The painting above is a detail from a watercolor by Winslow Homer called "Moonlight" from 1874. It seemed appropriate
to open the web site with it,
in that '74 was the year that Helena married Richard Gilder. There was a resemblance between Homer and Gilder- this could be a portrait of her and Richard on the beach (or her and Winslow).

The watercolor is a structural copy of a drawing by Jean-Francois Millet which Homer had seen in 1867 when he went to France (Millet overshadowed the age, Helena was to translate "Jean-François Millet, peasant and painter" by Alfred Sensier which ran in her husband's magazine "The Century" before it was published as a book.) Click on the watercolor to see the Millet drawing.

She was loved by everyone. Emma Lazarus described going to the Gilders' Friday night thing and finding fifty people there.

This site is intended for educational purposes only. All important sources are referenced. This is her life pieced together from all sorts of sources. I've not had access to letter collections or family archives or museums as yet. Please consider this a work in progress. Any help or any corrections will be greatly appreciated. Please contact me at if you'd like.


She inspired stain-glass windows, paintings, novels with her as the main character, and volumes of poems. She painted, raised children, organized art movements and was passionately loved by all of the creative women of her age.


I know not if I love her overmuch;
But this I know, that when unto her face
She lifts her hand, which rests there, still, a space,
The slowly falls- 't is I who feel that touch.
And when she sudden shakes her head, with such
A look, I soon her secret meaning trace.
So when she runs I think 't is I who race.
Like a poor cripple who has lost his crutch
I am if she is gone; and when she goes,
I know not why, for that is a strange art-
As if myself should from myself depart.
I know not if I love her more than those
Who long her light have known; but for the rose
She covers in her hair, I'd give my heart.

-Richard Watson Gilder

This is from a listing for the pamphlet that was for sale as a rare book on the Web:

"Glider, Helena De Kay - 'A Letter On Woman Suffrage, One Woman To Another' NY J. J. O'Brien April 1894. Although known as a painter, Gilder was better remembered as the founder of the Society of American Artists and the Art Student's League. The league espoused a principle of equality between men and women. She studied with Winslow Homer and John La Far ge and at Copper Union. She married Richard Watson Gilder, poet and editor of Scriber's and The Century magazines. The Gilders were well known for their Friday salon in NYC. For all that, Gilder opposes suffrage for women arguing that it should be the province of men and that women should leave it to them. Men should run government and take care of women who have too large a responsibility already. A Jewish woman, she ends by quoting the Talmud."

There's nothing to indicate that she actually was Jewish, she probably just thought it was a good quote.


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