Friday, July 6, 2012

Frances C. Lyons Houston 1851-1906 & New Hampshire's Cornish Art Colony

Frances C. Lyons Houston (American artist, 1851–1906) Summer

Frances C. Lyons Houston was born in Hudson, Michigan in 1851. As a young woman she studied in Paris at the Academie Julian with Jean-Leon Gerome, Gustave Boulanger & Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. Upon her return to America in 1874, she married William C. Houston. Mrs. Houston, primarily a portrait painter, was awarded bronze medals at both the Georgia International Exhibition of 1895, & the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo. She also was awarded a medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904.  For her portrait of Cavaliere Francesco Mancini, the Societa Artistica Napolitana elected her its only woman member.

In 1891, the Houstons moved to Cornish, New Hampshire where they quickly became beloved members of the artist colony. Frances Houston entertained regularly at her home, "Crossways," & became active in local affairs. She was one of the organizers of the Mothers & Daughters Club in Plainfield, & she helped found the Mothers & Daughters Rug Industry.

The Cornish Art Colony had begun with the arrival of Augustus Saint-Gaudens 6 years earlier, in 1885. Cornish was one of the earliest art colonies in the U.S. Like their counterparts in Connecticut, New York, & Massachusetts, the Cornish art colonists were attracted by the area's natural beauty plus the mutual encouragement & intellectual stimulation offered by resident artists.

The Cornish Art Colony began with the generosity of Charles Cotesworth Beaman, Jr., a successful New York lawyer & patron of the arts. Beaman began buying land in the declining Connecticut River farm communities of Cornish & Plainfield in the 1880s & by his death in 1900, held nearly 2,000 acres, which he rented & sold to artists. Beaman succeeded in convincing Saint-Gaudens to rent a dilapidated house on his property for the summer. Saint-Gaudens continued to rented the house, known as "Blowmeup Farm" or "Aspet," until finally buying in the year Frances Houston arrived in 1891.

Edith Prellwitz (1864-1944), Landscape - Cornish, New Hampshire, 1890s

Painters arriving in Cornish before 1895 included George de Forest Brush & Thomas Dewing. Brush lived in a tepee on Saint-Gaudens' field in 1887 & subsequently rented from Beaman, while Dewing rented in 1886, before buying a house from Beaman the following year. Others who followed included painter Henry O. Walker; architect, painter & etcher Charles Platt; painter & etcher Stephen Parrish & his son, illustrator & painter, Maxfield, & painter & art critic Kenyon Cox, all of whom came to the colony, bought land & built residences in the 1890s. Some, including sculptor Daniel Chester French; painter, John White Alexander, & sculptor, Paul Manship came only for a few summers. President Woodrow Wilson, who made author Winston Churchill's "Harlakenden House," which burned in 1923, a summer White House from 1913 to 1915.

President Woodrow Wilson with Margaret, Mrs. Ellen L. Wilson, Eleanor, Jessie, and Wilson.

By 1905, there were as many 40 families who were resident at least part of the year & a number who remained year-round. The Colonists arrived in 3 stages: artists & sculptors in the late 1880s & early 1890s; writers in the 1890s; & lawyers, doctors, politicians & the wealthy after about 1905. Settlers included:

Adeline Adams (1859-1948), writer
Herbert Adams (1858-1945), sculptor
John White Alexander (1856-1915), painter
Robert L. Barrett (1871-1969), writer & explorer
Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959), actress
Ernest Harold Baynes (1868-1925), naturalist & writer
Charles Cotesworth Beaman (1840-1900), lawyer
John Blair (1875-1948), actor
George de Forest Brush (1855-1941), painter
Witter Bynner (1881-1968), poet
Winston Churchill (1871-1947), writer
Kenyon Cox (1856-1919), painter & art critic
Louise Cox (1865-1945), painter
Herbert David Croly (1869-1930), writer
Maria Oakley Dewing (1845-1927) painter, writer & photographer
Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), painter
Francis Duncan (1877-1972), writer & horticulturist
Peter Finley Dunne (1867-1936), writer
John Elliott (1858-1925), painter
Maud Howe Elliott (1854-1948), writer
William I. Evarts (1818-1901), lawyer & statesman
James Earle Fraser (1876-1953), sculptor
Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), sculptor
Henry Brown Fuller (1867-1934), painter
Lucia Fairchild Fuller (1872-1924), miniaturist
Frances Grimes (1869-1963), sculptor
Learned Hand (1872-1961), jurist
Norman Hapgood (1868-1937), publisher & essayist
William Howard Hart (1863-1937), painter & designer
Elsie Ward Hering (1871-1923), sculptor
Henry Hering (1874-1949), sculptor
Robert Herrick (1868-1938), poet
Louise Homer (1871-l947), opera singer
Sidney Homer (1864-1953), composer
Frances Lyons Houston (1851-1906), painter & goldsmith
William Henry Hyde (1858-1943), painter & illustrator
Samuel Isham (1855-1914), painter & art critic
Grace Lawrence (1871-1940), musician
Ernest Lawson (1873-1939), painter
Annie Lazarus (1859-?), patron, writer
Philip Littell (1868-1943), writer & publisher
Percy MacKaye (1875-1956), poet & dramatist
Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937), sculptor
Paul Manship (1885-1966), sculptor
Helen Mears (1872-1916), sculptor
Williard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925), painter
Langdon Mitchell (1862-1925), dramatist
William Vaughan Moody (1869-1910), writer
Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960), writer & horticulturist
Robert Paine (1870-1946), sculptor & technical innovator
Anne Parrish (1878-1966), sculptor
Lydia Austin Parrish (1872-1953), music historian
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966), illustrator & painter
Stephen Parrish (1846-1938), painter & etcher
Ernest Clifford Peixotto (1869-1940), painter & writer
Maxwell Evarts Perkins (1884-1947), editor
Charles A. Platt (1861-1933), architect, painter & etcher
Arthur Henry Prellwitz (1865-1940), painter
Edith Prellwitz (1865-1944), painter
Otto Roth (1866-1954), musician
George Rublee (1868-1957), lawyer & diplomat
Juliette Barrett Rublee (1875-1966), dancer & patron
Annette Johnson St. Gaudens (1869-1943), sculptor
Augusta Homer Saint-Gaudens (1848-1926), painter
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-l907), sculptor
Carlota Dolley Saint-Gaudens (1884-1927), painter & miniaturist
Homer Saint-Gaudens (1880-1958), art critic & museum director
Louis St. Gaudens (1854-1913), sculptor
Everett Shinn (1873-l953), painter
Florence Scovel Shinn (1869-1940), illustrator
Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869-1950), landscape architect
Louis Evan Shipman (1869-1933), dramatist
Clara (Potter) Davidge Taylor (1858-1921), interior decorator
Henry F. Taylor (1853-1925), painter & theorist
Henry O. Walker (1843-1929), painter
Laura Walker (1857-1929), designer of textiles & photographer
Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), painter
Arthur Whiting (1861-1936), musician & composer
President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
Marguerite Thompson Zorach (1887-1968), painter & designer of tapestries
William Zorach (1887-l966), sculptor & painter

Arthur Henry Prellwitz (1865-1940) Mt. Ascutney

Mount Ascutney, rising 3,320 feet across the Connecticut River in Vermont, was a dominant theme & inspiration for many of the artists' works & their residences. Most of the Cornish Colony residents were located in a 3 mile radius in the northwest corner of Cornish & the southwest corner of Plainfield.  Homes usually were sited to maximize views of the majestic mountain & the Connecticut River valley.

Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) The Mountain - Mt Ascutney. Freer Gallery, Washington DC

The Colonists fostered intellectual & artistic life in the region by supporting the towns' libraries, by encouraging participation in local dramatic productions, & by stimulating interest in beautifying the towns. Lasting improvements include the stage backdrop by Maxfield Parrish which decorates the Plainfield Town Hall, & the Meriden Bird Club & Sanctuary, organized in 1910, by Ernest Harold Baynes, the first institution of its type in the nation. The Mothers' & Daughters' Club in Plainfield was begun in 1897, at the suggestion of Colony women "for the mutual improvement of its members," who included both Colonists & natives. The 1st such club in New Hampshire & one of the 1st in the United States, it provided a forum for stimulating lectures & for arts & crafts. Unlike mos other art colonies, The Cornish Art Colony did not center its activity on a summer art school or formal art association.

The period of greatest significance for the Colony was 1885-1930.) By 1930 the number of artists coming to Cornish had decreased significantly, although several continued to work here. Stephen Parrish died in Cornish in 1938, while his son Maxfield lived in Plainfield, until his death in 1966.