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Betty Lane was born in 1907 in Washington D.C., the daughter of a Marine Corps General. To study art in Paris was Betty’s greatest dream. With finance from a wealthy uncle and her sister as a chaperone, she was off to France in the fall of 1928. In Paris, she studied with André L’Hote.

She returned to the U.S. after two years and the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington became Betty’s haven and inspiration. Phillips, the millionaire art patron, gave her a show in April of 1930. A newspaper headline announced “Betty Lane Finds Fame at 23.”

Soon after, Matisse took notice of one of her paintings at the Phillips. A museum staffer reported “... Matisse discovered Miss Lane’s picture and demand to know who did it? And when I described her to him he grunted many “Oui, Oui’s” and told us it pleased him very much: “Cela me plait beaucoup.”

Despite all this, Betty was not sure what to do with her life. In 1931, she married filmmaker Gerald Noxon and lived in England amid glittering intellectual company – surrealists, members of the Paris art world, and the pioneering documentary film movement.

When World War II began, Betty, her husband and son evacuated to Canada. They had little money. Betty cared for her son and worked when she could. It was in Canada that she felt that she had hit her stride as a painter. While still in her twenties, she had decided to brave convention to pursue a life in art. She wrote “I knew I was still ignorant and not a good painter, but I was my own painter, and I would have to find out – not be told.” She would know many artists but rarely paint like them.

In 1950, after moving to the US, Betty became a teacher. After fourteen years in the classroom – all but one at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut – she took early retirement on Cape Cod, where she continued to paint, happily and incessantly, until her death in 1996. Her style and subject matter evolved remarkably over the years but her determination to go her own way never changed.

Today, Betty’s work is in permanent collection at the Philllips Memorial Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Cape Museum of Art. - Nick Noxon Son of Betty Lane

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