Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mrs. Elizabeth Boott Duveneck

In 1886 Duveneck was married to Miss Elizabeth Boott of Boston, herself a painter of distinction. Miss Boott was born in Boston, and, having lost her mother while still a very young child, was taken by her father to Florence to live with two of her aunts. Later she went to Paris to study painting with Couture and lived with his family. At the age of eighteen, she came to America and studied with William Morris Hunt, who had been a pupil of Couture before falling so strongly under the influence of Millet.

About this time Duveneck's one-man show was held in Boston and was greatly admired by Miss Boott; so much so that she induced her father to purchase the portrait of Mr. Adams, which is now in the Cincinnati Museum.
"Portrait of William Adams" 1874

Duveneck's various portraits of his wife reveal a character refined, womanly, and at the same time marked by firmness, and this latter quality was clearly demonstrated in the present instance. Miss Boott determined not only to own the portrait of Mr. Adams, but to study with the man who had painted it. Accordingly she and her father sought out Duveneck in Munich in 1879, their cab drawing up at the door when he was in the very act of closing his studio to go to Polling, Bavaria. She having got so far, it is not remarkable that the young artist's lack of enthusiasm over teaching a young girl should have been overcome, so he advised her to paint for a while in Munich, but gladly offered to criticise her work on his return. The sequel to this story was their engagement which, however, did not result in marriage until nearly seven years later. They were married in Paris in 1885 and spent the two brief years before her untimely death in Florence, in a villa on the crest of a hill overlooking the city. She died in Paris and lies buried in the Allori Cemetery in Florence, where the memorial figure in bronze, which Duveneck created for it, marks the spot. A son, Frank, survived her. [He went to live with relatives in Boston. Elizabeth's father had a copy of her funerary effigy made in marble and displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston so that her son, family and friends could go and see it.]

A copy of Elizabeth's funerary effigy created by
Frank and Clement Barnhorn, and his final portrait of her
at the Cincinnati Art sad~

Mrs. Duveneck possessed great talent. Her watercolors and canvases, among them powerful studies of figures and landscapes, but chiefly of still life, place her without effort among artists of achievement.

"Apple Tree Branches," 1883 by Elizabeth Boott Duveneck
at the Cincinnati Art Museum

* from Norbert Hermann's book, "Frank Duveneck." The full text is available free online: