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Art Intrigues

From Providence to Paris

While Pat Massiello loved to paint the Washington Bridge in Providence, fellow Rhode Islander Lester Hornby (1882 – 1956) went to Paris to paint the iconic Paris, Pont Neuf Bridge. The oldest standing bridge across the Siene in Paris, started under Henry II in 1550.  Lester Hornby is one of those remarkable RISD graduate print makers little known among many collectors.

More on Lester Hornby in a Betty Minor Duffy essay for Georgetown University.

The Art of Lester G. Hornby (1882-1956)  Lester G. Hornby (1882-1956) is one of the surprising number of early 20th century American artists who achieved great acclaim during their vital years and yet lived to see their works, during the ensuing decades, largely neglected. That condition is now being reversed for many of them.

In Hornby’s case, during the past five years a catalogue of his prints has been published and a number of exhibitions of his work have been mounted. Georgetown’s exhibition, which features a complete set of his World War I etchings of 1918, includes some of Hornby’s best.

Hornby received his early training at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He then journeyed to Paris where he developed his technique further at the major art academies there. Hornby’s progress was rapid; he received his first international recognition in Paris in the prestigious Salon d’Automne of 1907.

Completely captivated by Paris and the French countryside, Hornby spent most of his productive years in France, returning intermittently to America. In his latter years, he played an active role as teacher and artist in the Rockport art colony, dying there at his cottage in 1956.

Hornby’s style and technique lie within the Whistlerian tradition. Hornby printed all of his own etchings, experimenting with the subtleties of plate tone as a means of enhancing mood in his images. Several of his etchings are in color, one of which is in this exhibition. Most of his etchings were produced during the first two decades of this century.

Understandably, his dominant subject matter is Paris and the French countryside – typically incorporating a pronounced human element. In addition to his World War I collection of prints, this exhibition includes a sampling of his images of Paris, and the Cape Ann region.

Hornby’s works are well represented in major public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Corcoran, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, Bibliotheque National in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Cathy @ 7:07 pm

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THE Washington bridge!

Pasquale Masiello (1912 – 1987), The Washington Bridge in Rhode Island.

The first Washington Bridge was built over the Seekonk River in 1793. It was a covered drawbridge that connected Fox Point in Providence to Watchemoket Square in what is now East Providence. Since then several replacement spans were built along this stretch of the river. Today, you can walk across the Seekonk River on a section of the original 1930’s bridge that has been preserved.

Do a gallery drive by and see this painting on view in the window display!

Cathy @ 10:38 am

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Edna Lawrence 1898 -1986…wanderlust

Edna Lawrence(1898 – 1986) taught at her Alma Mater, Rhode Island School of Design for over 50 years. Wow!

Every summer she would hop on a ship to explore, in this case a quick jaunt to Barbados. She would sketch and collect nature lab artifacts then onto fall exhibits at the Providence Art Club documenting the visual journeys from her summer adventures.

Cathy @ 8:35 pm

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Trending Now – NY Art Student League

Trending Now: The art world is not unlike the fashion world – giant marketing efforts by auction houses lead the way to create demand for various types of art. It is always fun to look at what is trending in the auction, art fair and gallery markets.

What I think is strong and consistent trend is Art Student League Graduates

While Rhode Island School of Design remains one of the most prestigious art schools in the country, many 20th Century RISD graduates gravitated to the ever present art “mecca”, New York City. The New York Arts Student League has always attracted some of the most provocative and thoughtful artists of their time from American impressionist William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916) to modern painter Georgia O’Keefe (1887 – 1986). Rhode Island artists who thrived in that world included Mabel Woodward (1877 – 1945), James Herbert (1873 – 1941) and Louise Marianetti (1916 – 2009). Check them out.

  1. Mabel Woodward (1877 – 1945) adopted the plein-air technique of her mentor William Merritt Chase. Italian Countryside, Watercolor 8” x 11”                                                            $2,800.


After a series of early accomplishments in her career, it was a predictable scenario that Mabel Woodward would rise to become the most prominent Rhode Island woman artist of the late 19th and early 20th century. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with highest honors and received the first prize scholarship ever offered for ability, industry and conduct. She then went on in 1898 to study under Kenyon Cox and Frank Deuveneck. Following tutelage at the Art Student’s League in New York, two pieces of her work were selected for the Paris exposition. It was in 1900 that she returned to Providence to teach at Rhode Island School of Design and her success as an artist continued.

Mabel Woodward received recognition as a painter of figure and landscape. Her work was classified in 1938 by Frank Sisson, art critic for the Providence Journal, as ” A kind of impressionism…..or a development of impressionism to a more descriptive painting.” Her painting illustrated very happy phases of nature and her special talent lay in capturing outdoor color and light. Of particular note was the way she captured the sky in beach and summer scenes.

Throughout her lifetime Mabel Woodward would charm the art community both locally and nationally.   She exhibited at the National Academy in New York, Chicago Art Institute, Boston Art Club, and The Rockport, Ogunquit and South County Art Associations. She was also a regular exhibitor at the Providence Art Club as well as an active member.

  1. James Herbert continued the figurative tradition of Kenneth Hayes Miller. Joe with Mandolin, Watercolor 10” x 8”, $1,200.


Born in New York City, Herbert lived in Manhattan and studied at Columbia University during his youth. He attended the Art Student’s League of New York from 1920-1923, and again from 1926-1929. While there he studied with eminent artists such as Frank Drummond and Kenneth Hayes Miller. He joined a “coterie of intelligent, socially interested and humanly alive artists” such as Reginald Marsh and Isabel Bishop. As Reginald Marsh was attracted to painting of the social theatrics of New York daily life, Herbert painted from a more personal and psychological perspective, capturing the “performances” of individuals. Dancers and theatrical figures were his subject matter.

  1. Louise Marianetti excelled at the egg tempera technique of William Palmer. Ballerina Back Stage, 1949, Tempera on Board 24 x 14”, $1,800.


Louise E. Marianetti, born in Providence, RI, was a talented painter known for her egg tempera, oils, pastels and drawings. After her professional art training graduating from RISD in 1936 and attending the Arts Student League until 1939, she enjoyed a long and productive career painting and exhibiting her work. The artist garnered critical reviews from the Providence Journal, New York Times and Fort Worth Star. She is listed in Who Was Who in American Art.

Marianetti is distinguished for her exacting technique and refinement of the egg tempera medium, a tribute to the early Renaissance artists. Her realistic approach transcends to a worldly realm that leaves viewers with the impression of a super real or magical mysticism. Leaving egg tempera behind in later artistic life, Marianetti showed her versatility and command of the pastel medium establishing a strong collector base and exhibiting frequently.


Cathy @ 10:55 am

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Painting of the Week – George Whitaker


George William Whitaker (1840- 1916), The Hayride, Oil on Canvas 26” x 36”              $2,800.

This painting is a remarkable Barbizon inspired landscape by George Whitaker. A student of George Inness, Whitaker painted expressive landscapes with big skies. There is a strong contrast between dramatic skies painted with free and forceful brushwork. The workers are headed home on top of the Hay wagon after a day’s work. This painting is a tribute to the honor and dignity of the laborers of the land.


George William Whitaker, was best known as a tonalist landscape artist, as well as a painter of fruit still-life and seascapes. He was respectfully called the “Dean of the Rhode Island Artists” for his stewardship of the fine arts in that community.  He was also an educator, becoming the first instructor in oil painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Whitaker was orphaned by age 2, and raised by

his maternal grandparents in Providence, RI. Attending Providence public schools, his talent at drawing was noticed. By age 14 he spent his youthful years as part of a Utopian community near Red Bank, New Jersey, known as “North American Phalanx”. He was apprenticed to his uncle, an engraver, in New York.  His artistic career started later than most as he worked as an engraver in New York City until age 31.

During his time working for his uncle the engraver in New York City, Whitaker became interested in painting. He began studying with the painters of the Hudson River School, and was mentored by the renowned landscape artists George Inness and Alexander Wyant. In 1870 he accompanied Inness to Europe, and went to study with Hungarian painter László Paál at the Julian Academy in Paris. Whitaker was heavily influenced by the painters of the Fontainebleau forest region in France, later known as the “Barbizon School”. Whitaker was a devotee of the Barbizon School throughout his life. Rather than depict nature as a background, they elevated natural scenes to be the subject of the artwork, with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. In later life, Whitaker was not a fan of the more modern art movements coming out of Europe. He never abandoned his tonalist style. Whitaker exhibited at the National Academy in 1867 and 1869 and the Providence and Boston Art Clubs throughout the 1880s.

George Whitaker’s excellence in art is equaled by his contributions to the development of the nascent Rhode Island art community.  He shared studio space with renowned Rhode Island artist Sydney Burleigh in Burleigh’s Fleur-de-lys studio building. He wrote articles for the A.E. Society, a club for professional men which he organized. He actively offered art critique for multiple providence and rhode Island publications. He was instrumental in recognizing the need for an organization to nurture and support professional artists within the state.  In 1880, the Providence Art Club was formally founded by Whitaker and his colleagues Edward Bannister and Charles Walter Stetson. The club provided a professional association with fellow artists as well as a public forum in which to present their work.  Whitaker was also a founder of the Providence Water Color Club. Whitaker also played a significant role in the 1877 founding of the Rhode Island School of Design, as was its first instructor of oil painting.

His paintings are in many significant Rhode Island collections including the RI School of Design Museum, the RI Historical Society, the Providence Art Club, Brown University and the Moses Brown School. His work is also in the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Cathy @ 10:55 am

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