This is a detail of the painting, Chowdertown, from the new book about Charlotte. Now available on createspace and Amazon!
Deane Keller was one of the “Monument Men,” who helped to rescue masterpieces of art from the rapacity and destruction of the Nazis. He was also a well-known portraitist, Yale professor, and Paier teacher. Charlotte had him as a teacher at Yale, and I had him at Paier School of Art.
The story of his World War II actions has been documented in The Rape of Europa, by Lynn Nicholas, on PBS, and more recently in The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. Now, the Edsel book is going to be a movie, directed by George Clooney, and starring such actors as Bill Murray and Matt Damon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monuments_Men.
Fans of Charlotte will be interested to know Mr. Keller was a fan and friend of hers, as seen in the letter above. My transcript follows:
I don’t know when I have had a better time at an exhibition of fine painting than I did this past Sunday–
One thing among others that pleased me so, and which I admire, is your outlook on life–It is gentle, pleasant, perfect taste. You don’t shock people, you make them happy and you recall for them the essential virtues in this life. We need this so badly. All the paintings are consistent from this point of view.
The paintings. What can one say? Carefully composed, beautifully drawn, masterly in the technical problems–there is what we call Tender Loving Care throughout the whole exhibition–They certainly are among the best of their kind in American painting.
I can’t help but state that I , among the rest, had a modest hand in your student development–Such painting as you do in maturity makes all the student study & teaching so very worthwhile. All of us who worked with you at Yale are indeed proud and happy in your great success.
I wanted to set these thoughts down on paper, as vis-a-vis talk disappears into thin air–There is much I could say about the enormous amount of work, the continued high standards. And, to repeat, and so important, the qualities of thought and imagination that separate the painters from the artists, a sharp distinction that I’ve had for half a century. You belong to the artists.
Best all around–Deane–
This is Ives Farm, which is in Cheshire, and was formerly owned by Betty Ives. When Mrs. Ives passed away, she left it to the Cheshire Land Trust. I am shown doing a watercolor under the apple tree…which I often did. Betty didn’t have a cow, but she did have two elderly chihuahuas…The old barn had to be removed recently, but we have ample painting documentation of the place.
Lots of places led to paintings…
A handsome house and barn in Kensington, Connecticut were featured several times.This is Lilies of the Field.
The same house, in the winter, on the right. This is Starting Out.The house across the road is many miles away, in Bethany, Connecticut.
and it is featured in Timberlost Tea party.
Many times, Charlotte looked at antique photographs for inspiration. Although she was so practiced in drawing that she usually invented any figures, buildings, and settings, she found the old photos thought-provoking. Books such as American Album, edited by Oliver Jensen, and This was Connecticut, by Marvin W. Sandler, gave her ideas for new paintings.
I recently found some enjoyable photographs in the Library of Congress collections. What’s going on, we wonder. Who was in the doorway, with that nice top hat?
I added some details from a few paintings–of course, you could also look at Curve in the Square, Christmas Shopping Street, and many others!
There are a few old prints of my mother’s out there which are probably from the late 1940’s. This was a period when she was working in advertising and doing illustrations for J. Walter Thompson. Oftentimes, her ads for Textron come up on Ebay, and they feature one of her fashion illustrations on their website. Somehow, during this time, someone made prints of her work without her knowledge (or compensation.) I don’t have most of these prints or the paintings themselves, but people have sent me snapshots of the pieces. I am posting some of them, since I get many inquiries about these. Some were enlarged, which made them fuzzy (this infuriated my mother, who didn’t approve.)
She had a speech which she used to give to her students as inspiration, which summarizes her philosophy of art, and life: As a general rule, resist what is fashionable. Your work will be “modern” simply because you are alive. To try to work in a fashionable “style,” or in an admired artist’s “technique” is a certain way to lose sight of your Self—the biggest mistake you could ever make! The only thing that would ever make your paintings desirable to others, or even great, is the fact that it is yours, and no one else could possibly have done it. Some say we are all as ants in this universe—what we say, do, or feel amounts to nothing, and makes no difference one way or another. I feel strongly that this is not true. Everything we say or do affects someone else, whether we, or they, know it or not: and it’s up to each of us, as individuals, to be conscious of this fact and arrange our efforts towards the benefit of every other person and of the world in general. To proliferate evil or ugliness in any form is to drag down the dignity of mankind. Many say mankind is foolish, lazy, ill-tempered and brutal, so why bother? Yes, he is all of these things, but he is also genial, loving, patient, and heroic in the troubles he must bear. Does he not deserve the best you can give him? Can he not use the encouragement? Can he fail to respond to beauty and not be the better for it? He cannot fail to respond—even the dullest brute is calmed by beauty. You will find that when looking into the depths of your Self, you have an inexhaustible supply of fascinating pictures, unlike any that any other person can produce. The older you are, the more pictures there are. Your own experiences in living, or simply in fantasizing, brought through your brain and fingers into picture form, is certain to appeal to other people, who will recognize the content of these pictures as common to all human beings, and will be delighted by them.
My mother liked to drive up and down streets in the evening…looking in windows and seeing families having dinner, relaxing, reading the paper. Some walked their dogs, chatted, strolled up and down. One of her particular inspirations was South Main Street in Wallingford, Connecticut. It was easy to imagine turn-of the century people doing all these things in their own neighborhood…and that’s what led to Porches!