| Caroline Blommers is primarily known as Caroline Van Hook Bean
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|CAROLINE VAN HOOK BEAN|
Washington D.C. November 1879 – Washington D.C. December 24, 1980
"Of course, as you knew long ago - I am married - since last November,"
wrote American Caroline van Hook Bean in the summer of 1914 from Veere
to one of her classmates of the famous Smith College for women in
Massachusetts. "My husband was sent for hurriedly on account of a
stroke his father had – so we were married at once just as we were
about to announce the engagement!”
In December 1913, the New York Times and The New York Herald payed attention to the marriage, following which the reviewer of the Algemeen Handelsblad sardonically
wrote: “In the Society Report we see our painter, the bridegroom's
father, appear as ‘Baron Bart J. Blommers, the noted Dutch painter’.
After the marriage the young couple will go to Europe ‘to see the bride
groom's parents. Baron Blommers and his wife are arranging to
present their daughter-in-law to the Court of Queen Wilhelmina in
January, after which the entire family will go to Spain and the
Riviera.” We found this piece of American journalism too nice to not
mention it, convinced that ‘Bart J. Baron Blommers’ will be the first
Caroline and Bart Johannes Blommers (1879-1942) had met in 1912 in
Woodstock at the Summer Art League, the summer school of the New York
Art Students League, which was founded in 1906. Bart Blommers, a
son of the famous Hague School painter Bernard Blommers (1845-1914) had
studied in Leiden or Delft, but ‘the call of art’ was too strong.
Together with his younger brother Pierre, he pursued his career in
America. Caroline described her husband in the said letter as two
inches smaller than her, dark as a Spaniard and real Dutch. The whole
winter they had worked together with Blommers Sr. in his summer house,
which he was not able to leave because of his poor health. Also,
Bart and she skated – “a real Dutch sight”. They were in Katwijk
during the bulb season and made cycling tours through the area.
Caroline sent three oil sketches to Smith College and also a watercolor
of Katwijk women strolling on a Sunday afternoon. And now they were in
the historic town of Veere on the island of Walcheren, which just
celebrated 100 years liberation from Napoleon. For now, they
remained in Holland, in winter maybe in Paris or Rome, and after a
while or they would return to the United States. Caroline praised
the bells of the Veere town hall and noted: "There are artists
everywhere, the natives are quite used to us but the cows follow me
through the meadows and stare [...]."
From Veere Caroline and Bart participated in the Domburg Exhibition of 1914, both with one work. Caroline sent in A Grey Day in Veere (for fl. 200), her husband Bart Landscape (for fl. 100). Only the local paper, the Middelburgsche Courant,
noted their presence: “In Veere there are at present so many
painters. Mrs. Blommers-Bean, B.J. Blommers and Louis Bron each
sent in a picture of this small town, meritorious work but not leading
to a special attention.” The Dutch painter and etcher Louis Bron
(1884-1959) from 1908 on yearly anchored his sailboat in the harbor of
Veere. He took part in the Domburg exhibition, with Veere Harbor
(for fl. 175).
Bart and Caroline's plan to stay longer in the Netherlands as Europe
was disrupted by the First World War. It is not clear if they
were back in New York by mid-December 1914, when Blommers Sr.
died. In any case, Caroline was there in April 1915 to
participate in an exhibition.
Caroline van Hook Bean grew up in a well-to-do family; her father was a
famous ichthyologist. At the age of 14, she was sent for one year to
Paris as a promising drawing talent, to get to know the cradle of
Impressionism. She completed her education at Smith College in
1903. Then she took classes at the NY Academy of Design under William
M. Chase, and in 1907, she left for Europe to study in England and
Germany. Upon her return in 1908, she moved in with her parents
in New York. She continued to travel frequently to Europe, but
also roamed around a lot in America. Besides Chase and Blommers
Sr., John Singer Sargent in London and Harry Thompson in Paris were
among her teachers. Although she liked to concentrate on painting
street scenes, she developed especially as a portrait painter.
During her study she also made etchings - she made some of Capen and
Dewey House, Smith College -, later she practised lithography.
Her marriage to Bart Blommers lasted until 1918. Until 1921 she
lived in New York, after she returned to Washington. In 1927,
Caroline remarried to Algernon Binyon, an Englishman born in Capri;
Bart was remarried in 1920 to his pupil Vivian Shaw Kennedy.
In the few papers and letters by her that are in the archives of Smith
College, Caroline is emerging as ‘easy-going’; she is warm, witty and
casually, little interested in data, but full of life and artistic
talent, and very independent. She was fascinated by old homes and
has renovated a dozen. Her portraits were very popular, she was
never short of orders. She often participated in exhibitions and
organised one-man exhibitions. Her second marriage, which ended
with the death of Binyon in 1941, was very happy. An illustration
of this is the report in the Smith College archive of an article that The Nashville Banner
(TN) published in May 1939 on “Caroline (Bean) Binyon who, with her
husband, Capt. A.H. Binyon, and Wee Willie Winkle, her Scottie, is
having a marvelous time ‘barnstorming the USA’. They were in New
Orleans, Palm Beach or Atlanta nearly all winter and have journeyed
north for the summer, stopping in interesting places. Caroline
does portrait drawings in all theses places, and meets delightful
In 1933, Caroline felt like twenty. When she was 83, she wrote
letters like a young girl and looked thirty years younger than she was,
and when she was ninety she had a solo exhibition at the Chapellier
Galleries in New York. Under the title "New York City in Wartime",
she showed paintings from 1918 and 1919, which remind of the work of
Raoul Dufy. All exhibited works were sold. “Charming and
skillful,” wrote The New Yorker in a long column devoted to
Caroline. The reviewer referred to her work, but the observation
applies also to Caroline herself. She was a gifted artist of life, made
after a thorough training attractive and harmonious work and reached in
a happy and long life the age of 101 years. Her portraits are
mostly in private collections and her work can also be seen in various
institutions, galleries and museums in the United States.
Submitted by Francisca van Vloten
Francisca van Vloten, ‘Caroline van Hook Bean’, in: A Tender Silence and a Strong Tone: Domburg’s Ladies and Veere’s Maidens, ed. Francisca van Vloten, De Factory: Deventer 2009, 76-79.
The author's sources also include Anthony Hiss, ‘The Talk of the Town: Caroline van Hook Bean’, in: The New Yorker, April 18, 1970, 34.
N.N., ‘Miss Bean marries titled Artist’s Son: Daughter of State Fish Culturist the Bride of Bart J. Blommers. Jr.’, in: The New York Times, Dec. 8, 1913.
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following is from Sue Rice, email@example.com |
Van Hook Bean was born in 1879 in Washington, D.C. She graduated from
Smith College in 1903, and studied with John Singer Sargent in London,
Bernardus J. Blommers in Holland, and Harry Thompson in Paris.
lived in New York from 1905-1921. She studied at the St. Louis School
of Art, and the National Academy of Design with William Merritt Chase
and then returned to Washington in l921, where she had her studio in
Georgetown and was married to Algernon H. Binyon.
She died on December 24, 1980 at age 101.
|Biography from Spanierman Gallery:|
|A noted painter, etcher and illustrator, Caroline van Hook Bean was
born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Dr. Tarleton H. Bean, a
renowned icthyologist with the Smithsonian Institution and later
director of the New York Aquarium. After attending Smith College, Bean
moved to New York and began to study art at the New York Art Academy,
where she was a pupil of William Merritt Chase; among her classmates
were George Bellows, William Glackens, and Eugene Speicher. Bean
continued her training at Chase's summer school at Shinnecock, Long
Island. During time spent abroad, Bean received further instruction in
Paris (ca. 1893-94), where she studied with Harry Thompson, as well as
in Holland, where she was instructed by Bernardus J. Blommers. In London, Bean received criticism from John
Singer Sargent. |
During World War I, Bean created a series of images of wartime New York
that, similar to the series rendered by Childe Hassam, conveyed the
festive look of city skyscrapers hung with the flags of all nations.
After moving from New York to Washington, D.C. in about 1921, Bean
received commissions for portraits of many dignitaries, and she also
established a business of restoring old Georgetown houses; upon
completing work on a house, she would paint an image of it. Bean's
characteristic style was informed by the Realism of the Eight and the
bright, pure tones and lively brushwork of Impressionism.
Bean was married for the second time to English automotive engineer,
Captain Algernon H. Binyon. Throughout her career, she exhibited her
work in New York galleries and in many other cities in the United
States, including Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Her professional affiliations included the National Association of
Women Painters and Sculptors, the Society of Washington (D.C.) Artists,
the Society of Washington (D.C.) Etchers and the Washington (D.C.) Art
Club. She had one-man shows of her critically acclaimed wartime scenes
at the Mussmann Galleries in New York (1919) and the Chapellier
Galleries in New York (1970).
Bean died in Washington, D.C. on December 24th 1980 at the age of 101.
Examples of her work can be found at the Dayton Art Institute and the
National Museum of Women Artists in Washington, D.C., as well as in
many private collections.
© The essay herein is the property of Spanierman Gallery and is
copyrighted by Spanierman Gallery. It may not be reproduced without
written permission from Spanierman Gallery nor shown or communicated to
anyone without due credit being given to Spanierman Gallery.
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