Anne Wilson Goldthwaite was born in Alabama in 1869 and though she traveled extensively, she always considered the South to be her true home. Her parents passed away when she was very young and she was raised by various well-to-do family members. After officially coming out in Southern society at the age of eighteen, it soon became clear that marriage was not in Goldthwaite’s immediate future. At the age of twenty-three, her family sent her to New York City to study art at the National Academy of Design. In 1906, she continued her education in Paris where she associated with some of the great modern artists of the time. Through her friendship with American expatriate and great patron of modern art, Gertrude Stein, she became acquainted with such notable artists as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. While in Paris, she joined a group of young artists who exhibited together each spring and founded the Académie Moderne. The onset of the Great War forced Goldthwaite to return to the United States in 1913 where she participated in the famed Armory Show in New York.
Though she associated with many abstract artists, Goldthwaite remained more expressive in her art. That is, she painted her subjects with loose, artistic brushstrokes to convey emotion, but her subjects remained recognizable and not completely abstracted. After returning to New York, she painted many portraits of her close friends and taught at the Art Students League for twenty-three years. She taught her students to portray their subjects respectfully and she worked as an advocate for both womens’ and minorities’ rights. Goldthwaite also served as the president of the New York Society of Women Artists from 1937-1938.
Despite her active participation in the New York art scene, Goldthwaite returned home to Alabama every summer. It was here that she painted her best known works depicting genre scenes of the South. Her paintings of African American field workers and of the lush vegetation of the Deep South gained her national acclaim. Edith Halpert, owner of the Downtown Gallery in New York, gave Goldthwaite several one-woman shows between 1929 and 1934. Goldthwaite died in 1944 at the age of seventy-five.