Friday, June 21, 2013

Painting Polly

Beatrice Whitney Van Ness "Polly Saltonstall Painting"  private collection
Beatrice Whitney Van Ness (1888-1981) grew up in Massachusetts and attended the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, studying under artists Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell.  She was a highly proficient student, winning numerous prizes and being appointed to the teaching faculty immediately after her own graduation. Upon marrying and starting a family, her interests broadened and became additionally concerned in the field of art education for children. She founded a pioneering art department at a private school outside of Boston which became a model for some of the earliest art education programs in public schools throughout the country.  Residing in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, she and her family spent every summer in Maine, where she painted intensively, bringing back sketches and unfinished canvases for later completion. Many of her works are set on or near the water as a result and she developed a particular flair for portraying the effects of sun and water reflections on a subject's face.

Van Ness won many major awards and exhibited frequently in galleries and museum shows during her lifetime. Her work is now in the collections of such venerable institutions as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is said to have painted vigorously right up until her 91st birthday.

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