From the age of fifteen, painter and etcher Ellsworth Woodward dedicated his life to New Orleans and the promotion of Southern culture.
He had been born in Rhode Island in 1861, and had studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before moving to New Orleans with his older brother William in 1876. Ellsworth Woodward began a teaching career at Tulane University, first as an assistant to his brother, and eventually becoming a Director.
Later the brothers would play key roles in the organization of Newcomb College. William would be hired as a teacher in 1884, and Ellsworth would join a year later. By 1890 Ellsworth was promoted to Dean of the Newcomb Art School; a position he would keep for the next forty years.
The Art School, under Ellsworth's guidance, served as an educational and business school for its young female students. Studies centered on drawing and painting, design and the crafts of metalwork, china painting and embroidery. The brothers organized a pottery department which crafted the world famous Newcomb Pottery. They insisted on the use of local motifs in the pottery's art nouveau ornamentation, and they even purchased clay from the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
As a painter and etcher Ellsworth Woodward was active and productive, working primarily in watercolors, oils and etchings, he received a gold medal from the New Orleans Art Association, founded the Natchitoches Art Colony, was a jury member for the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 and was appointed the Director of the Gulf States Public Works of Art Project by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.
His paintings and etchings are in the collections of several major museums, including the Charleston Museum in South Carolina and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.