|William Morris Hunt|
from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Not only did she have the rare chance to study under a man who had learned at the art school in Dusseldorf, under Thomas Couture and Jean Francois Millet, but there was something else that was delightfully different for her. She got to study art in a group setting. Up till now her education had been private. She made many friends in Mr. Hunt’s class, ones that she would keep up with for the rest of her life. Indeed there is much correspondence from Lizzie to this group that gives us a great deal of insight into her life and that of the art world then.
In 1875 there was an event that was the beginning of a big change in Lizzie’s life, a particular art exhibit in Boston. Lizzie’s teacher William Morris Hunt was also a champion of artists of promise. He promoted them and bought their work and exerted himself in every way to help them. After seeing some of 27-year-old Frank Duveneck’s work, Mr. Hunt had sought him out and invited him to exhibit in June 1875 at the Boston Art Club. Frank had sent five paintings for the show:
|Portrait of William Adams|
|Frank Duveneck painting The Turkish Page, 1877|
In 1878 when she and fellow Hunt student had spent the summer studying near Paris with Hunt’s teacher Thomas Couture, they made a pilgrimage to Frank’s studio in Venice. In a letter she wrote to her American friends, “We found him and were pleased...He is a remarkable looking young man, and a gentleman, which I did not expect. He has a fine head and a keen eye and the perceptions strongly developed.”
Almost a year later she and her father went to Munich with the hope of lessons for Lizzie with Frank Duveneck. They rented an apartment there along with a studio for her. Then with trepidation, Lizzie showed Frank Duveneck her work. She did not know whether he would accept her as a student, but was able to write soon thereafter,“Try we did and he accepted at once and is to come tomorrow to my studio. Joy! Do you not all envy me?”
|Frank Duveneck, Head of a Girl|
In fact she enjoyed both Frank and his teaching so much that Lizzie came up with an idea to bring her teacher to her own home turf in Florence. When she first suggested that he move there, he answered, “That would be very delightful, but what should I do with my boys?” There were about thirty Americans who studied under him, the Duveneck Boys. “Why not bring them along too?” she suggested. “Well, that might be done. That might be done,” he replied. His boys excitedly agreed and Frank told Lizzie that he would also like a class of ladies as well - a revoluntionary idea for that time. She excitedly contacted her friends from Hunt’s class to come out, and they did.
(This series of blogs are the script for my talk, "Dear Lizzie" at the Greenacres Foundation, Oct. 19, 2013.)