Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Maria A'Becket Branches Out in Florida

Monarch of the Glen by Maria A'Becket
A large painting by 19th century Maine painter Maria A'Becket has been discovered rolled up with 125-year-old blueprints, naturalist drawings, and other documents stowed in a corner of the boiler-room of a Gilded Age hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. 

As readers of this blog may be aware, I've been researching and writing about this once-forgotten painter extensively - I've written about her here as well. The Flagler Museum in Florida has posted an article by a local newspaper about the find. 

At approx. 24" x 45," the A'Becket painting, titled "Monarch of the Glen," which is on display at the Flagler Museum, is an important one if only for its size; Maria painted en plain air quite a bit, and she seems to have favored smaller-format artist board. It's a prime example of A'Becket's distinctive Americanized Barbizon-Impressionist landscape style. 

The Ponce de Leon under construction in St. Augustine
A'Becket was one of a select group of leading landscapists of the day, including Martin Johnson Heade, who were given studios in the Ponce de Leon hotel during the 1890s. On Friday evenings guests of the Gilded Age hotel would wander among the studios, where A'Becket is said to have been the center of the conversation.

About her own Diaz-inspired landscapes she wrote:

“There is a peculiar sadness about many of her pictures, where noble, old trees bear the marks of long, hard struggles with the elements; twisted and wind tossed, rugged, gnarled, burying their great muscular roots in the earth or clinging to the rocks. These are what she best likes to paint.”

As it happens, I'm in Orlando this week, so if I can, perhaps I'll slip away for a tryst with Maria.