Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mary Macrae White

Today's offering is fine wood block print of horses with natives against a north african ? landscape. My immediate reaction when first seeing this at a market was Mabel Royds. No, it is signed Mary Macrae White.

Sadly there is little information out there on this artist, although some recent research has raised more questions than answer ? more of that later. First of all what we do know. She was born in Aberdeen as Mary Macrae and was married to James Martin White (1857-1928), a Liberal Party politician from 1898 until 1912. The references books list her as a figure painter living variously in London, Dundee and Edenbridge in Kent from c1910. She exhibited from 1893 until 1919 including works at Glasgow Institute of the Fine Art (1 work), International Society (1), London Salon (3), Nottingham City Art Gallery (1), Royal Society of British Artists (2) and at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (1).

The wikipedia listing for her husband states that after their divorce (his infidelity) Mary went on to became a successful artist in America but does not provide any detail. I was able to trace a touching letter by commercial artist Antonio Petruccelli, one of her former students in whilst she taught ? at Greenwich House, New York in which he describes her as a "not-too-well-known-painter" (click on the letter to enlarge and read). Greenwich House was and still is a charitable organisation with the mission "to help individuals and families lead more fulfilling lives by offering social and health services, cultural and educational programs, and opportunities for civic involvement to New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds."

Antonio Petruccelli was a talented commerical artist and illustrator, whose was responsible for many of the front cover artwork used by the Fortune magazine. Here are a few to illustrate his talent.

As I often find myself saying - these artists lead complicated lives !

Here is an odd twist - if I have interpreted the article correctly. There is an eBook available to read online of Poems by Henry Bryan Binns (1873-1923) titled The Wanderer and other Poems, published in 1910. In which there are two poems under the title "For two pictures by Mary Macrae White". Amazing not only has she inspired people to paint; her pictures have inspired poetry. Below are the poems - I wonder where these pictures are now.

Henry Bryan Binns is described as Fruit grower, poet, author, founding force of Letchworth Garden City. Wrote biography of Abraham Lincoln for Everyman series and for sometime lived in Kent. Which is 2 miles up the road from Edenbridge, where Mary lived before moving to New York

The Clearing

CLEAR me a little space among the trees,
April will brim it up with primroses.
Nay, as with ruthless axe you pluck adown
This coppice, silver-grey and purple-brown,
Ere yet the January sun hath found
Time to evoke a new leaf from the ground,
Even already then, your clearing fills
With blossom delicate as the blue hills
And sweet as the wild wisdom that distils
Among the old leaves sodden in tlie mire, —
— The wayward smoke of the woodcutter's fire.

The Gipsy's Looking-Glass.

For you, it is a pool among the trees
That you could scoop (almost) between your hands,
A little black pool, bordered with green grass :
But some who look upon it as they pass,
And how it opens inward and expands
Wizardly, — cross themselves : for unto these
It hath a magic mightier than the sea's,
Old witchcrafts manier than the moonlit sands.
And it is called " The Gipsy's Looking-Glass."

As you can see, I have struggled to find any other photos to illustrate this posting - I thought I had when an old auction listing came up - Mary Macrae, Watercolour, inscribed artist's label verso, "Water Daisies, Staffhurst Wood" , sadly it dated back to 1996 and no photo. Staffhurst Wood  ? amazing; Turn right at the end of my road and I'm there. I run through the wood most days and it is not too far from Edenbridge.

A few twists and turn in this little bit of research - Scotland to New York to Home ?
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