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 Edith Fairfax Davenport  (1880 - 1957)

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Lived/Active: Florida/Kansas/Missouri      Known for: portrait, mural, teacher

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Ad Code: 4
Edith Fairfax Davenport
An example of work by Edith Fairfax Davenport
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Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art:
The following is from Peter Kostoulakos, ISA ˜ Fine Art Consultant,

Edith Fairfax Davenport —painter, etcher, teacher, and lecturer — was born in Kansas City, MO on July 13, 1880 and died on November 1, 1957 while residing in Winter Park, FL. She was a relative of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and the painter of an exact copy of Whistler's "Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother", 1871.

According to "After Whistler, The Artist and His Influence on American Painting" by Linda Merrill, Davenport was Whistler’s first cousin once removed: her grandmother, Isabella McNeill, was Whistler’s mother’s sister. Painted in England, Whistler's original 57" x 65" portrait was rejected by the Royal Academy but exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1883 to mixed reviews. The French Government purchased it from Whistler in 1891 for the Musee du Luxembourg — the living artists gallery during the 19th century. The painting was moved to the Galerie du Jeu Paume in 1922 and then to the Louvre in 1925. It has been on display at the Musee d' Orsay in Paris since 1986.

Davenport's "Apres Whistler" was painted with the French government’s permission in 1906, before cleaning and restoration brightened the colors of the original. In 1925 Davenport traveled from Zellwood, Florida to the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Massachusetts to visit the birthplace of her famous cousin. In 1926 she lent the painting to the museum, visited once more on September 1, 1950 and, upon her death in 1957, "Apres Whistler" was bequeathed to the Whistler House Museum of Art.

Edith Davenport studied in Paris at the Academie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921), Louis-Joseph-Raphael Collin (1850-1916), and Ferdinand Humbert. “She is said to have been the first American woman officially admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, which did not open its doors to women until 1896.

Upon returning to the United States, Davenport studied dynamic symmetry with Howard Giles (1876-1955) and abstract composition with Hans Hoffman (1880-1966),” says Merrill. After 1930, her work was leaning more to the modern than to her academic training.

She was a member of the North Shore Art Association; Southern States Art League; Florida Federation of Art; Orlando Art Association; Mount Dora Art League; and the American Federation of Arts.

Exhibitions included the Southern States Art League, 1925, where she won a prize; Society of Independent Artists, 1925; WWI war poster, King Albert, Belgium, where she won a medal; Provincetown Art Association; Palm Beach Art League; Miami Woman’s Club, 1949, where she won a gold medal; and the Florida Federation of Art.

Davenport's work is in the collections of the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA; the Public Library in Kansas City, MO; the Public Library in Zellwood, FL; and murals at the Orlando Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art", Vol. I page 150
Ray Davenport, "Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002", page 498
"The Middlesex Beat", January 2003
"After Whistler, The Artist and His Influence on American Painting", page 172
Musee d’Orsay (Isabelle Gaetan)
Louvre (Marie-Anne Dupuy)
Whistler House Museum of Art files.
Peter Kostoulakos, ISA — Fine Art Consultant

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