periods in Taos, New Mexico, circa 1928–32, joining a circle that included Hogue, Mabel Dodge, and Tony Luhan. Her art studies continued during this period in New York with Texas artist Martha Simkins and at Cincinnati Art Institute with Charles McCann. In 1939 McClung received a B.A. in art and English and a B.S. in education from Southern Methodist University; graduate work followed in 1940–41 at Texas State College for Women, Denton; in Taos for field studies; and at Colorado School of Fine Arts, Colorado Springs, with painter and printmaker Adolph Dehn. Around 1929–31 she was hired by Trinity University, Waxahachie (now in San Antonio), to form and head an art department, a position she held (full-time and part-time) until 1943.
By 1939 McClung had become an established artist: one of her paintings (Lancaster Valley, 1936) had been purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York-the first and only Texas artist to be so honored up to that time; she had been head of a university art department for some ten years; and she had accomplished notable work in painting and printmaking, exhibiting widely and winning awards. During an active career as a regional Texas woman artist, circa 1922–52, a difficult period of discriminatory attitudes and practices toward women artists in Texas, she succeeded in having one-person exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico (ca. 1930s); the Sartor Galleries, Dallas (six times, ca. 1930s); Dallas Museum of Art (1941, 1945); Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin; Texas Tech University, Lubbock; Trinity University, Waxahachie (four times); and McMurry College, Abilene. During this period she was exhibiting nationally and in Texas at prestigious juried shows such as the Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas Museum of Art (1936); New York World's Fair (1939); Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; and National Association of Women Artists, New York. During the mid-1940s she was awarded the Stewart Prize for Landscape for her oil Angus Mine. In 1936, during the Work Projects Administration period, she painted a mural, Ute Indian History in Chicago Creek and Idaho Springs, at Lookout Camp for Boys, Idaho Springs, Colorado. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s she exhibited on the circuits of Southern States Art League and Texas Fine Arts Association; she served as director of TFAA in 1945 and of SSAL in 1946 and 1947. In the 1940s and 1950s she was an active member of Printmakers Guild, Dallas (renamed Texas Printmakers in 1952), a small group of Texas women artists and art educators who exhibited and sold their prints nationally (1940–65). This unique women's print guild was organized in reaction to the exclusion of women from Lone Star Printmakers, Dallas, a short-lived group (1938–42) directed by Hogue and Jerry Bywaters, both of whom were then nationally acclaimed Texas artists, as well as writers and spokesmen, for the Texas Regionalist movement of the Depression era. McClung's print, Home Front, was among the 100 prints selected by the Metropolitan Museum for a fifty-gallery exhibition (nationally), America in the War, August 1943; another print, My Son, My Son, was chosen from a Library of Congress exhibition for the cover of a Red Cross magazine, 1944. Her oil paintings and prints are represented in the permanent collections of museums across America, including the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon; the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina; the High Museum, Atlanta; and the Delgado Museum, New Orleans.
Florence White married Rufus A. McClung, a Dallas cotton broker, in 1917; they were married for sixty years and had one son, Elliott McClung. Florence McClung was alert and active with gardening into her ninety-seventh year. She died on March 15, 1992, in Dallas, after a short illness.
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Donald E. Everett, ed., Trinity University: A Record of One Hundred Years (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1968). Peter Haskins Falk, ed., Who Was Who in American Art (Madison, Connecticut: Sound View, 1985). Esse Forrester-O'Brien, Art and Artists of Texas (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). Paul Rogers Harris, The Texas Printmakers, 1940–1965 (Dallas: Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, 1990). Yetta Graham Mitchell, The History of Trinity University from 1869–1934 (M.A. thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1936). Rick Stewart, Lone Star Regionalism (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985).
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Fred R. Kline,
“McClung, Florence Elliott White,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 16, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
October 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 30, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: