Mitchell walking with her father on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Her father, James Herbert Mitchell, was a doctor who had put himself through Bush Medical School at the University of Chicago by working in a pharmacy, and eventually becomes President of the American Dermatological Association.
Mitchell (left) with her father and sister.
Her father was an amateur artist who often took his daughters on outings in the country to make sketches and watercolors and to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they were first introduced to the work of Manet, Cézanne, Delacroix, and Renoir. By the age of five or six, Joan Mitchell’s favorite painter is Vincent van Gogh, and by the second grade she is attending weekend classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Mitchell riding horseback.
Mitchell attends the Francis W. Parker School, a progressive, private grammar and high school in Chicago. At age 12, she shows casein paintings at Francis Parker in her first exhibition. In 1939, she is introduced to the work of Oskar Kokoschka by her high school painting teacher Malcolm Hackett, whose influence will greatly affect her.
Mitchell in the late '30s, posing in her family home in Chicago.
While at Francis Parker, she meets classmate Barney Rosset, whom she will marry in 1949. Mitchell graduates from the Francis W. Parker School in 1942 at age seventeen. Although she wants to enroll at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her father is determined that she receive a more conventional education.