Francis also joined up with them there after a summer in Boston. Lizzie hired a British girl to act as Frank Jr.’s nanny and they got to work.
|Portrait of Elizabeth Boott Duveneck by Frank Duveneck|
Cincinnati Art Museum
March days that year were full of snow; winter had rarely seemed so severe. On the Sunday the Salon jury voted in both her watercolor and Frank’s painting of her, Lizzie came down with a chill. Soon it was pneumonia and four days later, she died - on the anniversary of her wedding day, in the very room where she had been married two years before.
In a time-honored practice at the moment of death, Louis Ritter sat by Lizzie’s bedside and and carefully and sensitively drew her portrait. This precious drawing is now in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum. When we saw it in person recently, it was like being taken back to that room at that time.
|Post-Mortem Portrait of Elizabeth Boott Duveneck by Louis Ritter|
Cincinnati Art Museum
The next day Lizzie’s body was taken to a temporary resting place and, as she had requested, would be taken back to Florence in May to rest in that "beautiful country of flowers she so dearly loved" at the Allori Cemetery.
|Allori Cemetery, Florence, Italy|
At that point a cable arrived from Lizzie’s uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lyman in Boston, inviting them to bring Frankie to become a member of their family. So they sadly packed up Villa Castellani and returned to America.
|Frank and His Son in Happier Times|
The Lymans liked Duveneck and thought it unselfish of him to part with the baby. Though his decision caused him great sadness, he believed it was the right thing to do for his child.” He visited him every Christmas and spring vacation, and journeyed to Boston to see the boy in the summers, which he spent in and around the area, with visits extending over several weeks or even months. Later they travelled together in Europe. But Frankie never saw his father’s home in Covington nor his grandmother nor other Kentucky relatives until he was a young man and his grandfather had died. He only really knew his mother’s side of the family...especially since every time Frank would visit he would speak fondly of Lizzie. He shared the stories of their life together and recounted them over and over again with pride, satisfaction and humor.
|The Duveneck House in Covington, Kentucky|
Frank’s idea took the form of a bronze effigy of Lizzie to place on her tomb in Florence. This was a remarkable choice since he was not a sculptor - but then Frank Duveneck was a remarkable artist. He sought out advice from prominent sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and also had the help of his Cincinnati sculptor friend Clement Barnhorn. The clay model was completed around 1889 and from that a plaster model was made - the very one that is displayed to this day at the Cincinnati Art Museum. From that the bronze was cast and set up early in 1891 on her grave.
|Bronze Effigy at the Allori Cemetery, Florence|
|Lizzie's Marble Effigy at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
|Lizzie's Bronze and Gilt Effigy at the Met|
Was it not the perfect tribute to Lizzie?
She who loved art
was made into a work of art,
her loving face recalled in clay, plaster, bronze and marble by a man who had loved her deeply
a face upon which her beloved little boy gazed fondly as the years passed -
a face that her beloved father would remember her by -
Their own dear Lizzie...
(This series of blogs are the script for my talk, "Dear Lizzie" at the Greenacres Foundation, Oct. 19, 2013.)