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 Austa Densmore Sturdevant  (1855 - 1936)

About: Austa Densmore Sturdevant
 

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: portrait, figure in landscape, floral

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Ad Code: 3
Austa Densmore Sturdevant
An example of work by Austa Densmore Sturdevant
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Victoria Saunders-Pinnick who knew the family of the artist:

BIOGRAPHY:
Austa, fifth daughter of Amos and Priscilla Densmore, was born in Blooming Valley, Pennsylvania. She lived in that area until her family moved to New York City in the 1870's. Her father was a pioneer, along with his brother in the recovery and transport of oil, as well as development of the typewriter.

Austa received a B. A. degree from Allegheny College in 1876 and was awarded an M.A. degree in 1879. She married James Warner Sturdevant; they had two daughters, Eloise and Winifred. Eloise married Robin Dale Compton and had one son, John and two daughters, Clarissa and Winifred.

Austa Densmore Sturdevant wanted to become a professional portrait painter and began taking classes at the American Art Students League in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and participated in two summer outdoor classes taught by Theodore Robinson - which was her first experience en plein air. Her prior instructors were Mr. Beckwith and Mr. Mowbray By this time she had done a number of figure studies, portraits and florals. Now with the Robinson influence she took her figures outdoors.

With her husband's blessing and her daughters in tow, she departed for Paris to study and travel throughout Europe to study the masters. She studied from
1895-1898 with Raphael Collin, a well-known artist of the day who held classes both in his Paris studio and en plein air at Fontenay-Aux-Roses. The first year she exhibited in the Paris Salon (1895) and was awarded Honorable Mention for her painting "Portrait of a Lady." In subsequent years she exhibited "The Lady Blanche" and "Castles in Spain."

Her work at this time was large, colorful, and luminescent. Characteristic features and gestures of her subjects are carefully observed by her, and her work is referred to as lustrous luminosity with a fine sense of color and well-balanced composition.

Returning to the United States, Austa Sturdevant bought a large property in Cragsmoor, New York, 300 acres in all. She built a dream home with a large studio. There was a rather grim looking boarding house on the property that was soon changed into a grand hotel named The Cragsmoor Inn. Her painting at this time was involved with commission work and family.

Cragsmoor was a very suitable choice, as an artist's colony had established itself on the edge of the picturesque Catskills not far from the Hudson River. Summer houses were built beginning in the 1870's by many artists of the day such as, Charles Curran, Frederick Dellenbaugh, Edward Gay, E.L. Henry Eliza Greatorex, George Inness, etc.

Austa Densmore Sturdevant did build her dream home at the edge of a steep cliff called Bear Cliff and it stands today. She was architect and supervisor of the home, written about in Harpers's Weekly. It was uniquely designed with features that she desired from European structures that had impressed her. Her family, daughters and granddaughters retained land ownership in Cragsmoor until the 1990's.

Her works have been on exhibition 1979-1980 throughout New York State and Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania 1988. In addition to major museums, she has works reposited with the Governor's Mansion, Albany, New York; the Crawford County Historical Society in Meadville, Pennsylvania; and the Cragsmoor Free Library in Cragsmoor, New York. Most pieces are with family, private collection, or in institutional collections.

For researchers: the majority of historical information is located in the New York State Museum in Albany and The National Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C. In addition, The Cragsmoor Free Library, Cragsmoor, New York. For a pictorial history" Austa Densmore Sturdevant "- Published 1996. 26 pages of sketches, watercolors, oils, also family photos and a short history.

PUBLICATIONS

"Austa Densmore Sturdevant" 1996 Catalogue of works; pictorial catalogue of oils, sketches and watercolors. Photos and brief biography. Victoria Saunders.

"Cragsmoor, an Early American Art Colony" by Barbara Buff. THE MAGAZINE ANTIQUES, November 1978.
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Note from Victoria Saunders-Pinnick relative to the portrait image on the Summary Page for this artist:

The subject, the gentleman in the portrait was, along with his brother, and Mr. Shoales, the developer of the modern, now almost replaced, typewriter. Amos Densmore is his name. In the background you can see the typewriter.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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