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 Martha Brownlee (MBF, MFS) Forrest  (1892 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: still life painting

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Martha Brownlee Forrest Somerville is primarily known as Martha Brownlee (MBF, MFS) Forrest

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Ad Code: 4
Martha Bronlee Forrest
Untitled
oil on canvas, 12x20, signed initials

Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Martha Forrest is only one of many late 19th century women artists whose promising careers were short-lived and almost completely undocumented.  Christened Martha Brownlee Forrest, she was born on July 3, 1892, in Boston, Massachusetts.  She was the eldest daughter of John and Jean (Torrance) Forrest.

Despite retaining several examples of her work, mostly still life’s, the family knows little of the details of her life.  It is known that she lived in Quincy, Massachusetts and studied art somewhere in Cote d’Azur, which we know as the French Riviera.  She signed her work with very stylized initials; first with MBF, and after her marriage as MFS.

By the time of the 1920 census, she had married to Rae Ambie Somerville and they were living in Quincy, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.  They adopted one son, John, and another was born to the couple in 1926.  Her husband died at the young age of 37 in March of 1929.  After her marriage, she produced little in the way of artwork, other than a few pictures of her children’s homes later in life.  Anecdotally, when she was younger, she had scarlet fever and was pronounced dead, yet when the undertaker was about to embalm her he realized she was not.  

Much later in life she married Frederic B. Lythgoe who preceded her in death.   She died at the home of her sister in Osterville, Massachusetts on February 15, 1956.  Quite typically, her obituary mentions nothing of her artistic interest or capabilities.

Information provided by the Quincy Public Library, Reference Department; census records and correspondence with the family. 

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Researcher, East Lansing, Michigan


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