Unidentified photographer, Bess Schuyler, ca. 1970s. Courtesy obituary in Wicked Local Provincetown.

84. Bess Schuyler

Life Dates1923-2010
Place of BirthNew York, NY, USA
Place of DeathTruro, MA, USA
Birth NameBess Schuyler

Bess Schuyler was born in 1923 in New York City, the second child of Hannah Shiffman and Daniel Schuyler.1 Her parents were working class: in the 1925 New York census, her father listed his profession as a machinist, and, by 1930 federal census, her mother—now the head of household—worked as a secretary. They resided on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and Schuyler attended the High School of Music & Art.2 According to enrollment records at the New School for Social Research, Schuyler attended Atelier 17 during the fall term of 1944.3 One of her prints, an engraving and aquatint titled Progeny, was exhibited in the Laurel Gallery group exhibition in 1949 and became part of Stanley William Hayter’s collection, though an impression has not yet been found.4 Eventually, Schuyler specialized in ceramics and was the director of the pottery program at the Henry Street Settlement House from 1957 until 1978. She primarily created sculptures of cats and other animals, profiles of building façades in and around New York, and ceramic clocks embellished with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and pastries.5 In addition to her studio at 246 West 16^th^ Street, she was also a longtime resident of Truro, Massachusetts.


  1. Biographical details come from Schuyler’s obituary in Wicked Local, Provincetown, accessed October 18, 2018, as well as census records: 1925 (New York state), New York State Archives, Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 90; Assembly District: 08; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 86; 1930, Manhattan, New York,; Roll: 1553; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0386; Image: 456.0; FHL microfilm: 2341288.
  2. It is possible that Schuyler and Lily Ascher, both born in 1923, were in the same class at the High School of Music & Art.
  3. Schuyler’s name appears on the New School’s grade rosters for Atelier 17. Erika Hichez-Valerio, Assistant University Registrar, The New School, email to author, May 26, 2015.
  4. See p. 7 of an undated, untitled list of Atelier 17 artists and their prints in Helen Phillips papers, Paris.
  5. Suzanne Slesin, “Home Beat: Kitschy Ceramic Clocks,” New York Times, June 2, 1983; Old House Journal 12, no. 1 (February 1984): 32; “Hello Kitty,” New York Magazine 30, no. 14 (April 14, 1997): 127.