This painting by Mary R.Dewing is oil on canvas board measures 9×11 inch. It is part of the Farhat Art Museum collection. In this painting is a figurative portrait of a young woman smoking a cigarette at a social event. This type of social butterfly, woman was called a debutante.
Born in New York City, Maria Oakey Dewing was a descendent from her father of Gilbert Stuart. Her mother was an upper class Bostonian who wrote for Scribner’s magazine. She studied painting at the Cooper Union School of Design for Women and with John LaFarge at the National Academy of Design. She also studied in Italy, London and France. In 1875 she participated in the formation of the Art Students League.
In addition to her artistic pursuits, Maria wrote articles poems and three books during the late 1870’s and 1880’s. According to her biographers, Maria Oakey’s ambition to be a figure painter was curtailed by her marriage to Thomas Wilmer Dewing in 1881. When the Dewings moved to Cornish, NH in 1886, Maria working from her flower garden in their home named Doveridge, took a special interest in botany and the structural make-up of flowers.
She won medals at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893) and at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo (1901), and then in 1907 earned a one-person exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, a very rare honor for a woman at the time. Despite her success, Maria Dewing painted relatively few works, which rarely become available (two florals done in Cornish were sold at auction by Sotheby’s in New York in 2000 and 2001 for over a million dollars). It is estimated that she painted about one-hundred works in her lifetime, fifteen of which have been located at this time.
She is in the permanent collection of the following museums: the National Gallery of Art, the Addison Gallery of American Art, Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary, the Hood Museum, the High Museum of Atlanta, the Detroit Art Institute, and the Art Museum of Western Virginia.
Biography from The Parrish House Museum