Elizabeth Godshalk Burger, 94

Posted: March 19, 2012

Elizabeth Godshalk Burger, 94, whose paintings found an audience late in her life, died of complications from dementia on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Quadrangle, the retirement community in Haverford where she had lived for 17 years.

The most recent appearance of her work was in the spring 2011 group show Pennsylvania Impressionism and Landscape at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, said a friend, artist Bill Scott.

"She was a wonderful but reluctant painter," said Scott, who taught Mrs. Burger at the Main Line Art Center in recent years. "I don't think she showed when young."

Mrs. Burger's work was in group shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1988, Scott said, and at the Main Line Art Center in 1992, Bryn Mawr College in 1993, the Prince Street Gallery in Manhattan in 1995, the Woodmere in 2000 and the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg in 2000-01.

After graduating in 1940 from what is now the University of the Arts, Mrs. Burger attended private classes in the Center City studio of painter Arthur Carles, Scott said.

Mrs. Burger traveled widely among several intellectual disciplines.

She earned a bachelor's degree in zoology at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1950, and a bachelor's in architecture in 1951, and a master's in landscape architecture in 1958, both at the University of Pennsylvania, Scott said.

She also earned a master's degree in architecture in 1972 at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, he said.

"I think she stopped [painting] around 1970 and then I think by the 1980s she was painting again," Scott said. Mrs. Burger's subjects, for which she used oils on canvas, were still lifes and landscapes.

Her daughter, Jane Fadely, said Mrs. Burger earned a master's in philosophy and theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley in the 1970s.

In the same decade, her daughter said, Mrs. Burger worked for a Berkeley landscape architecture firm.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Burger is survived by a sister; two granddaughters; and her former husband, Edmund G. Burger.

A memorial service was planned for the summer.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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