Adele Earnest (1901-1993) was a folk art collector and dealer, who wrote several books about American folk artists and their work. She was especially interested in sculpture, particularly duck decoys and weathervanes. Born in 1901 in Waltham, Massachusetts, Earnest studied at Wellesley College and managed the Eva LeGallienne’s 14th Street Repertory Theater before her career in folk art began.
In 1939, she established the Stony Point Art Gallery in Stony Point, New York, where she exhibited and collected American folk art. Earnest had relationships with several folk artists and their families, including Elmer Crowell, William Edmondson, and John Scholl, as well as collectors such as David and Nelson Rockefeller. She corresponded with and held exhibitions of these artists and highlighted their work in her book, Folk Art in America: A Personal View (Schiffer Publishing, 1984).
Earnest was also an expert in decoys, publishing The Art of the Decoy: American Bird Carvings (Schiffer Publishing, 1982), which explores the history and tradition of bird decoys throughout the world. Through her extensive collection of decoys, she developed relationships with many other collectors and carvers of decoys.
In 1961, Earnest was one of six founding trustees of the American Folk Art Museum (originally established as the Museum of Early American Folk Art). She corresponded regularly with the curators and directors of the museum, and she donated some of her decoy collection and the Archangel Gabriel weathervane to the museum.