Woman in Art/Chapter 17 - Wikisource, the free online library
Women Painters, Present-Day Advancement
California Group. A Group In the Southland. A Group In the Middle West. Concerning Painters of Flowers.
Art is not only long but is filling out from ocean to ocean with the onward trend of the twentieth century; and what was difficult yet "beautiful for Pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness," has become the pathway for American progress, culture, and art, that were bound to follow the trail of the prospector and the prairie schooner across the continent.
Grandeur and beauty modified the way for those who had eyes to see, and future generations must not be allowed to forget that climatic conditions, Indians, and animal life have been large factors in our characteristic American art.
Our World's Fair held at Seattle, and the Panama-Pacific at San Francisco in 1915, have called together now and again groups of earnest workers in their several lines of interests, emphasizing the progress for and of the world, no less than for American interests.
Naturally men took the lead in depicting the landscape and animal life of mountain and plain, but as all western states have become peopled from the east, the necessities and refinements of life have developed rapidly. And we are reminded that art keeps the pace, and that woman no less than man has set the pace.
Mary Curtis Richardson became a California pioneer at the age of two. Her father, a young Wall Street business man, had gone west with the gold rush of 'forty-nine. One year later her mother with the three children went out to join him, traveling by the Panama route. Little Mary Curtis was carried across the Isthmus on the back of an Indian, and arrived finally in the port of San Francisco when that city was a huddle of tents.
Her earliest years were passed in a great fortified adobe hut upon the windswept plains north of the Bay; but the home scene shifted as her father's business interests changed. She lived in three separate sections of the state before she was twelve.
It was a picturesque and colorful world boiling with crude life, a society not yet organized, a climate given to floods and occasional tremors. No doubt the child accepted it as every-day life, but she was an unusually sensitive and imaginative child. Every day life for her was thrilling. She savored it to the full, and grew up, as most young people do, with no ambition except to enjoy herself.
Her mother, however, was a woman of ideas far in advance of her time. She believed that girls as well as boys should be trained to a profession and become self-supporting. Her father had been a copper-plate engraver. Naturally her mind reverted to this.
As soon as her daughters' education was finished she again made the long, hazardous voyage with them back to New York, the city of their birth, and entered them as pupils in the school of art at Cooper Union. Great was the fame of Cooper Union! Two girls had traveled all the way from California to study drawing there. In 1866 it was an unheard of thing. Peter Cooper himself heard of it and was pleased and astonished. But greater was the wonder in San Francisco when they returned after a two-years' absence, full-fledged wood engravers, and set up shop in the carriage house of their father's home. Mary, the younger, barely twenty, was the draftsman, Leila the block cutter. They had plenty of orders. One of their earliest, the cover for the Southern Pacific Railroad booklet, was in use until recently.
The fact that in a year or two both married, in no way interfered with their business activities. They flourished, took in a junior partner, and took a downtown office.
In spare hours Mary did a little sketching from life to amuse herself. These sketches came under the eye of Benoni Irwin, the portrait painter, who had married her younger sister. On his advice, and somewhat against her conscience, she spent a year in New York, studying first at the Art Students' League, then in a small private class under the criticism of William Sartain. During that winter the famous painting, "Milton Dictating Paradise Lost," was exhibited in New York. It was the first really notable work by a colorist that she had ever seen. Up to this time she had worked in black and white, but now she realized the possibilities of color as a medium. She went home to resign from the office, letting the junior partner take her place, and again the loft of the carriage house—this time her own and her husband's—was fitted up as a studio.
She had no children to absorb any of the force of her emotional life. Her husband sympathized with her ambitions. Her sister and brother-in-law were encouraging. She spent another winter in New York with them, not in any class, but working in Mr. Irwin's studio, profiting by his criticisms and by conversations of other painters who dropped in at the end of the day to smoke and chat. Famous painters, English and continental as well as American, "talked shop" there, and the student behind the screen, washing brushes, absorbed all she could understand.
Spring brought notice to all studios of the impending exhibition at the Academy. And there was a prize, the Norman Dodge prize, offered for the best work in color by a woman. Mr. Irwin suggested, "Why not try for it?" Preposterous! She did not think she could even pass the jury. No harm, though, in trying.
She secured a charming, golden-haired actress, who posed in white against a yellow background, daffodils in her hands. The picture was finished at the last moment and slipped in just in time. It was hung, and it took the prize! The unknown young artist from the west was overwhelmed, uplifted, and almost terrified by her abrupt success. Her student life was ended. She had become a painter.
But unlike many young painters who have tasted their first triumph, she did not go abroad to study. She went home.
From this time her working life may be divided into three periods. The first, that in which she was developing as a portrait painter, and while her work and reputation as such was confined to her home state of California.
In 1893 Mrs. Richardson visited the Columbian Exposition, but it was not till 1899 that she had an order east of the Pacific slope. Then she was requested to go to Chicago and paint a portrait of Mr. Peabody of the Cluett Peabody Company. That being successfully finished, she had still further orders, two in Chicago and one in Buffalo. The accomplishment of those may be called the beginning of the second period. In that decade she painted many portraits, some of women, but the greater number of children and of men. Bankers, physicians, business men and educators prominent in the life of the Pacific Coast were her sitters. The most notable of these latter were John Swett, Professor Paget of the Chair of Romance Languages at the University of California, and Mrs. Mills, President of Mills College. But Mrs. Richardson was, and is, best known as a painter of genre subjects, pictures of children, or women and children. She experimented with various mediums and produced some delightful little pastel studies done out-of-doors. Usually, however, she paints in oil, and always she is first a colorist. Three small panels of hers were carried to London by a friend and attracted the favorable criticism of John Singer Sargent.
A year or two later Macbeth visited her studio in San Francisco and was so interested in her work that he invited an exhibition of it at his New York Gallery, a great compliment to the artist.
The show was held in 1910. Among its more important canvases were the "Sleeping Child" and "On the Stairs," both purchased afterward in California and presented to public galleries, the first to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the second to the Pasadena Art Gallery. Other canvases sold in New York; one by invitation was exhibited in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D. C., another at the Pennsylvania Academy, and yet another traveled to the International Exposition in Buenos Aires. Two crossed the Atlantic to be shown in the Grafton Galleries, London. These, unfortunately, making their return trip on the Titanic, were lost.
Thus, though the artist has never left the country of her birth, her pictures have traveled far and wide.
The third phase of the artist's life, the more leisurely, was now beginning, and it opened auspiciously with perhaps the finest and most important portrait she ever painted, that of Dr. David Starr Jordan, a full-length, life-size canvas ordered for Stanford University. It was followed by a portrait of Dr. Branner who took the presidential chair when Dr. Jordan retired. Her last large genre picture of her favorite subject, "The Young Mother," took the silver medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. But between then and now there have been many other canvases, and at the present time and at an age somewhat past seventy, Mary Curtis Richardson is engaged on a portrait group of a mother and her four sons.
California has called to the east with varying voices, and its inducements have been manifold. From the path-finder over unknown mountains and the discouraging stretches of plains, and the voices that echoed, Eureka! Eureka! Gold! to the whirring biplane annihilating time and distance, the alluring majesty of mountains, canyons, waterfalls and trees of nature's primal pattern—all have voiced the call to the east from the west.
Remembering that art follows prosperity as its shadow, the Twentieth Century looks along the western slope of the Rocky Mountains—and finds art, finds it at home, working in its studio; finds that art came some of the way in a covered wagon; some of the way on foot; some by way of the Isthmus of Panama.
But Art is at home on the Pacific Coast, and woman no less than man is building her art and cultural influence into our western heritage.
Sometimes it takes a long road and the scoring of a long time table, to reach a nearby destination. In such a case the philosophic poet tells why it is so:
"There is a destiny that shapes our ends.
Rough hew them as we may."
It is Destiny writ large. It is the thing the individual is made for and responds to, according to the urge within. Nor does the individual always choose or plan his way, destiny does that.
The life of Helen Hyde illustrates this in a marked degree. Her early girlhood was spent in California with a relative of ample means, and a love for art, a combination that enabled her to be of genuine assistance to the gifted girl in her home. A most unusual environment surrounded the child, from which she gained so much knowledge that it was a wonderful help when she was ready for study in Europe. Two years in Paris were spent under the instruction of Raffael Collin, then a year in Berlin with Skerbina, who helped her to appreciate the beauty and values in landscape painting. In Holland she tarried a long time studying the characteristics of that most individual country, its lights and shadows, its long, level horizon and unbroken distance (save by windmills and mastheads). She noted the outside and inside of its home life and colorful costumes.
A visit to England was not so long; she was nearing home and her accumulated study and knowledge increased her desire to answer the strong urge for self-expression; the work of developing and realizing her individuality.
On her return to San Francisco she was greeted by a Chinatown; a conglomeration of types, colors, and costumes wholly unfamiliar to her before, all of which fascinated her with orientalism and color in which she always delighted. Color abounded—from the gorgeous embroidered mandarin coats on august officials to the tiny tots in rich brocaded stuffs; formal restrictions hedging in any natural buoyancy of spirit and action, the simplicity of childhood was eclipsed. Women with benumbed feet hobbled along in beflowered kimonos, with erect heads wearing the universal black coiffure.
The young artist, fresh from her studies, fell to work with unbounded enthusiasm. The critics were both honest and generous concerning her original work; it was poetic and it was from life. With the etcher's needle she worked with remarkable success, and again the critics applauded. But, turning critic upon herself, she was not satisfied with results, and this is what happened: She took a finished etching of a tiny girl on a door step and studied it with care. It did not please her. It seemed flat, something was wrong, something was lacking.
Half-unconsciously she took a bit of color from her box and laying it upon the plate pressed this upon the paper, and, astonished, looked a second time! "Trotty" had come to life! Delighted with the effect, she threw off a number of impressions, varying the colors at each surprising result.
Thus Helen Hyde, returning to the home she started from, entered upon a new and significant phase of her art. She studied faithfully the Asiatics as seen in America, but longed to see them at home. Then the opportunity came, came for a whole year in Japan! One year had been the plan. But again Destiny stepped in. She worked unfalteringly, fascinated with the land, the people, and her work, and year followed year; Helen Hyde was making a name for herself with her new art.
It has been said that her eye was intoxicated with the manifold beauties about her, and she determined to study these not only as found in nature but their expression in art by the great masters as well. "With this object in view, she asked Kano Tomanobu, the last of the great Kano school of painters, to become her teacher. He consented to do so, and for two years she devoted herself to the task of acquiring the Japanese method of wielding the brush. This, as is well known, is quite different from our own, and presents difficulties to foreigners. She worked hard, sitting, as is the fashion in Japan, on the dainty white mats of the floor, and earned well-merited praise from her gentle old teacher. Her reward came when, at the expiration of two years, Tomanobu asked her to paint a kakemono for the annual spring exposition. She did so, calling her picture 'A Monarch of Japan.' It showed a charming Japanese mother proudly holding up a chubby baby to the admiring gaze of a second young Japanese woman. A tiny branch—a mere suggestion—of wistaria, cuts the edge of the picture in true Japanese fashion. Despite the Japanese accessories of dress, etc., the sentiment of the whole is distinctly Western, not Oriental. It is interesting to know that the picture was awarded a first prize on the strength of excellent handling of a particularly difficult brush—for it is by the merits or demerits of skillful brushwork that Japanese pictures are chiefly valued."
"The great popularity enjoyed by this first public venture encouraged Miss Hyde to follow the custom of some of the Japanese artists of last century and produce her composition in the form of a color-print. It was thus that she entered a field of art which has since made her famous."A clipping the artist sent the writer in a letter about that time was also encouraging, and hints of her enthusiasm in her work: "From time to time charming bits of block printing in the Japanese manner by an American hand came from Tokio. There were alluring groups of Japanese children, quaint figures in lovely costumes, and little Japs thrilling with the fierce spirit of war. They are the work of Helen Hyde. She does her delicate printing with her own hands, sometimes pulling off two hundred prints from one set of blocks, each requiring the nicest care in the coloring and adjustment. In addition to the exquisite mechanical work, the pictures, the drawing, the color are fine, and the whole exceedingly decorative. One of her recent prints takes its title from the well-known hymn, 'Onward Christian Soldiers,' though the treatment is not especially evangelical. A Japanese boy, processional and fine in warlike robe, lifts his feet as though to the sound of fierce martial music. The procession is skillfully indicated by the foot and elbow of a second of these 'infantry' appearing at the side of the picture, which is called 'Marching As to War.' Perhaps the most attractive of all is "The King of Japan," a baby held aloft and condescending to notice two worshipful women in front of him. One is not sure that the women in Japan rule the men as they do in the United States, but certainly the children rule the women as Themistocles said they did in Greece thousands of years ago."
At different times when in America, Miss Hyde sketched in various localities, always finding new beauties where others overlooked them, and always helpful to younger artists seeking the best expression for the nature that appealed to them. This appreciation of both art and artists was a godsend to some diligent workers in the southern states where Helen Hyde went at one time for rest and a new environment. At another season she acted on the advice of a friend and turned her steps toward Mexico, expecting to find, as she expressed it, "a country of sharp contrasts and sharper edges." Instead, she found it a country of wonderful colors softened by the warm, mellow haze, harmonizing the tones of various individualities of scenes. This characteristic of semi-tropical atmosphere is reminiscent to the writer of the exquisite glow suffusing the landscapes painted by Frederic E. Church in South America during the nineteenth century—a mellowness of tone that might be a hint of Paradise.
Some of the sketches by "H. H." in that memorable year of 1912, she made into fascinating color-prints, especially of the children and donkeys. Miss Hyde had a heart that went out to children of every name or race, because they are buddings of humanity, and in their simplicity, naiveté, and loveliness are prophetic of earth's future. As an artist she caught the charm and naturalness of child life.
There seemed so much for Helen Hyde to accomplish in the world that it was a shock and grief to the art world as well as to her wide circle of friends to know that she had passed to the spirit land. She was born in Lima, Ohio, April 6th, 1868, and died May 13th, 1919, at Pasadena, California—a pioneer in America in color etching, original in her expression of beauty.
A full collection of her prints and many paintings are in the National Gallery at Washington, and in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and in the Art Institute of Chicago. Miss Hyde's work is known the world over, wherever art is to be reckoned with.
The work of Rowena Meeks Abdy needs to be reckoned with in American Art by woman, for in a sense she is a pictorial historian, and we have need of yet more such themes.
She was born in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 1887. Her parents were Americans. The daughter has adopted California as her state; her love and appreciation of it as a state, and its beauty and grandeur, have induced her to know it from the towering crown of Mount Shasta to the drooping palms of San Diego. Her method of accomplishment was unique. The interior of her sedan was remodeled and fitted as a studio on wheels. The quiet and privacy of locked doors permitted her to sketch in comfort, free from dust, wind, and the too-inquisitive audiences by the wayside.
Her appreciation and valuation of times and things that are passing have prompted the painting of scenes of "Old California Days." A picture of Main Street in the early Spanish days is of exceeding interest. Its story-and-a-half buildings seem to run down toward the bay. Gnarled and crooked trees grow where nature planted them, and donkeys and burros were a means of transportation.
"The Casa of the Commandante," its facade presenting two stories and verandas, with the distant view across the bay, gives a picture of the primitive town. Old pepper trees seem to reach down and finger the mosses on the old roof. On another canvas she views from the hill top the phoenix-like city rising from the ashes of fire and earthquake; remaining ruins form the foreground, while the background is the blue and silver distance of the bay.
Rowena Abdy has a far-seeing and a constructive mind. The Now moves her to preserve for the future the progress of yesterday. She has not only pictured pioneer days in California, but has carried paint box and easel along the Ohio River and gained inspiration and studies to represent the days when Ohio was near the western boundary of the nation, when navigation on the Ohio River was of great commercial value.
"On the Coast Near Monterey" is one of her larger oil paintings. Her color is strong and clear, the atmosphere mellow; this applies to her decorative work as well. A panel of "Wild Geese" is attractive because of naturalness.
Such an artist could not do less than build her home and studio on the heights overlooking the bay, as she has done. An artist she is, and the philanthropic instinct is hers also. She has arranged by will that her beautiful home and studio, after she has passed on, shall be preserved for the use of women students who may need a year or two of assistance to complete their studies. She wants the oncoming artists to realize that it is not their ambition alone to be benefited by culture, but they must work for the furtherance of native art.
Close analytical study of European Galleries strengthened her desire to be an American painter.
Rowena Meeks Abdy studied with Mr, Arthur J. Mathews of San Francisco Fine Arts School. Early in her career she received first premium for painting at the State Fair in Sacramento. Later she was awarded the first prize for water color painting at the Southwest Museum of Art in Los Angeles.
There has been a great demand in the west for her sets of water colors, "On the Ohio" and "Old California."
The Southland Has Given Us a Group of Artists
The seed-sowing of art in recent years has been on the principle of "broadcasting," if one may judge from the upspringing of artists in all sections of the country—and their influence and interest in establishing art schools and leagues, and from their individual work as seen at exhibitions from all points.
The south is adding profit and prophecy to its material achievements and successes. Many of the states are enthusiastic over results shown in the exhibitions of the Southern States Art League. In the art of the country they are to be reckoned with. Theirs is a most encouraging showing as to numbers and quality of work of both men and women, but here we can deal with only a few to represent woman's share in the technical and psychological viewpoint already reached.
Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer is of the group of enthusiastic members of the Southern States Art League, her home being in Nashville for many years, though a native of Pennsylvania.
She has painted many attractive figure pictures; one of the most appealing and artistic is of her mother, which she called "Mother's Day." It is a beautiful reminder to anyone of "Mother." Seated in her easy chair, she has been reading a birthday letter, still in her hand, though her gaze is directed to the vase of flowers on the table before her. It is a dear, motherly face—the soft, white hair, the simple tulle at the throat held in place with the treasured cameo pin. The face is expressive of sweetness and serenity. The background is exquisitely restrained, but the glass bowl with its spray is there against the filmy curtain.
Miss Hergesheimer is a very acceptable portrait painter, bidding fair to keep up the fine reputation of the "Old Masters of the Blue Grass" state.
Anne Goldthwaite belongs to the group of American painters of the southern states. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, surrounded by wooded hills and vales, it is no wonder that her first attempts at art were devoted to landscape painting. In New York she was awarded the McMillan prize for the best landscape, $100, at her first venture. She studied in New York and for a time in Paris. From landscape she took to etching with marked success, or she would not be represented in the Congressional Library at Washington, D. C., by a complete folio of her work. She received the bronze medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915, for her etching, and has found them one of her lucrative assets. Her etching is represented also in the public library of New York, and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as in the Musée du Rue Spontini in Paris.
Miss Goldthwaite painted portraits and the nude principally when in Paris; indeed, her portraits at the Panama-Pacific Exposition were drawing cards to her reputation as a portrait painter.
She has painted a number of nudes in bowers of leafage and in the softening effect of a twilight sky, but even in that fading light she has not been able to discover the secret of Henner's flesh tones and luminousness. However, she is one of the younger artists, with plenty of time and vim, plus her talent, to aid in reaching greater things.
One is thankful she has returned to her native country where there is subject and sentiment sufficient to make her an American artist.
Grace Ravlin, one of the present-day group of women given to art, is a product of the State of Illinois, naming Kanesville as her birthplace and receiving the foundation of her art education at the Art Institute of Chicago under the phenomenal instruction of John Vanderpool, to whose thoroughness she attributes much of her success. At the same school she began work in water colors with Martha Baker. William M. Chase was her teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and in Paris she worked under Simon and Ménard. She was made a member of the Associée Sociéte Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1912, and Peintresse Orientalistes Francais. An encouraging number of sales and awards have rewarded her work: a third medal from Amis des Arts of Toulon in 1911; a silver medal at the Panama Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915; in Chicago the Field and Butler prizes fell to her lot in 1918, also the Peterson prize given at the Art Institute in 1922. Among Miss Ravlin's canvases attracting marked attention are the "Procession of the Redentore, Venice," and "Arab Women in Cemetery at Tangiers" (in the Luxembourg, Paris). Four of her paintings are owned by the French government and two are in Chicago. "The Plaza" is in the Newark Museum, and "Market Day, Grand Socco" in the Los Angeles Museum.
Miss Ravlin impresses one as being a young woman with a well-defined vision through which she sees her future. As there are no more continents to discover she has focused her vision on races and lands of the past, bringing them to life, as it were, by her own absorbing interest and indefatigable energy. The origin of races in various countries and certain similarities of modes of life among such peoples seem to be a passion with her that leads on to her chosen subjects. The picturesqueness of oriental lands, peoples, costumes, and colors is the charm of her canvases.
To her the Indian of Taos has an attraction not unlike that exerted by the Arab on his sand-swept fatherland. They seem to have inhabited their respective corners of the earth at the same early period. Hers seems a call from the orient, from the desert coast of Africa, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco, not too far from her chosen Paris, yet one feels that the call may come yet stronger from historic, arid Persia or the sparsely peopled ruins of Asia Minor where lies buried the one-time civilization of Croesus, for beauty abides even after civilization has yielded her best back to nature and the wandering nomad.
The French Orientalist, Gerome, had somewhat to do with the founding of the society of Les Peintres Orientales Francais, of which Jean Benjamin Constant was its most brilliant light, and it was a signal acknowledgment of the ability of Grace Ravlin that she was elected to its membership; and with that body of artists she has exhibited much of her work done in Tangiers. "In the Navajo Country" Miss Ravlin tells of her interest in America's first settlers. She is an earnest thinker and worker, and realizing that the Indian is being educated out of his customs and costumes, out of his native haunts—out of everything except history and a few well-written descriptions of his life and character and the poetry of his nature—she has joined the rank of painters who are preserving some of the picturesque aspects of Indian life on the plains.
Her paintings partake of the full light in which they are painted; in turn, they seem to reflect the captured light and color to the gallery fortunate enough to house them.
She said, "Our recent journey into the interior of Morocco brought us as far as Marrakesh, the storied home of the Sultans, where the dark pines are silhouetted against the white hoods of the Atlas Mountains where the chilly winds sweep down from the snow fields above into the semi-tropical gardens." She has produced a triptych form of painting called "The Festival of the Sheep," picturing the market place of Tangiers which is said to resemble a scene as old as the days of Abraham.
America needs the art of the orientalist, for since the brilliant canvases of Frederick A. Bridgeman we have had but small glimpses of those fascinating lands and people—fascinating to the scientist and interesting and charming to the rest of the world.
The United States, extending from 25° to 48° north latitude, and from 70° to 135° west longitude, offer a tremendous outlay of the objective and subjective for American artists to cope with. From the border of the arctic to the tropical, from the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies as sentinels above the Pacific slopes, to the verdure-clad Allegheny Mountains with their fertile and wooded slopes reaching to the Atlantic, there, with open and outstretched arms forming bays for tidal waters and commerce—all this, and everything between that heart could wish in the realm of river and plain and their contributions to life and beauty, offers beauty and grandeur to those who could contribute to art, and to those who can only absorb it for their satisfaction of mind and the uplift and expansion of soul.
Art follows in the wake of prosperity; prosperity follows in the wake of Industry (written with CAPITALS), and Industry drives the four-horse power of Farming, Mining, Manufacturing, Engineering. These powers have been corralled into the studio, raised to the nth power on an artist's scaffold, to do mural work for today's decoration and pictorial history for the reading of tomorrow.
Literature has its prose, history, fairy tales, poetry, et cetera; so has art all these modes and means of expression; and no less has music. They all form the gamut of colors, each of its particular art, each partaking of its native atmosphere and the mood of its environment. All these give infinite variety to the arts and to painting in particular, for pictures are more easily read than books.
As love responds to love, so does beauty touch the note of beauty in the human heart, with more or less of vigor according to its expression or presentation.
The art of a nation marks its growth; we realize this when we note that individuals, groups, art leagues, schools, and museums of art, with great rapidity and vigor, are springing up in all sections of the country—those in the south and west of prime interest because they are younger, fresh and strong with enthusiasm, new ideas, and the freshness of spirit with which they appreciate and appropriate what their section of country offers.
There is a special pleasure in speaking of Miss Alice R. Huger Smith. First, because she is a southern product and is devoted to the south and its beauty, and because one of her highest aims is for the development of her chosen art in her native state. Alice Smith loves art for art's sake, but more for the sake of its influence in historic Charleston. She is first of all a landscape painter in the zenith of her power; but some years before, she was just a normal girl, so in love with nature that she would go rowing or fishing at sunrise or before, or into the cypress swamps to study "the herons at home," or amid the magnolia trees glorious at sunrise opening their white cups of fragrance, where cardinals and orioles, unaffrighted, gave her studies in color and pose.
Her work is emphatically characteristic, be it a broad landscape or a cardinal tilting on a red cedar branch, or a tanager preening his scarlet coat amid the flowers of the cotton plant—all have posed for the petite artist in nature's own studio, and be it a sketch, a block print, or a broad sweep of water color, all show a resemblance to some of the most attractive Japanese art. Alice Smith may be called a natural artist, her art being of no school or master. At first, having made up her mind to an art career, she took a room and worked prodigiously at little things and large that were to meet the rent. "She even confessed to having made in those days eight hundred negro sketches at a dollar apiece—seven on Monday, six on Tuesday, five on Wednesday. By Saturday she was never equal to more than one. In the end, of course, fatigue triumphed." When a visitor from the north lifted eyebrows at her little japanned box, she went forthwith to King Street and bought a meat platter and tubes of paint, and then large brushes. Then it was she heard the unfamiliar word "design," and began to study her own work critically.
Having heard of Mr. Burge Harrison's arrival from Woodstock, New York, she betook herself to "The Villa" and asked if he would give her lessons. No, for he had run away for a rest, but he was willing enough to talk with her now and then about what she was trying to do, and even to quarrel a bit. "Moss is not paintable," he would say, and she, in spite of her awe of him, would answer mischievously, "That is just what I think about snow."
Mr. Harrison taught her a great deal and under his influence she began to train herself to go out and look at things and paint them from memory.
There is an orientalism in her composition and handling of light and shade that, applied to the poetic subjects of her southern environment, produced a fascinating art. The white egret in its boudoir of sheltering palms overhanging the river is a thing of beauty, of nature, of solitude, and exquisite art. So, too, is the broad sweep of marshland softened by the misty atmosphere of the dawning, through which the white herons take to wing from beds amid the reeds. No other method could bring out the poetry of nature's every-dayness and give to art the hallmark of the southland.
Alice Smith has a remarkable knowledge of Japanese line and color, the immediate impulse for which was the study of Japanese woodcuts with her kinsman, Motte Alston Read, and a later indebtedness to Helen Hyde, who enlarged her vision of that phase of art during her stay in Charleston.
The backgrounds for her dreams in color are phenomenal in their relation to the main object, as exemplified in the opening bud of the Magnolia Grandiflora, in juxtaposition to the soft lunette of the rising sun, while the tint from its nest of richest green leafage mingles with the waving gray of Spanish moss. Another example, which hardly has need of a name, was one of her earliest prints, "The Moonflower and the Hawk-moth," purchased by a Japanese collector in New York and taken to his native Japan. In that woodblock print the moonflower has opened its pure white, funnel-shaped beauty against the silver of the full moon, and the velvety moth is within touch of the golden stamens. Two or three leaves of night-shaded green give the artistic contrast to the picture.
Alice Smith has a wide reputation for the three phases of her art, through the Southern States Art League and the Carolina Art Association, which is rapidly spreading and interesting the north. She is in love with her native land and with all that therein is, and it is full of beauty and interest. A little cabin with a door and one window, smoke dreamily escaping from a hole in the gable, a few tall, long-leafed pines for its background, and an unkempt space of weedy foreground makes a picture that lingers with one. You realize it is miles from anywhere, that peace and quiet broods the place like a blessing. You can almost hear bird notes from bush and tree. Then there is the human side of the picture, the psychological, that sets one to thinking, just because of that little curl of smoke.
The artist puts the landmarks of South Carolina where the rest of the world can see, even if they never cross the Mason and Dixon line.
Most people avoid a swamp, but our artist friend is up with the dawn and steals amid the morning shadows to enjoy the heron at home. She pictures a covey of those birds in their native haunts amid a primal growth of big cypress trees. They are unafraid, enjoying life and freedom, in the trees, in the water, and on the wing.
Alice R. Huger Smith is represented in the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston, and the Delgado Museum in New Orleans. She is an original artist, working in her own way at her chosen subjects, hence she has learned to be her own best critic.
Camelia Whitehurst, of Baltimore, is another member of the Southern States Art League. Her subjects are what everybody is interested in—everybody that is human—for Miss Whitehurst loves children and paints them as if she did. She has won the first prize in three annual exhibitions of the League, also several honors of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.
It is a very promising outlook for the future of art in our south and southwestern states that so many of the younger generation of artists are augmenting the growth of the Southern States Art League. That seems to refer to number, but not merely, for there are many sincere, enthusiastic workers, who realize the value of art to a nation, and of work to the highest achievement in art.
The president of the Southern States Art League, Professor Ellsworth Woodward, gave the address at the dedication of the new Art Museum at Atlanta, Georgia. At the banquet given in honor of the donor of the museum, Mrs. Joseph Madison High, Mr. Woodward gave the assembled art association this significant suggestion: "Take good care of your artists. They constitute your defense against the commonplace and the standardized. It is they who realize a people's inner life, love, and longing, and interpret them to the world. Art is the preservation of high ideals. It is also one of the most practical of pursuits, for it dominates the markets of the world."
The women painters of America are annually showing more impressive, charactered, and pleasing results in figure painting and portraits, which is an encouraging indication of progress. And very properly, for the study of mankind is Man. But man lives in an exceedingly beautiful world, as varied in its seasons and moods as the human nature it supports, yet it is surprising how few devote themselves to landscape painting. Although woman has her freedom and prerogatives in most things, there are duties and varying hindrances to her shouldering a pack and going afield, as do the men, for sketching. Mary Butler is one of the twentieth century young women who can and does face the sunrise, the freshening breeze, or the storm; she tramps the hills, the downs and bogs of Ireland, and gleans the picturesque and beautiful as her eyes see it and her soul feels it. She is a real nature lover, and hence a landscape painter. She loves the wind and paints it, and the glory of sunrise, and is up betimes to enjoy and paint it. She appreciates the silence and solemnity of uninhabited stretches of hill and vale, and interprets them on canvas.
Mary Butler loves to hark back to her Quaker grandmother's girlhood to get at the beginning of her own longing for the beautiful and her strong desire for art expression. It is one of those cases that may be illustrated by the florist who puts his greenhouse rose bushes in a cool, dark place for months, keeping them in a hibernating condition, as it were, and when brought into congenial warmth of sunshine he is rewarded with roses of remarkable strength and beauty.
The rosebud plucked surreptitiously and tucked in the edge of that grandmother's white kerchief was more beautiful because of the severe gray of her gown, and was more eloquent than words of her innate love of the beautiful.
The grand-daughter of today revels in depicting beauty as she sees it broadcasted in this munificent world of ours. She catches the characteristics of the country where she tarries to sketch. You could not mistake her presentation of "Gratfeld Mountain" for a scene in the New Hampshire mountains; the atmosphere and the lay of the land have their own individuality; the low-roofed cottages, almost hidden in the oasis of wild shrubbery at the foot of the bleak, barren hills, make a suggestive canvas, and anyone who has had even a glimpse of Hibernia would say at once, if looking at "Farm Lane," "That is a bit of Old Ireland!" Miss Butler paints with rapidity and strength, and there are instances when her work tells its story or gives its introduction to a country or locality almost better in black and white than in pigment, so telling are her values. The direct contact of brush to canvas, saying what she has to say and no more, recalls again the fact of her Quaker ancestry—the spirit she is heir to from people and principles that knew how to help in the building of a nation, and how to keep it.
Mary Butler has been very happy in representing light in "Early Morning—Monhegan." It is just the place with rock-formed seat where one would love to sit and watch the coming of a new day and breathe the refreshing air from across the sunlit water."The North Wind" is eloquent of the power unseen, save in its actions; and verdure, from grass to trees, makes obeisance to that power.
Miss Butler has the wanderlust to an extent that will broaden and enrich her art. In the Renaissance period nature was lavish of her gifts, granting to some a plurality of talents, and the generous Dame still keeps up the good work among twentieth century artists, of whom Mary Butler is one. One of her extra gifts is that of organizer. "She has been an inspiration, organizer, and one of the upholders of the Fellowship Society of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, till it found its feet and kept them after a trying period of dissolution.
"'Why should we always feed those who have plenty,' argues Mary Butler. 'Why should we not carry our bread to those who are really hungering for it?'" She realizes "that true art appreciation cannot dawn in America until within the children of the country there stirs a desire for the beautiful. And with this thought in mind, she initiated an art service to public schools, working always through the Fellowship."
Mary Butler is thus working in one of the most powerful ways in the building up of a national art, a work that seems emphatically Woman's work in art. Being one of the enthusiastic, vital persons, she is making a practical application of art to life.
Lillian Westcott Hale is one of those artistic spirits whose mentality, in some degree an inheritance, plus the will power and perseverance of her own, has made her life and art what they are. Meeting her on life's pathway, one would be inspired by the face that somehow gives out the message of a bright May morning, pouring its influence over the strong hills of her native New England.
Her work expresses appreciation of the every-day-ness of things at hand; of climatic conditions without and spiritual conditions within. Not one in thousands would think of taking a charcoal to depict the spotless snow that
"Had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night,
Was heaping field and highway
With a silence, deep and white."
But that is what Lillian Westcott did with consummate skill. In fact, it seems to be snowing yet, partially veiling the "Old Dedham House," and giving exquisite values to the intervening trees. This effect is produced by her individual method of working, a sort of line engraving giving a dry point appearance. While her work is soft, it is strong and clear. Her work in oil colors is equally effective, because of the same technique, and her color schemes most attractive and rich.
In early years when talent was budding and ambition soaring, Lillian Westcott met the crux of a lifetime from the lips of her mother—should it be music or art that her work and wealth of thought should be devoted to? Today we see the result of her decision, after two days of thought.
Mrs. Hale's first teacher was William M. Chase, who has been a great developer of native American talent. It is evident that she had talent, and after watching her work for some time, Mr. Chase said frankly "that he was afraid to interfere with what she was doing." He felt that she had unusual gifts, and was in sight of a goal formed in her own mind, and her technique was her own. At the instigation of Mr. Chase, Mr. Edmund C. Tarbell became her next teacher, but as supervisor only, for like Mr. Chase he would not impose his art upon her, but left her free to work out her own art instinct. While studying in Boston, Miss Westcott was in the lecture classes of Philip Hale, who proved an enthusiastic helper. Thus three understanding artists have assisted in the development of a distinctive artist and her art.
Lillian Westcott Hale was born in Hartford, Connecticut, December 7, 1881. She studied with William M. Chase, Edmund C. Tarbell, and Philip Hale, and is a member of the Association of Federated Arts of Boston, and the Associated Artists of Concord. She is represented in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Arts Club, and the Corcoran Gallery, at Washington, D. C.
The Metropolitan Museum, New York, has an effective canvas representing "Celia's Arbor," an out-of-door problem of sunlight on white. The young girl in white reclines in a deck-chair, a white umbrella softening the direct sunlight. It is a masterly work. In contrast is a portrait of the mother of Mrs. Hale, which might be called a symphony in gray, in which the varying shades are beautifully blended.
Mrs. Hale has received numerous awards; in 1910 a medal at the Buenos Aires Exposition; a gold medal for her work and gold medal of honor at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1915; a gold medal from the Philadelphia Arts Club in 1919; the Potter Palmer Gold Medal at the Art Institute in Chicago, 1919; the Beck Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1923; and the Julia Shaw Memorial Prize, National Academy of Design, New York, 1924.Lillian Westcott Hale was one of the seven women painters of America whose work was chosen to represent American Art at the World's Fair in
OLD DEDHAM HOUSE
Lillian Westcott Hale
"A Twilight Sonata" would be dulcet music to the ear, but what to the eye is a maiden sitting alone in the open? Absorbing the glory of sunset and afterglow, her thoughts are weaving a reverie the while. An artist of poetic feeling has come upon her unseen and conveyed to canvas the silhouette of the shapely head against the fading of the twilight sky.
Other works by Lillian Genth prove that she is an artist of poetic interpretation. "Adagio," another musical tempo by name, assures one of something alluring and restful to eye and thought. "Adagio" and "Depth of the Woods" represent Miss Genth in the National Gallery in Washington, D. C.Springtime" is as bright and poyous in color and technique as needs be. It is property of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. "The Lark," minus the song, cheers the Engineers' Club in New York; and "The Song Bird" is in Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. "A Pastoral" is in Brooklyn, "Venice" and may be seen in the Philadelphia Arts Club, and in a dozen other art centers the work of this artist is on view.
In the winter of 1926-27, Miss Genth, combining pleasure and art, took her sketching kit to record the scenes and motifs to be gleaned in Northern Africa. Her harvest was great in paintings, sketches, color schemes, and experiences. It was an extraordinary trip for a woman to venture upon alone, but for Miss Genth it proved safe and successful, owing to her courage, perseverance, and level head.
Many of her pictures represent the veiled women of Algiers, Tunis, and Morocco, in street, mosque, or doorway. The statuesque appearance of their white-draped figures, seen against the intricate carving and rich mosaic walls, form a most attractive orientalism. Bedouin girls and Arab merchants are interesting as humans, and as couleur ardet. More of her canvas work will be seen later.
The preparation for the manifold paintings by Lillian Genth began in the Pennsylvania School of Design for Women, under Elliott Dangerfield, and was continued in Paris under James McNeal Whistler. Miss Genth is an associate of the National Academy since 1908, and of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; she is also a member of the Royal Society of Artists of London. Many prizes have resulted for her work: the Mary Smith Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy, 1904; the Shaw Memorial, 1908; the bronze medal, Buenos Aires Exposition, 1910; the Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design, 1911; and others.
Miss Genth is not confined to any convention, nor has she mannerisms, but works with great freedom.
A few years ago she spent some time in Spain, where she fell in love with color and gave more freedom to her brush work. Finding fresh inspiration in a new country she originated many subjects, using models at hand. The names of a few of her Spanish paintings will, in a measure, convey the mind to that oriental country, to "The Kashbah," "Old Arch, Morocco," "Arab Quarters in Tangiers" and "A Window in the Alhambra," but minus the wealth of color.
To appreciate with understanding the paintings from Miss Genth's well-trained brush, we quote a paragraph from Miss Lena McCally concerning the painting of the nude, for which Miss Genth has been noted: "While Miss Genth was drawing 'Woodland Nude,' 'Summer Breezes,' and 'The Glen,' she was learning the secrets of filtered sunlight, of exquisite greens in shadow and when transfigured by light, and she had mastered the drawing of the human form, and the lovely lights that play upon human flesh, so that some time when venturing into strange lands, she could take her palette and paint what pleased her, and so give us the romance of Spain and of mysterious Africa."
Some of our American artists were born a long way from home, but the call for education eventually brings them home. So it happened with one of our artists who comes near to being one of the World War painters. Felicie Waldo Howell was born at Honolulu, Hawaii, September 8, 1897, and has made wonderfully good use of her time and advantages. She became a pupil in the Corcoran Art School, Washington, D. C., and later in the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. The steps of her progress so far are memberships in the Association of National Artists, Philadelphia Women's City Club, Concord Art Association, Painters' and Sculptors' Gallery Association in 1916; a silver medal was awarded her work by Washington artists, 1921, and a silver medal the same year from the Water Color Club of Washington; also the same year the Peabody prize from the Chicago Art Institute. A bronze medal from the Washington Artists was awarded her in 1922, and honorable mention at the State Fair at Aurora, Illinois, in 1922.Miss Howell's work shows rather unusual subjects: "A New England Street" is in the Corcoran Gallery; "The Return of the 27th Division" is also in Washington, the National Gallery; "The Avenue of the Allies" is in the American Legion Building, Gloucester, Massachusetts; "Gramercy Park, New York" is in Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis; "The Flower Woman" is owned by the
Owned by Mrs. B. S. Roberts, Birmingham, Ala.
"PALMETTO AND CYPRESS"
Water-color by Alice R. H. Smith
Her work speaks for her inclination toward historical interests, also for indefatigable industry. She is one of the younger women in art, whose unfolding it will be interesting to watch.
Miss Lucie Hartrath is a Bostonian by birth, but circumstances transplanted her westward after her return from Paris where she studied with Rixens, Courtois, and Collin. She was also a pupil of Angelo Jauk in Munich, in which city she was made a member of the "Kunstlerine."
Lucie Hartrath belongs to the comparatively small number of American landscape painters among women, and her chosen subject has brought her much fame, for many landscapes, either in the fresh greens of June or the dun and brilliance of "October Morning," have merited the prizes they have won for the artist, and an artist she certainly is in landscape painting.
The Butler prize was hers at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1911, for "Midsummer," and from that time annual prizes have been her reward for conscientious work from various exhibitions. The Rosenwald purchase prize of $200 for "The Leafy Screen" in 1915; the Carr Landscape prize for "Summer" in 1916; the Star prize of $200 at Terre Haute, Indiana, and the prize at the Hoosier Salon, 1926, and others.
The pictures by Miss Hartrath show her appreciation of nature's coloring and harmony, which she uses, rather than the inflated tones that are the fashion of today; and that is well, for as a rule harmony is omitted from fashion.
Her pictures are all phases of the wide out-of-doors. "The Oaks" portray their native dignity. "Indian Summer" and "The Valley In October" carry the charm and restfulness of autumn wherever they may go.
Some years ago the writer had an hour to wait for a train; the Chicago Art Institute being near, it seemed an inviting place. The exhibition represented the works of local artists. It was before the extension galleries had been built across the tracks, and the exhibits were in the South galleries of the main building.
On entering the first large room, we confronted a distinguished-looking gentleman hat in hand, as if he paused to let us pass in front of him. The next instant we discovered he was in a frame. His overcoat was black with collar and cuffs of dark, deep fur, painted as only the old Dutch Masters painted fur, soft enough to put your fingers in; his hair was slightly gray, the face remarkable for strength and refinement of features suffused with the spirit of kindness and good will. Apparently he had just come from the next room, between the portieres of deep, wine-colored plush. The accidental note in the color scheme was the touch of rich blue in the necktie as in the eyes. It was a masterly piece of work, and the painter's name was Marie Gelon Cameron.
Mrs. Cameron has done some fine heads, interesting studies and still life. She was born in Paris, France, and studied with Jean Paul Laurens Cabanel, and Benjamin Constant. "Mending the Net," exhibited at St. Louis in 1904, is interesting. "Hallow'een" shows a charming young woman, a pan of delicious apples held in both hands. "Juliette" is an original ideal. The latter is owned by the Lake View Woman's Club. The "Portrait of American Diplomat," Mr. Gustavus Howard, received manyat the Paris Salon and the Chicago Art Institute.
Many of the women we have considered have had fathers with more or less art instinct, the daughters having first encouragement from them. There have been very few exceptions that prove of interest.
The Middle West and South have an artist whom Oklahomans are delighted to honor. Nan Sheets was the fortunate girl whose mother was a cultured artist, giving her daughter first lessons in drawing and painting. After graduation from High School the practical mother suggested another course, and the daughter became a pharmacist. It proved a course with a practical meaning to an artist, for painting accessories are now far from the pigments used three and four hundred years ago, the pure colors of which still hold.
Mrs. Sheets is a hard worker, with a home to keep and studio calls and painting to monopolize her time. But she is the high light in the art world of Oklahoma, and is wholly unselfish.She was born in Albany, Illinois. Her art studies have been with John F. Carlson, N. A.; Everett L. Warner, A. N. A.; Robert Reid, N. A.; Berger Sandzen, Hugh H. Breckenridge, N. A.; Nelle Knopf and Kathryn Cherry. Mrs. Sheets is an active exhibiting member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors; The North Shore Art Association, Gloucester, Massachusetts; Southern States Art League, and the Association of Oklahoma Artists. A canvas was invited for the "Casa Alta" at Altman's of New York City the past winter; another to be exhibited at the Art Industry Exposition in Cleveland, Ohio. Nan Sheets received a special Sandzen Landscape prize at Broadmoor Academy, Colorado Springs, Col., also the purchase prize awarded at the Midwest Artists' Exhibition at Kansas City. Mrs. Sheets writes on art for the "Oklahoma Woman" and other magazines.
From Artists with whom she has studied she has gleaned much, and yet more from personal experience. For a number of seasons she has motored to and through New England and Nova Scotia, taking an art-loving friend, and sometimes her white bird dog. This beautiful way of viewing nature, with freedom to stop and sketch when and where one may choose, is a great privilege. When one is technically equipped it is more than a delight, it is like living in another world.
"The Road To the Sea" shows a broad, sweeping view of land and water; simple and broad in the handling, from the rocky hillside where you seem to stand, to the distant horizon, there is no palliating detail, yet nothing is lost. Trees, shrubs and rocks, light on the water, sun and shadow of clouds help one to feel the unseen breeze. Yes, you can see now and again the winding road, ever lowering toward the water, yet higher on the canvas, showing her consummate skill and knowledge of perspective.
"A New England Homestead" tells of another phase of peace. A quiet afternoon when sun and shadow rest like a blessing on the quaint and ample house. You know it has been a home for generations; your imagination fills it with phases of home life. Culture and ambitions have been nourished there. Greetings and farewells have sounded or softened to major or minor music of young or old. Thousands of thoughts crowd heart and mind as one looks. Her color is clear and strong. Her exhibitions have been most educational in a state so far from art influences, and the artist is doing her best just where she is, for the culture of art in her own state.
Mary Stewart Dunlap was born in Ohio, but is counted as a landscape painter of California. After preliminary study in New York she spent four years in Paris, between the Academies Delecluse and Whistler. An individual exhibition of her work at the American Club before leaving Paris presented some interesting studies from her summer's work in Brittany and Normandy. She studied and sketched in and about Florence and Rome before her return to America. She remained in New York a few years before deciding on California as her home and on landscape as her chosen subject. Her accumulated sketches, from abroad and her native land, have given a wide and varied range for her art.
Pauline Palmer is a painter who has successfully helped to maintain Chicago as an art center of the Middle West. The result of her brush work has radiated far beyond that center for some years. She was born at McHenry, Illinois, October 11, 1870. She became a pupil of William M. Chase, Charles Hawthorn, and later, in Paris, studied with Collin, Courtois and Simon. Her painting and subjects are refined and interesting. Miss Palmer's work in Paris was rewarded by a silver medal, a bronze and two honorable mentions. In Chicago the Marshall Field purchase prize was hers in 1907. Her pictures are true to life. Two in particular, "Sad Thoughts" and "Sad News," impress one as realities that the artist had come in contact with, so remarkably well are they painted. At the St. Louis Exposition was a more delightful subject, "Just Before Candlelight," also "A Girl With a Silver Ball," and "A White Shawl." These brought the artist a bronze medal, but more recently Pauline Palmer has painted "Mother's Wedding Gown," that has claimed universal praise and pleasure, not only because of its good technique, but the sweetness, the naturalness, the suggestions of times long passed. The artist has painted a "Little Boy" sitting on the floor, a dear little fellow, who might almost be called the American Blue Boy.
Mrs. Anna Lee Stacy has long been known through the Middle West and farther, for her interesting landscapes and figure pieces. Our landscape painters among women have been so rare that we cannot afford to lose her from the rank of out-door workers, even for the sake of adding her name and productions to the still smaller list of flower painters.
Mrs. Stacy was born in Glasgow, Missouri, September, 1865. She was a pupil at the Chicago Art Institute, and later at the Delecluse Academy, Paris. She is a member of the Chicago Society of Painters and Sculptors and of the Chicago Woman's Club. A number of prizes have acknowledged her work as true and artistic—the Chan prize of $200 at the Field Exhibition in 1907, and the Carr Landscape prize in 1912; the Logan Bronze Medal, 1921, and others of later date. She has not done much in marines, but a "Spanking Breeze" is a refreshment where it hangs in the Chicago Woman's Club. "Moonlight in the Guidence, Venice," is characteristic of Venetian waters, and speaks well for the artist from the walls of the Kenwood Club, Chicago. "Trophies of the Field" is one of the treasures of the Union League Club, Chicago, and the purchase prize from the Chicago Art Commission was given to Mrs. Stacy in 1914 and 1924. Some of her best works are "A Village" and "Twilight, in Florence, Italy," and "An Old Church at Anvers.
More recently she has turned her attention to flowers en masse, and has accomplished fine effects, proving her a genius in composition and tonal relations. At the Arts Club, Chicago, she has shown a large gathering of thistles and larkspur, or "Blue Lace," and a most unusual arrangement of still life that is very beautiful. A courtyard scene in the old country is interesting in composition and charming in color. The door of the cream-colored house opens on the level with the stone paved court-yard; a flowering vine graces itself over door and window. Three women are gossiping at the corner, their dark gowns accenting the darkest shades on the canvas, the high light being the sunlight on the house. A good composition and not "patchy" in the handling; before the war she called it "In Days of Peace."
Concerning Painters of Flowers
Numberless women have painted flowers with more or less skill in color and grouping, and with more or less individuality in the technique of the artist and in knowledge of the flowers.
Whoever has observed the numerous flower pieces in the various art galleries of Europe must have been impressed with the exquisite daintiness of petal, stamen, the corolla with its drop of honey, the leaves jeweled with dew-drop or lady-bug, the prickly stems, the ribs and velvet on the underside of the leaves, and their varying shades of green. The detail is intricate in nature and wonderful as a work of art.
The Hollanders are garden-making, flower-loving people, so it is not surprising that they were the first and most conscientious people to portray the flower creation in art.
Margareta Haverman (1720-1795) was well known as a flower painter in her day. We have already referred to Rachel Ruysch of Amsterdam, and her remarkable painting of flowers. In the eighteenth century, Sirani of Italy had a second daughter who was considered wonderful in this branch of art. Doubtless there were others whose names were not recorded, but in Poligny, France, we find Eléonore Escallier in the nineteenth century did very beautiful flower painting. England, past and present, considered flower painting woman's pastime rather than a branch of art with a large A. Hence that country has furnished a number of good artists for that subject, more especially in water-colors, but the surprising fact is that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the men of England have chosen floral subjects leaving women in the minority, if one may judge from exhibitions. Katherine Cameron has painted some exceptionally delicate and beautiful water colors; a bowl of white roses seem as fragile as the roses themselves, and a vase of tea roses bear the same hallmark of rare understanding and technique.
Flower painting is not a subject for impressionists, unless painted by the acre in the far west of the United States.
We have seen very attractive flower paintings from France and Belgium. From her studio in Ghent, Mrs. Clemence Jonnaert sent a strong yet delicately manipulated picture of "Peonies" to the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, and a second canvas of iris, so abundantly cultivated in the Netherlands. A mass of poppies from the studio of Miss Louise Laridon, of Antwerp, is worthy of recall at this later date, because it is—and always will be to Americans—the flower of Flanders' Fields. They are beautiful where they grow, where they cover as a blanket the Braves of the A. E. F. where they sleep.
Flowers are tempting to every human. They were made to beautify the earth and human life. Whoever uses color is tempted to try his hand on duplicating the brilliant or delicate colorings on perishing paper or canvas. And that is well, it has a refining influence, and influence is not so perishable as what they practice on, or as the flower the Great Artist has created.
There is an innate refinement in the soul and mind of a man who wants a flower in the lapel of his coat. You can trust him.
Mme. Lisbeth Devolve Carriere, of Paris, has a taste and a genius for making art productions of roses and orchids and other delicately constructed creations, and her productions are choice. Choice, too, are the flowers Mlle. Jeanne Lauvernay paints.
In America there are also numberless women who work at the floral subjects, but there is fashion in flowers as well as in hats and shoes so far as women and florists are concerned. However, there have been a few unusually fine flower painters in this country. Mrs. Tenana McLennan Hinman is said to be a rival of Paul de Longpre, which is high praise indeed. Miss Mabel Key, a descendant of Francis Scott Key, author of our national anthem, was acknowledged as a genius in painting flowers, but before her time she died. Before her life went out she had an exhibition of some thirty of her paintings.
Not everyone who uses paint can paint orchids. There are thousands of varieties of that tropical parasite and many of their blossoms are wonderfully beautiful. So when we hear that an artist paints orchids remarkably well, we may know that the artist understands the structure of her complicated subject—that she is a botanist as well as an artist.
The azalea, especially the wild, pink variety, has as many or more difficulties for the artist as the orchid, its blossoms being in a more clustering form, resembling somewhat the honeysuckle.
A little toddler of two and a half years was left with her grandmother on a Sunday afternoon while the parents strolled up a spur of a Vermont mountain, taking their way along the edge of an uncut wheat field. Reaching the upper edge of the field, they paused for rest and the view. Through the tall wheat there was a moving line, yet no wind to cause it. For more than half the distance the grain was parted to let a small creature pass before the father and mother discovered it was the child they had left behind. She made a bee-line for them, but assured of their company, her unbounded delight was the masses of pink azaleas along the rail fence and among the great boulders, just a long, irregular covering of the mountain side with exquisite bloom, prodigal alike of its beauty and fragrance. The child could never forget that vivid experience. It has added to the beauty of living.
Miss Key was an artist who painted most acceptably those difficult flowers. A few names will give an idea of her ability: "Iris and Tulips"; whoever loves the glories in shades would delight in "Red Phlox"; "Consider the Lilies" seems indeed a sacred flower among her flowers; "Lilies and Hydrangeas" made an effective composition, and her roses of yellow and white bespeak them queen of flowers.
Mabel Key was born in France, of American parents, in 1874. The Academy of Fine Arts of St. Paul, Minnesota, conferred honorable mention on her water colors in 1915, and the following year her flowers won the silver medal at the same academy. In 1917 the Art Institute of Milwaukee made honorable mention, and in 1919 she was granted a silver medal also.
Lucille Blanche, seemingly, throws a complexity of colors on her canvas and then picks out in strong tones flowers in the foreground that do her great credit. Not always does she use this method, as with a bunch of fluffy asters in a decorated pitcher on a checked table cover, seen against a paneled wall—her first method is far more effective.
In contrast to the above, Agnes Pelton paints flowers as she would a portrait, single blossoms in gorgeous colors and exquisite texture. It matters not how brilliant or how dainty the hues, her work is known as a truthful likeness and a lovely picture.
Isabel Whitney paints in the style of our grandmothers' day, accurately, even meticulously, which tends almost to primness.
Yet another contemporary artist with flowers is Mary Prindeville. She paints on glass with black beneath, producing an artistic effect, but the flowers do not seem to be at home. Some are well painted, but the environment suggests craftsmanship.
Mary Townsend Mason, Grace M. Haskins, and Bessie Helstrom are some of the younger painters of flowers who are showing good work.
Miss Anna Lynch is one of our finest miniature painters, but her wonderful ability in painting flowers compels classing her also as a most successful artist in this charming branch of art.
There is a large number of good artists painting most attractive flowers, but space compels mention of only a limited number.
Anna Airy is an English painter of fruit and flowers, not for mere effect of color, but for the intrinsic value of detail. A single flower, a spray of leaves with fruit or blossom, is a thing of beauty from her drawing board or easel.
A cluster of May flowers, or hawthorn, painted natural size, impresses one as a new beauty in this world of infinite beauties. She works mostly with water colors. A spray with three or four plums and a few leaves, worm-bitten and half-curled, she called "War Time." You look and ask why? Wasps are making war on the plums; two wasps are sucking from a hole they bored in the skin. So perfectly are they drawn, the work reminds one of the microscopic painting of the Dutch masters. You discover part of the body and wing and stinger of another wasp getting his fill from the other side of the plum. A mosquito is caught in an almost invisible net of a tiny spider.
Her flowers are painted with exquisite care and color, with never a hard stroke. They are soft enough for the wind to move them—a strong contrast to the majority of pigment flowers.
People who have lived long enough to have a memory of their grandmother's gardens would "simply love" "The Flowers From a New England Garden," as massed in an old-fashioned vase, and painted by Laura D. S. Ladd. Painted so you can call them by name: double and single peonies, poppies, larkspur, fox-glove, clove pinks and phlox—you can almost catch their fragrance.Leonide Lavaron was born in New York of French parents, but most of her life has been spent in Chicago. There she studied with H. G. Maratta and later with Paul Tanquary. Maratta and Louis Millet were of the greatest help to her developing work.
At the Columbian Fair, 1893, her painting had honorable mention. Her best work seems to have been flowers. About twenty years ago she took up metal work, designing, and then silver work and jewelry, all of which has been of much help to her. Her designs have been most unusual, to the extent of carrying her name with them. Roses have ever been her special delight in painting, and many have brought back orders for yet more. Other flowers have marked her line of work with real success.
- International Studio.