Abbott Fuller Graves (American,1859-1936)
One of the premier painters of floral still lifes and garden scenes in both the United States and Paris, Abbott Fuller Graves was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. First intending to become an architect, Graves instead chose to study art, and in 1884 traveled to Paris where he studied with flower painter Georges Jeannin. While in Paris he met fellow American artist Edmund C. Tarbell. The two traveled together to London, Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Munich and Venice. In 1885 Graves returned to Boston and became an instructor at the Cowles Art School. At that time, his close friend Frederick Childe Hassam, who was also teaching there, exerted an Impressionist influence on his work. Graves returned to Paris in 1887 where he studied figure painting at the Academie Julian. In 1891, back in the United States, Graves opened his own art school in Boston. In 1895 he purchased a home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He moved his art school to Kennebunkport, and soon began to turn his attention to figure and genre painting. Graves documented the lives of the local inhabitants–combining his new subject-matter with his love of flower and garden settings–creating colorful sun-lit garden scenes, with female figures, done in thick impasto brush strokes. He was a regular contributor to the annual show at the Poland Spring Art Gallery which had been instituted in 1895. Graves continued to travel, visiting Bermuda, South America, Trinidad, and Havana. He closed his school in 1902 and worked as a commercial illustrator for French magazines from 1902 to 1905. Graves’ work was exhibited often, both in the United States and in Paris. His artworks may be seen in many museums including: the Arnot Art Museum, the Ball State University Museum of Art and the Brick Store Museum. He was a member of many art associations, but in 1887 the artist resigned from the Boston Art Club in protest at the location of his painting “The Chrysanthemum Show” which he had contributed to the Club’s annual exhibition: During a preview of the show, Graves realized that his work had been “skied” or placed in the inconsequential area at the top of the wall. Furious, Graves procured a ladder and removed his painting, leaving the empty frame hanging on the wall. He resigned from the club before being expelled for violating the rules about the removal of artwork. . . . Due to the controversy, the empty frame was one of the most popular attractions at the Boston Art Club’s exhibition. The painting itself [later] drew considerable interest and widespread critical praise.
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