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 Mariquita Gill  (1861 - 1915)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts / France      Known for: landscape-sea-flower, and still life painting

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Ad Code: 3
Mariquita Gill
from Auction House Records.
A Bit of Our Garden,Giverny
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Spanierman Gallery:
Among the first generation of American painters to live and work in Giverny, France, during the 1890s, Mariquita Gill applied the light and coloristic concerns of Impressionism to views of the Seine Valley, depicting grainstacks and poplar trees, as well as the lush flowers growing in her garden. Upon relinquishing her expatriate lifestyle, Gill returned to the United States, where she was associated with the artistic life of Massachusetts.

Gill was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, the daughter of a New England ship captain and his wife, Mary. It has been said that her name, which means “little Mary” in Spanish, expressed “that . . . exotic quality which Mariquita Gill always had.”

Gill began her formal training in Boston, studying under the watercolorist Ross Turner during the early 1880s. Inspired by the example of her teacher, she specialized in landscapes in watercolor, working in and around Gloucester, Massachusetts. Taking advantage of the greater educational opportunities open to women, Gill went on to attend classes at the Art Students League of New York. In 1885, she and her mother traveled to Paris, initially residing in an apartment on the Faubourg St. Honoré where the painter Henry Bacon maintained a studio. Gill refined her skills as a figure painter at the Académie Julian from 1886 to 1888, but found portraying the model boring. She spent the summer of 1888 in Capri, where she continued her activity as a watercolorist. In 1889, she received private instruction from Alexis-Marie Lehaye in Paris. She also studied with Louis Jules Dumoulin in Paris and in Auvers-sur-Oise.

A turning point in Gill’s development occurred when she saw an exhibition of Claude Monet’s work in Paris in 1889, an event that sparked her interest in the bright hues and broken brushwork of the Impressionists. She made her first visit to Giverny--a flourishing art colony and home to Monet--in October of 1889, during which time she stayed at the popular Hôtel Baudy. In Paris in 1891, Gill saw some paintings by Camille Pissarro which proved to be a “revelation” and caused her to abandon her formal art studies altogether. She later met Pissarro, who critiqued her work. Gill and her mother traveled to Giverny again in the summers of 1891, 1892 and 1894. Following this, they leased a house in the village from 1894 to 1897. There, Gill cultivated a flower garden, where she and her fellow colonists would often gather for tea and jam.

Gill initially followed Monet’s example, painting views of the landscape surrounding Giverny; however, she eventually became more individual in her choice of motifs, specializing in depictions of flowers growing in the open air in which she conjoined her concern for outdoor conditions with her longstanding enthusiasm for decorative effects. As noted in a memorial tribute by a friend, her garden, replete with blossoms such as white lilies, hollyhocks and roses, “furnished an inexhaustible supply of subjects” for her brush.”  In 1893, Gill exhibited two of her Giverny landscapes, A Midsummer Morning, Giverny and A Gray Day, Giverny, France, at the World’s Fair in Chicago, and in 1897 her Fleurs de Lis was shown at the Paris Salon. While abroad, Gill was also active in Grez-sur-Loing and Aix-les-Bains in France, as well as in Geneva, Venice and St. Ives, on England’s Cornish seacoast. At some point while living in Giverny, she had a romantic liaison with the American painter Arthur Murray Cobb; the two married but divorced by 1895.

In the autumn of 1897, Gill and her mother returned to America. They spent a year in Boston, after which they settled in Scituate, Massachusetts, in a house situated near the ocean. Responding to her immediate environment, Gill painted coastal scenes, especially during the winter, as well as views of local apple orchards. She later moved to Salem, Massachusetts, but continued to travel as well: she spent the winter of 1908 in Bermuda and also made a visit to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where, drawn to the intensity of the light and the rich colors of the Southwest, she painted desert landscapes and portrayals of adobe houses.

Gill exhibited intermittently at the Copley Society, the Boston Art Club, the Society of American Artists, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1898 she had a solo exhibition of her work at the Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston, exhibiting views of Giverny and scenes of Venice that were described as being “impressionistic in effect.”

Gill died in Salem in 1915. Her work is represented in many private collections.


© The essay herein is the property of Spanierman Gallery, LLC and is copyrighted by Spanierman Gallery, LLC, and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from Spanierman Gallery, LLC, nor shown or communicated to anyone without due credit being given to Spanierman Gallery, LLC.

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