Alice Cordelia Morse

Painting of a woman facing forward in a strong stance holding open a large book, with the words "Occupations of Women and Their Compensation" in bold black letters above her head.

Drawing, Design for Title Page, "Occupations of Women and Their Compensation"; Designed by Alice Cordelia Morse (American, 1863–1961); USA; brush and gouache on greyish-brown paper, mounted on illustration board; Image: 25.6 × 17.5 cm (10 1/16 × 6 7/8 in.) Sheet: 30.7 × 22.6 cm (12 1/16 × 8 7/8 in.); Gift of Alice C. Morse; 2009-6-55


Black and white portrait of a woman with her hair in a bun, wearing a dark gray dress and looking directly at the viewer.

Alice Cordelia Morse (American, 1863-1961) was a prominent American artist of the Arts and Crafts movement who specialized in book-cover design. In 1879, Morse enrolled at the Women’s Art School of the Cooper Union, one of the few educational institutions of the period that accepted female students. Early in her career she worked as a glass painter for the firm of Louis C. Tiffany, before returning to the Cooper Union for postgraduate training in art and design. She began designing book covers in the late 1880s, and quickly became one of the most sought-after artists in the field. Her award-winning cover designs were purchased by renowned publishers, such as Charles Scribner’s Sons and G. P. Putnam’s Sons. When she retired, Morse gave a collection of her finished book covers to the Metropolitan Museum, and her designs for those covers (and some stained glass) to the Cooper Union Museum. Today, these graceful drawings are a highlight of Cooper Hewitt’s collection.


Image features an unpublished title page design for the book, Occupations of Women and Their Compensation. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Priestess of Book Design
The career of Alice Cordelia Morse reflects the changing role of women in art and society in the late 19th century. Morse was able to achieve success in many artistic fields, designing book covers, illustrations, and stained glass, while also experimenting with other decorative media such as china painting and needlework. Although this title-page design was...
On brown ground, design in green and yellow with black boxes of yellow text: MY / STUDY . FIRE / BY / HAMILTON . W . MABIE.
The Book-Cover Designs of Alice C. Morse
This sketch for a book cover by Alice Cordelia Morse (1863-1961) is a far cry from what book covers look like today. With its organic forms and handmade attributes, My Study Fire is an example of the late 19th-century characteristic Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau style in America. Alice Morse studied drawing at the Woman’s Art...