|Elizabeth Boott, 1880 by Frank Duveneck|
|from Frank to Lizzie, a Christmas present, 1880|
|Portrait of Francis Boott, 1881|
Oil on canvas, 47 9/16 x 31 3/4"
Cincinnati Art Museum
- They believed Duveneck to be “illiterate” and unworthy of the well-bred, well-educated, cultured and monied Lizzie.
- He was a penniless German-American Catholic
- two years younger than Lizzie
- whose mother and father ran a beer garden
- in fact making the beer themselves in the basement of their own home
- in the uncivilized state of Kentucky.
And it wasn’t simply the difference in their social circles. Duveneck’s lack of money made Boott fear that what the painter really wanted was his daughter’s money, plus he did not want to see anybody come between himself and Lizzie.
The Boott’s closest friends predicted disaster for the marriage. One of them wrote “For him it is all gain, for her it is very brave.”
Oh, the internal conflict that Lizzie must have had! It was a devastating choice between the man who loved her or her own father who had devoted his life to her...and to whom she had also devoted her life thus far.
A letter had been passed down to Lizzie over the years originally an injunction from her mother to her little son before his death. Lizzie inherited these instructions after his loss: “Watch over him, your father, in old age, cherish, love him, desert him not...Devote yourself to him, please him in little as well as important things.” She took this charge very seriously. She could not bring herself to desert her father who had loved her so well. The engagement was broken off...and her heart was also broken.
Lizzie Boott had to leave Florence. She took off for Spain with three women friends from the Hunt class. They copied Velázquez and toured the country both painting and enjoying the art of Spanish masters.
|Girl in a Gray Shawl, 1883, by Elizabeth Boott|
Upon her return Francis and she sailed to Boston where Lizzie buried herself in her work. She and Annie Dixwell who had gone to Spain with her prepared and held an exhibition. Lizzie had thirty-one oils and thirteen watercolors of Spain and Italy in the show.
Interestingly Frank also found himself in Boston painting portraits commissioned by friends of the Bootts, and Frank had not given up on Lizzie. He was not going to let her go easily. They managed to meet up and continued to see each other secretly.
It was a very stressful situation. And Lizzie continued to keep herself very busy with her art.
|Jerry, 1883, by Elizabeth Boott|
In 1883 alone she was included in exhibitions at the American Water Color Society, Boston Art Club, National Academy of Design, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Philadelphia Society of Artists. In 1884 she had a one-person show at Boston’s Doll and Richards Gallery. A portrait of a child, Little Lady Blanche, received high praise.
Seeing these successes the Bootts resolved to live in Paris, the art center where soon she and Annie Dixwell were enrolled in the new women’s classes at the Academy Julian - and, of course, she and Frank continued to meet up.
|Academie Julian, Women's Class|
“This has been a long affair,” she wrote to an old friend in Boston, “lasting for years. The thing was given up entirely at one time, but on meeting again we find the old feeling is not dead, and we are going to make up life together as we did not like it very well apart...Send me your blessing, dear friend, and say you think I am right. I crave human interests in life. The abstract ones of art are not enough for me.”
|Frank and Lizzie's Wedding Photo|
|Lizzie, Francis, Frank and Ann Shenstone|
|Frank Jr. (F.B.D.)|
Next Installment: Tragedy Strikes
(This series of blogs are the script for my talk, "Dear Lizzie" at the Greenacres Foundation, Oct. 19, 2013.)