Jean Francksen (third from left) with Interior Design class at Beaver College, 1949. Beaver College, Arcadia University Archives, Glenside, PA.
Art Department Faculty at Beaver College (from left to right): John Hathaway, Elsie McGarvey, Jean Francksen, Jane Clauss, Benton Spruance, ca. 1957. Beaver College, Arcadia University Archives, Glenside, PA.
Jean Francksen, Bouquet, 1946. Etching, plate: 9 x 5 7/8 in. (22.9 x 14.9 cm); sheet: 12 ½ x 9 3/8 in. (31.8 x 23.8 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Purchased with the Thomas Skelton Harrison Fund, 1952 (1952-31-16).

33. Jean Francksen

Life Dates1914-1996
Place of BirthPhiladelphia, PA, USA
Place of DeathGladwyne, PA, USA
Birth NameJean Eda Francksen

A lifetime resident of Philadelphia, Jean Francksen attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she followed a program for art education and, by special arrangement, took supplemental art courses at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now University of the Arts).1 After graduating in 1937 she taught at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, while simultaneously pursuing art education at the Barnes Foundation (1943–44). Printmaking was a major focus from the outset of her career, perhaps due to the influence of Benton Spruance, a colleague at Beaver. By 1939 she was showing lithographs at the Philadelphia Print Club and, in 1943, contributed a lithograph titled The Final Exam, a parody of a ladies’ first-aid class, to the America in the War exhibition.2 In January 1945 Francksen enrolled in the Print Club’s new Wednesday-evening working group “for artists who are interested in technical research in graphic methods.”3 Stanley William Hayter, Will Barnet, and Ezio Martinelli (1913–1980) were the group’s technical advisors. Bouquet (1946), a semi-abstract still life, showcases technical skills learned under Hayter’s tutelage such as engraving and soft ground etching. Francksen’s style, which had initially tilted toward realism with seascapes, landscapes, and representations of the Pueblo Indians, became abstract and geometric through the 1950s. By the end of the decade, she designed several public murals in the greater Philadelphia area, and a 1964 profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer called her a “pioneer of public art.”4 Francksen continued to produce and exhibit prints throughout her career, some of which are held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Woodmere Art Museum. In addition to Beaver College, she taught for many years at University of the Arts.

Selected Bibliography

“Art Exhibit Shows Work of Miss Francksen.” Beaver News, November 13, 1942.

Bonte, C. H. “Exhibit Held by Members of Print Club Workshop.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 1945.

———. “Wengenroth Wins Prize.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 19, 1939.

“Cloisters Exhibition Features Francksen.” The Swarthmore Phoenix, November 14, 1945.

“Faculty Notes.” Beaver News, September 24, 1943.

“‘Fush in Cat’ by Jean Francksen.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 20, 1968.

“Gallery Notes.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 3, 1950.

“Leaders of Co-Ed Sports at the University of Pennsylvania.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 29, 1936.

“Miss Francksen Exhibits Art Work.” Beaver News, January 12, 1945.

“Miss Francksen Exhibits Work.” Beaver News, October 15, 1943.

“National Art Week to Open Today.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 25, 1940.

“New Art Alliance Exhibits Have Wide Rnage in Form and Mood.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 14, 1951.

“Phila. Builds with Artistry.” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 26, 1964.

“Philadelphia Art Calendar.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 14, 1965.

“Praise for Francksen.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 1958.

“Prince-Forbes Post.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1929.

Woodmere Art Gallery. An Invited Exhibition by Eight Philadelphia Mural Painters. Philadelphia: Woodmere Art Gallery, 1958.


  1. Thank you to Timothy H. Horning, Public Service Archivist at the University Archives, University of Pennsylvania, for compiling a packet of information about Francksen’s undergraduate years.
  2. Ellen G. Landau, Artists for Victory (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1983), 40. An impression is now in the collection of the Library of Congress.
  3. “Artist’s Workshop” sign-up sheet, PPC Scrapbooks, 1916–82, reel 4232, AAA/SI.
  4. Woodmere Art Gallery, An Invited Exhibition by Eight Philadelphia Mural Painters (Philadelphia: Woodmere Art Gallery, 1958); “Phila. Builds with Artistry,” [Philadelphia Inquirer,]{.underline} March 26, 1964, 11.