Unidentified photographer, Ellen Abbey Countey, ca. 1940-45. Courtesy friend of the artist.
Jess Paley, photograph of Ellen and Edward Countey shortly after their marriage (ca. 1946). Courtesy Estate of Jess Paley.
Ellen Abbey Countey, Scattered Journey, 1946. Engraving and soft ground etching, plate: 5 7/8 x 8 7/8 in. (14.9 x 22.5 cm); sheet: 9 1/8 x 13 in. (23.2 x 33 cm). Courtesy Dolan/Maxwell.
Ellen Abbey Countey, Dark Falling, ca. 1946. Engraving, etching, and aquatint. plate: 7 x 8 7/8 in., sheet: 11 x 13 ¼ in. Courtesy Dolan/Maxwell, Philadelphia, PA.

1. Ellen Abbey Countey

Life Dates1923-2017
Place of BirthBrooklyn, NY, USA
Place of DeathLong Island, NY, USA
Birth NameEllen Abbey

Brooklyn-born Ellen Abbey Countey was active in the New York art community before marriage and family. In the early 1940s, she studied at the Art Students League—with George Bridgman, George Grosz, Ossip Zadkine, and Morris Kantor—and had private lessons in direct carving from William Zorach in Maine. Enrolling at the New School, she met both Hayter and her future husband, Edward Countey.1 A member of Atelier 17 from approximately 1944 to 1948, Abbey Countey made about a dozen plates, which are wonderful examples of the technical experimentation characteristic of this period in Atelier 17’s history. The abstract Scattered Journey (1946) features automatist burin work, several areas of high relief, and tonal areas made with aquatint. Unfortunately, she never printed complete editions, like so many artists at Atelier 17, and her prints are quite rare as a result. The Counteys eventually moved to Long Island, where her husband taught for many years at SUNY Stony Brook, first in the Engineering Department and later the Department of Art. Though Abbey Countey’s professional career ended with motherhood, she remained close to Hayter and other Atelier artists. As a widow she visited Hayter and his wife, Désirée, in Paris and renewed her work in printmaking.

Selected Bibliography

Ellen Abbey Countey, written interview with Christina Weyl, December 2015.


  1. Thomasin Countey kindly shared information about her mother’s training with Zorach and her experience at Atelier 17.