Abbott Fuller Graves
House and Garden (June Morning, Kennebunk)
Signed Abbott Graves (ll); inscribed June Morning, Kennebunk on the canvas overlap
Oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 24 inches
Margaret Woodbury Strong, Rochester NY and Kennebunkport, ME
The National Museum of Play at the Strong, Rochester, NY, acc. no. 76.5427
Kennebunkport, ME, Kennebunkport Historical Society, Abbott Graves: A Fresh Look at the Artist, Jun. 4-Aug. 30, 2010
Abbott Fuller Graves is the most important painter to have lived in the town of Kennebunkport, Maine, where he first visited in 1891. In 1895, he purchased a home in the community, located in the southwestern part of the state. Settling permanently in Kennebunkport in 1905, he built a grand, Prairie-style home there the following year that he named Westlook. Graves enjoyed a successful career as a genre painter of small-town life in Kennebunkport, but he is best remembered for his floral subjects and garden scenes such as the present work. Indeed, he was considered New England's foremost flower and garden painter from the mid-1880s through the 1920s. Over the course of two sojourns in France, the native New Englander honed an early interest in flower painting, ultimately adopting a looser brushstroke and brighter, light-infused palette that reflected his exposure to Impressionism in Paris.
The undated House and Garden depicts a stately New England home, its sundrenched yard vivid with a rainbow of June flowers. Bed linens airing in the bright sunlight impart a note of spontaneity, mitigating the formality of what might otherwise be a house portrait.
In his New York Times obituary, Graves was lauded as a painter "specializing in Colonial doorways and in gardens, and for his fine still life and figure paintings."
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