Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Bernice Cross became a muralist and a painter on canvas in abstract style of figure, genre and botanical subjects. She lived in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia and studied in Wilmington, Delaware at the Wilmington Academy of Art, and in Washington, D.C. at the C.L. Watkins Studio House, and the Corcoran School of Art. Her murals can be found at the Children's State Tubercular Sanitarium in Glendale, Maryland, and the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Initially read as archaic and simple, Halleluja is a complex celebratory spring painting full of color, imagination, and humor and combines many elements seen throughout her later career. A rural and urban scene, flowers dominate the foreground around which chickens and other birds peck as figures go about their business throughout the composition. The theme extends to the rooftops and to the skies, not only in the presence of birds but also in a group of angels that rest on the building tops. Many of Cross’ paintings incorporate religious themes and were often whimsical, combining elements of folk and abstract art. Cross’ style remained her own, unaffected by the major themes in art through the 1940s and 50s.
The frame is original to the painting and was most likely worked on by the artist. The frame bears it's original nameplate and exhibition labels on the verso.
Greenwich Gallery, CT., until 2002
Private collection Greenwich, CT., 2002 to present
Annual Independence Exhibition, Washington, D.C., 1935 (prize)
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1949, 1959
11th Annual Exhibition of Maryland Artists at the Baltimore Museum of Art