Three-year-old Patty Thum, 1856


Three-year-old Patty Thum, 1856


Patty Thum was known for her paintings of flowers, especially roses but she was also a talented landscape and portrait artist. She is one of the city's earliest professional woman artists. She also was an author, inventor, and major advocate for the arts in the City of Louisville. She dedicated her life to art from the age of 16 right up until her death at the age of 73.

Born in Louisville in 1853, Patty was the eldest child of Louisa Miller and Mandeville Thum, a doctor with a practice on Jefferson Street. Patty attended the Louisville Girl's School (the city's first public school). Patty was 9 years old when her father died in 1862, serving as a surgeon for the Confederate 7th Arkansas Infantry. Louisa never remarried and ensured her sons and daughters all attended college.

In 1869, at the age of 16, Thum left home and traveled north to study art at Vassar College, established in 1861 to "accomplish for young women what our colleges are accomplishing for young men."


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“Three-year-old Patty Thum, 1856,” The Filson Historical Society , accessed September 18, 2021,