Jessie Arms Botke Gallery

Painting by Artist Jessie Arms Botke

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Painting by Artist Jessie Arms Botke

Jessie Arms Botke (Jessie Hazel Arms Botke) was an American female artist who hold a high place in the California School of Impressionism . She was born in Chicago in 1883, and became known for her exotic, highly decorated bird studies — most often, they are pictures of birds, a large variety including white peacocks, blue peacocks, cockatoos, ducks, swans, geese, pheasants, and toucans, among others.

The birds are shown in natural settings accompanied by carefully painted flora, her paintings are richly adorned with an abundance of detail. She also did other subjects including Indian figures, genre, and desert landscapes, and usually painted in oil but worked in watercolor and gouache and frequently used gold and silver leaf in backgrounds.

She received art training at the Chicago Art Institute from John Johanson and spent a summer with Charles Woodbury in Ogunquit, Maine. She traveled in Europe and in 1911 moved to New York City where she became a student of Albert Herter and worked at Herter Looms until 1915, becoming a specialist in tapestry cartoons. She also worked with Herter doing all of the birds on a mural for the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco and with Herter’s wife as a private home decorator.

Returning to Chicago, she married Dutch-born Cornelius Botke, and they worked on murals together in Chicago for the Kellogg Company and the University of Chicago, Noyes Hall.

By 1906, Botke had arranged an exchange of her paintings for a trip West on the Santa Fe Railroad to Arizona and California, and the Railroad acquired works titled “Hopi Indian Life” and “California Missions”. She exhibited some of these western-subject paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Botke’s first visited California in 1918, and in 1919 the they decided to move to Carmel, California. Later in 1927 after an extended trip to Europe, they settled on a ten-acre ranch in Wheeler Canyon near Santa Paula, California. She lived there until her death in 1971.

She was a member of the California Art Club, the California Watercolor Society, and the Foundation of Western Art. She won numerous prizes including high distinction from the Chicago Art Institute.

During the height of her career, Jessie Arms Botke was proclaimed by critics as the greatest decorative painter of the West. The art world consisted primarily of male artists in the early twentieth century, yet Botke quickly earned a name for herself through a strong work ethic and an undeniable talent. She is primarily remembered for her ornate depictions of exotic birds, especially pelicans, geese, ducks, cockatoos, and peacocks, as well as her elegant paintings of tropical flowers, which inspired her to a high level of artistry.

  Dan Cretu | Illustrator

No matter the medium, Botke’s paintings are unique and filled with both wonder and fantasy. From her early plein air landscapes and her decorative friezes to her more mature gold-leaf oil compositions, Botke’s work remained relevant, even in the ‘60s, as a testament to her longevity as an artist and the sheer beauty of her creations.

Born in Chicago in 1883, Jessie Arms began painting and sketching at a young age. By 1902, she had enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, where she trained under the tutelage of renowned artists and teachers John C. Johansen and Charles Woodbury. Upon graduation, she moved to New York City to work for Albert Herter of Herter Looms, famed textile and tapestry design firm. She later contributed to a series of wall murals done by Herter for San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel.

After moving back home to Chicago, Jessie Arms met artist Cornelis Botke, who soon became her husband and lifelong partner. In 1929, the happy couple settled in Santa Paula, California’s Wheeler Canyon on a peaceful ranch consisting of ten acres. From her home and studio, Botke became the most exceptional decorative painter of the twentieth century with her bold portrayals of birds and flora, which were heavily inspired by Japanese screens. Later in life, she also proved herself to be a master watercolorist and printmaker.

Jessie Hazel Arms Botke (May 27, 1883 – October 2, 1971) was an Illinois and California painter noted for her bird images and use of gold leaf highlights.


Jessie Arms Botke was born in Chicago,Illinois to William Aldis and Martha (Cornell) Arms, and attended the Chicago Art Institute in 1897-98 and again from 1902 to 1905. She took summer classes from artists John Christen Johansen and Charles Herbert Woodbury and continued working with the renowned Albert Herter, who had the most influence in shaping her approach to composition and color.

Following a short trip to Europe in 1909, she returned to her parents Chicago residence and officially listed her profession as “artist, interior decorating.” She worked as a muralist in New York City (1911) and in San Francisco (1913-14). She married Cornelius Botke in April 1915 and gave birth a year later to their only child, William.

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She and her husband moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1919 and became influential figures in the local art colony until they moved to Southern California in 1927. During her career she was a prolific exhibitor. She was an exhibitor and secretary of the California Art Club. She ran her family’s ranch at Wheeler Canyon in Santa Paula, while continuing to paint. Jessie Arms Botke died on October 4, 1971 in Santa Paula, California.

Exhibitions and awards
1917 – Chicago Art Institute, Englewood Woman’s Club Prize
1918 – Chicago Art Institute, Martin B. Cahn Prize
1919 – Exhibition of Chicago Artists Annual, Chicago Artists’ Medal
1920 – Chicago Art Institute, William O. Thompson Prize
1920-1923 – Annual and Holiday Exhibitions of the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club
1921 – Milwaukee Art Institute (with Cornelius)
1921 – Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento (with Cornelius)
1922 (January) – Exhibition of California Women Painters, Stanford University Art Gallery
1922 (April) – Exhibition of Carmel and Monterey Artists, Stanford University Art Gallery
1922 – Chicago Art Institute Annual
1925 – National Association of Women Painters & Sculptors in New York, Honorable Mention
1925-1945 – Grand Central Galleries in New York City
1926 – Exhibition of Chicago Artists Annual, First Prize ($500.00)
1926 – Del Monte Art Gallery (Monterey, California)
1926 – Traveling Exhibition (with Cornelius) of Western and Midwestern Museums
1926 – Hotel San Carlos Art Gallery (Monterey, California)
1926-1927 – Carmel Art Gallery
1927 – Stendahl Galleries of Los Angeles (with Cornelius)
1933 – National Association of Women Painters & Sculptors in New York, Tucker Prize
1933 – Statewide Annual of the Santa Cruz Art League
1935 – First Annual Exhibition of the Academy of Western Painters, unspecified prize

Inspired by early work as a designer of woven tapestries, Botke’s art often featured birds, particularly white peacocks, geese and cockatoos. Later in her career, she moved from oils to watercolors, and also focused on still lives.

Botke exhibited regularly throughout the United States during her lifetime. Her work has also been exhibited posthumously at the Irvine Museum and the Museum of Ventura County.


Jessie Arms Botke (Jessie Arms Botke, 1883-1971) is an American artist who occupied one of the leading places in the California School of Impressionism. The artist was born on May 27, 1883 in Chicago. There she received an art education at the Institute of Art (Chicago Art Institute). Then she traveled to Europe, and in 1911 moved to New York, where she became an employee of Albert Herter, who was engaged in the manufacture of sketches for tapestries. Also with Herter, she painted birds on a panel for the hotel “St. Francis ”in San Francisco and worked as a home decorator for individuals. (Musical accompaniment: Franz Schubert – Ave Maria).

  Matt Wilson Gallery

Painter, illustrator, printmaker and muralist, Jesse Arms was born in Chicago, IL on May 27, 1883. She began her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, and continued with J. C. Johansen and Charles Woodbury. In 1911 she obtained employment with Herter Looms in NYC and assisted Herter with the mural in the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Upon returning to Chicago in 1915, she married Cornelis Botke.

The Botkes moved to Carmel CA in 1919. After an extended trip to Europe, in 1927 they settled on a ranch in Santa Paula, CA where she remained until her death on Oct. 2, 1971. She made a career of bold, decorative paintings of birds both in oil and watercolor, and often used gold leaf in her paintings.

From about 1917 her work won many awards both in Chicago and Southern California. Member: Calif. Art Club; Calif. WC Society; Nat’l Ass’n of Women Artists; Carmen AA; Chicago Society of Etchers.

Exhibited: AIC NAD; PAFA; LACMA; CPLH; Springville (Utah) High School, 1928; GGIE, 1939; Paris Salon. Awards: Cahn prize, AIC, 1918, Shaffer prize, 1926, Carpenter prize, Chicago Society for Sanity in Art, 1938.

Works held: Art Institute of Chicago; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Municipal Gallery, Chicago; Mills College, Oakland; San Diego Museum.

Murals: I Magnin Co. of Los Angeles; Woodrow Wilson High School in Oxnard, CA; Noyes Hall at the Univ. of Chicago; Kellogg Factory, Battle Creek, MI

The late Santa Paula artist Jessie Arms Botke (1883 – 1971) remains one of the most treasured decorative painters of the 20th century. Botke’s richly colored and detailed paintings of birds and flora are particularly prized among art collectors.




American Artist Jessie Arms Botke Painting
American Artist Jessie Arms Botke Painting

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