1941
February 28: Neel is terminated once again from the WPA.
March 19: Reassigned to WPA.
September 3: Birth of Neel’s and Brody’s son, Hartley Stockton Neel.
Fall: Moves to 10 East 107 Street in Spanish Harlem.
October 14: A letter from the Federal Works Agency, a branch of the WPA, notifies Neel that an appointment has been made for her with Miss Grace Gosselin, Director of the East Side House, explaining that there is ‘a solution for the older youngster to be placed at Winifred Wheeler Day Nursery, where you will teach’ (Neel Archives). Neel will teach painting at the school for two years.
1942
November: Moves with Richard and Hartley to a third-floor apartment at 21 East 108 Street, between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue in Spanish Harlem, where she will live and work for the next twenty years. The apartment features a large living room with two windows that face south and look out onto the street; this is where Neel will do most of her painting.
1943
The WPA is terminated by Congress, and Neel begins to collect public assistance, which she will continue to do until the mid-1950s.
1944
March 6-22: Exhibits twenty-four paintings in a solo exhibition at Rose Fried’s New York gallery, Pinacotheca. A review in ArtNews reports:
Neel’s paintings at Pinacotheca have a kind of deliberate hideousness which make them hard to take even for persons who admire her creative independence ... Nor does the intentional gaucherie of her figures lend them added expression. However, this is plainly serious, thoughtful work and in the one instance of The Walk, it comes off extremely well.
April 17: Life magazine, in an article titled ‘End of WPA Art’, reports that Henry C. Roberts, a bric-a-brac dealer, bought WPA paintings from a Long Island junk dealer who had obtained them for four cents a pound. Neel’s painting New York Factory Buildings is illustrated. She is able to buy back a few of her paintings from Roberts. s
1946
May 3: Neel’s father dies at the age eighty-two.
1948
Fall: Participates in the art fair of the Rudolf Steiner School, where both her sons are enrolled on full scholarships, by offering her services as portrait painter to the winner of a raffle. Neel will participate in this annual fund-raising fair until 1959, according to school newsletters.
1949
May: Illustrates Phillip Bonosky’s short story ‘The Wishing Well’, published in the journal Masses and Mainstream, whose contributing editors include Mike Gold, Phillip Bonosky, Paul Robeson, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Neel had met Bonosky, a reporter for the Daily Worker, the previous year.
December: ‘The Martyr: A Courtroom Sketch by Alice Neel’ is published in Masses and Mainstream.
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Neel with her son, Hartley c.1942
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Hartley in the foreground at the Winifred Wheeler Day Nursery c.1943
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Alice Neel, Relief Cut, 1950, ink on paper. The figures are Hartley and a neighbor, Mancie, and her daughter. Mancie often baby-sat for the two boys when Neel was busy
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Neel c.1943
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Neel with her two young sons, Richard, left, and Hartley, 1946