The twin Cowles sisters trained together as visual artists and worked on the same projects, whether magazine illustration, mural painting, or stain glass window design. They were both early members of the Art Workers’ Club for Women, an organization of female artists and female artists’ models. Founded in 1898 by Helen Sargent (later Mrs. Ripley Hitchcock), the Club boasted more than 150 members in the first few years.
The Art Workers’ clubhouse was in a brownstone at 224 West 58th Street, around the corner from The Art Students’ League. Along with meeting rooms, there was a restaurant and boarding house where young women could stay temporarily. Later, the Club established a booking agency for the professional models and offered a collection of costumes that could borrow for work.
As members, the Cowles sisters were allowed to hire models with no booking fee. A small number of male artists paid a fee of $2 per year to be honorary members, so that they could have access to a trained pool of professional models. To read more, see David Slater, “The Fount of Inspiration: Minnie Clark, the Art Workers’ Club for Women, and Performances of American Girlhood,” Winterthur Portfolio 39, No. 4 (Winter 2004), pp. 229-258.
The Cowles sisters were also responsible for the beautiful windows in Grace Church’s Honor Room at 802 Broadway, New York City. Here are a few images: