1910? - 1996?
Mother and Child, acrylic on board
The following biographical information was provided by Virginia's family, please see below for some observations by the curator of the Davistown Annual Art Exhibition on Goolkasian's relationship with women artists working in Boston, recently the subject of an excellent show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Virginia Goolkasian was the daughter of Kaehdor Goolkasian, an Armenian born sculptor and painter who came to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1908.
Miss Goolkasian received her training at the Boston Museum School (Boston Museum of Fine Arts,) which thought so highly of her that it granted her a full scholarship, and also sent her to Italy to spend one year traveling and studying.
She later went to Washington, D.C. Having been greatly influenced by the works of the old masters, she began painting oil portraits. She created portraits of diplomatic personages and eventually was swallowed up by the Pentagon, where she executed portraits of the high Army brass. These portraits included Vice President Alben Barcley, Secretary of War, Robert Patterson, and a number of Ambassadors, their wives and other members of the diplomatic circles.
At that time, she was also hired by the Pentagon to draft military equipment and weapons. The late Alexande Iacovloff, whom John Singer Sargent proclaimed "the world's leading draftsman in art form," was one of Miss Goolkasian's teachers at the Boston Museum School. Professor Iacovloff gave her the unique accolade, "the only pupil in my experience, to grasp every detail of my teaching."
It was under his influence and encouragement that she toured the museums of Europe, after her studies in Boston, and prior to opening her Washington, D.C. studio.
After World War II, she spent several years in Chicago painting portraits of many prominent people. She exhibited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C., and many other famous museums. She was frequently awarded with the highest of honors and the first prize for her works.
Eventually, she returned to the Boston area where she had spent her childhood. Many of her portraits remain in the Boston vicinity. At Emerson College, her portrait of its former President, Dr. Elliott Joslin and his daughter, hangs above the entrance to the Joslin Diabetes Clinic. At the old South Church is the portrait of its former minister, Dr. Russell Stafford.
The curator of the Davistown Museum considers the work of Virginia Goolkasian to be the equal of any of the artists recently on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibition "Women Artists in Boston 1870 - 1940". The MFA exhibition catalog, which provides both biographical information and illustrations of these artist's work, is on display with Goolkasian's paintings and drawings at the Davistown Museum exhibition of her work. It's unfortunate that Virginia Goolkasian was not included in this show. Many of her drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings are of sufficient quality to have been included. Some of Virginia's strongest work currently on display at the Davistown Museum include her figure drawings, portraits of orthodox Armenian church officials, her wonderful watercolor of a street scene in Nantucket, and her oils on canvas including a mother and child a la Mary Cassat.