From Europe to Mid-America

Virginia / Gina Schnaufer / Knee

Virginia / Gina Schnaufer / Knee

Female 1898 - 1982  (84 years)

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  • Name Virginia / Gina Schnaufer / Knee  [1, 2
    Nickname Gina Knee 
    Born 31 Oct 1898  Marietta, Washington Cnty, OH Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 4, 5
    Gender Female 
    Occupation The Arts - Artist, painter 
    Died 31 Oct 1982  Riverhead, Suffolk Cnty, NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 5, 6
    Person ID I11538  SnoufferCampbell
    Last Modified 12 Feb 2014 

    Father William Thomas Schnaufer,   b. Sep 1857, Cow Run, Washington Cnty, OH Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Jan 1925, Marianao District, La Habana Province, Havana, Cuba Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 67 years) 
    Mother Ellen J. Baxter,   b. Jan 1872, West Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1937  (Age ~ 64 years) 
    Married 5 Jun 1895  Wellsburg, Brooke Cnty, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8
    Family ID F4179  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 William Cassius Goodloe McDowell,   b. 3 Jul 1895, Fayette Cnty, KY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Aug 1974, Naples, Collier Cnty, FL Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married Abt 1920  [3, 9
    Divorced Abt 1930  [10
    Last Modified 27 May 2013 21:28:04 
    Family ID F4181  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Ernest Walter Knee,   b. 15 May 1907, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Oct 1982, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Cnty, NM Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years) 
    Married 1933  Santa Fe, Santa Fe Cnty, NM Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 11, 12
    Divorced Apr 1944  [11, 13
    Last Modified 19 Jun 2013 17:18:03 
    Family ID F4182  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Alexander Brook,   b. 14 Jul 1898, Booklyn, Kings Cnty, NY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 1980, Sag Harbor, Suffolk Cnty, NY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 1945  [3, 13
    Last Modified 12 Feb 2014 12:04:45 
    Family ID F4183  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    'Cathedral Close'
by Gina Knee
    "Cathedral Close" by Gina Knee
    'Savannah Graveyard' by Gina Knee
    "Savannah Graveyard" by Gina Knee
    'Three Monuments' by Gina Knee
    "Three Monuments" by Gina Knee
    'Near Cordova, New Mexico,' by Gina Knee
    "Near Cordova, New Mexico," by Gina Knee
    1943, watercolor on paper, 19 x 23 in.

  • Notes 
    • Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out : The Life and Art of Gina Knee (Lubbock, TX; Texas Tech University Press: 1994), is a biography and an art history critique. Some excerpts, relevant to family history, are:

      p. 4 :
      “Deeply rooted in the nineteenth century, her family and education dictated a life of genteel ease. The daughter of William T. Schnaufer and Ellen Baxter Schnaufer, she was born Virginia Schnaufer on October 31, 1898, in Marietta, Ohio. Her German forebears had immigrated first to Maryland, then to Ohio, where they prospered in oil exploration and lumber businesses…. Virginia’s family [settled] in Lexington, Kentucky.”

      p. 5:
      “As a young woman she married Goodlow Macdowell, with whom she pursued an active, genteel life of parties and polo. The marriage lasted ten years, ending with Virginia’s abrupt flight from husband and home, leaving even her clothes behind. The details of the breakup are sketchy, because she seldom talked about these years in later life....

      p. 10, note 9: “During the course of her career, the artist first used [the name] Virginia or Gina Schnaufer; after her marriage to Ernest Knee, she began to call herself Gina Knee and used that name for the remainder of her professional life. For social purposes she used each of her three husbands’ surnames....

      p. 17:
      “Often accompanying [Gina] on her visits to the Indian ceremonials was a new companion [and photographer], Ernest Knee. Wintering in Tucson the previous year [1932], she had met the young Canadian…. Knee was a bright, articulate and fun-loving companion for the young divorcee from the East. He recalled later that when he met her she had just changed her name from Virginia to Gina, “pronounced with a hard ‘G.’ “ [Ghee-na, rather than Jee-na.]
      “[In May 1933 she persuaded him to travel with her to Santa Fe, NM.] She went on to Taos to study … while Knee remained in Santa Fe and pursued his study of photography. Their relationship deepened with Gina’s return to Santa Fe, and the two married in 1933.”

      [Their marriage lasted a little over 10 years. The Great Depression had forced Ernie to move to California to find employment. Gina was often in New York.]

      p. 111: “*** There were signs that the Knees’ marriage had begun to crumble.... Ernie was younger, stimulated by his job on the fringes of the Hollywood scene.... Now, in her mid-forties, she had given up hope for the children who might solidify the marriage.... Ernie’s detached support of her painting began to seem like real indifference.... The[ir] apartness became more and more frequent….

      p. 115: “Knee spent much of the autumn of 1943 in New York…. Gina spent time with old friends and met artists whose work she had long known. Perhaps it was during these months that she was introduced to the painter Alexander Brook. Or perhaps they met in Los Angeles, where he spent some winters in those years. ***

      p. 117:
      "Knee and Brook saw a great deal of each other in late 1943 and early 1944.... Her divorce from Ernie was final in April 1944; not long afterwards she and Brook began a new life together....
      “[They married and ] settled in Savannah, Georgia, setting up a studio home in an abandoned riverfront cotton warehouse....

      pp. 158-159:
      “Alex died in 1980; after his death, according to friends, Gina was never the same again. She missed the daily give-and-take with the gruff, demanding, often endearing man who had been her husband for thirty-five years. Days were empty without their daily laughter, their frequent bickering....
      *** Only two weeks before her death Gina’s last exhibition opened, appropriately, in Santa Fe.... Gina Knee died at a Suffolk, New York hospital on her eighty-fourth birthday, October 31, 1982”

    • Regarding Virginia's father, the American Consular Service's "Report of the Death of an American Citizen," (Havana, Cuba; 31 Jan 1925), records that William Thomas Schnaufer, aged 66 and a native of Marietta, Ohio, died 15 Jan 1925 of "heart failure" at the "Hotel Almendares, Marianao, Habana, Cuba." The report further noted that "The decedent came to Cuba to visit his daughter [Virginia], Mrs. Goodloe McDowel [sic]...." Accompanying him on the trip were his wife "Mrs. Wm. T. Schnaufer," who resided at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and his daughter Jeanne, "Mrs. Chas. T. Kavanagh," living at "Calle J 137 y 15, Habana, Cuba." See: National Archives, Washington, D.C.; General Records of the Department of State; Record Group: RG59-Entry 205; Box Number: 3927; Box Description: 1910-1929 Cuba Li - Wa; accessed via www.Ancestry.com., Online database, Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974. [Thanks to Barbara Erbele-Woods for uncovering this information.]
    • The Social Security Death Index provides that "Gina Brook" (SSN 085-38-6385; issued by NY) was born 31 Oct 1898 and died in Oct 1982 while residing in Sag Harbor, Suffolk Cnty, NY.
    • Obituary, The New York Times (4 Nov 1982):

      "Gina Knee [born Virginia Schnaufer], a painter and etcher, died Sunday [31 Oct] at Riverhead (L.I.) Hospital on her 84th birthday. Miss Knee, the widow of the painter Alexander Brook, had won prizes for her oils and watercolors, delicately rendered but firmly constructed semi-abstractions based on concrete themes.
      "Her work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, Phillips Gallery in Washington, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and Guild Hall in East Hampton, L.I. Recently, a show of her work was at the Santa Fe (N.M.) Gallery.
      "A native of Marietta, Ohio, Miss Knee studied at Smith College. For many years, she worked as a painter in Santa Fe. In 1945, she was married to Mr. Brook, and they lived and worked in New York and Savannah, Ga., before making their permanent home in North Haven, L.I., in 1947. Miss Knee's earlier marriages, to Goodlow MacDowell and Ernest Knee, were terminated by divorce.
      "A stepson, Alexander Brook, and a stepdaughter, Belinda Bacon, survive."

  • Sources 
    1. [S903] Lois S|, Lois Hall Snouffer, From Schnaufer to Snouffer, (Lois H. Snouffer & Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN 46802), 929.2 SN59SL (2013)., pp. 32-34.

    2. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 4; p. 10, note 9.

    3. [S40] Obituary|, Anonymous, "Obituary".

    4. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 4.

    5. [S281] Social Security|, U.S. Social Security Admin., Social Security Death Index, (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693).

    6. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 159.

    7. [S923] WV Marriages Index|, Anonymous, West Virginia, Marriages Index, 1785-1971, (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT; Online database, West Virginia, Marriages Index, 1785-1971, www.Ancestry.com).

    8. [S903] Lois S|, Lois Hall Snouffer, From Schnaufer to Snouffer, (Lois H. Snouffer & Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN 46802), 929.2 SN59SL (2013)., p. 101.

    9. [S903] Lois S|, Lois Hall Snouffer, From Schnaufer to Snouffer, (Lois H. Snouffer & Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN 46802), 929.2 SN59SL (2013)., p. 33.

    10. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 5.

    11. [S903] Lois S|, Lois Hall Snouffer, From Schnaufer to Snouffer, (Lois H. Snouffer & Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN 46802), 929.2 SN59SL (2013)., pp. 33-34.

    12. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 17.

    13. [S914] Gina Knee|, Sharyn R. Udall, Inside Looking Out: The Life and Art of Gina Knee, (Texas Tech University Press; Lubbock, TX (1994)), p. 117.