Amanda Brewster Sewell

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Amanda Brewster Sewell
Lydia Amanda Brewster Sewell, Self-portrait.jpg
Self-portrait, 1904, National Academy of Design[1]
Born Lydia Amanda Brewster
(1839-02-24)February 24, 1839
North Elba, New York
Died November 15, 1926(1926-11-15) (aged 87)
Florence, Italy
Nationality American
Education
Known for Painter of portraits and genre scenes
Notable work(s)
  • Arcadia, mural
  • The Sacred Hecatomb, painting
Awards See Awards section below

Lydia Amanda Brewster Sewell (February 24, 1839 - November 15, 1926) was a 19th-century American painter of portraits and genre scenes.[2] Lydia Amanda Brewster studied art in the United States and in Paris before marrying her husband, fellow artist Robert Van Vorst Sewell. She was one of only four women to exhibit a significant number of paintings at The World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and one a bronze medal for her mural Arcadia. She continued to win medals at expositions and was the first woman to win a major prize at the National Academy of Design, where she was made an Associate Academian in 1903. She was vice president of the Woman's Art Club of New York by 1906. Her works are in several public collections.

Early life[edit]

Lydia Amanda Brewster, the daughter of Benjamin T. Brewster and Julia Ann Washburn Brewster,[3] was born in North Elba, New York[4] on February 24, 1839. Sewell painted William Brewster a Mayflower passenger and one of her ancestors, when she was a young girl.[5]

Education[edit]

In 1876, Sewell studied in the antique class of the National Academy of Design.[5] She studied with Swain Gifford and Douglas Volk at the Cooper Union, the Art Students League of New York under William Sartain and William Merritt Chase[5][6] In Paris, she studied under Tony Robert-Fleury and William-Adolphe Bouguereau at the Académie Julian;[5][6] She also studied at Émile-Auguste Carolus-Duran's atelier and in 1886 exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time[5] and again in 1887 and 1888.[3]

Marriage[edit]

She married Robert Van Vorst Sewell, a painter, on April 12, 1888.[5][3] He was born in 1860 and became an Associate National Academian in 1901.[7] The couple lived on Long Island, New York in the Fleetwood House in Oyster Bay.[5] designed by her husband. He learned to be a sculptor to create wood carvings and sculptures for the house, fashioned after Medieval designs. American Homes and Gardens said it was among the country's most notable residences.[8] They were on the Social Register in 1918.[9] One of their sons, William Joyce Sewell, married Marion Brown, the daughter of artist Bolton Brown.[10]

Career[edit]

After having completed her studies in Paris, Sewell opened a studio in New York. The painted portraits, including Mrs. Peter Cooper Hewitt, Mrs. Helen Jennings Ranger (wife of Henry Ward Ranger), Mrs. Flora Bigelow Dodge (wife of John Bigelow Dodge}, and her husband, Robert Van Vorst Sewell. She was also a decorative painter.[5] The National Academy of Design said that her "artistic tendencies were stimulated by the mountain scenery around her home and before she received any instruction she attained considerable facility in the use of color."[5]

In 1888, Sewell won the Norman W. Dodge Prize at the National Academy of Design.[3][11] She was one of only four women to exhibit a significant number of paintings at The World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.[12] Included in the eight works she exhibited was Arcadia, a side mural for the Hall of Honor of the Woman's Building, for which she was awarded a Bronze Medal.[5][13] Kirsten Swinth says that "Amanda Brewster Sewell's Arcadia displayed her ability to paint the human figure, develop complex compositions, and manage the subject matter of history painting."[14] Other works exhibited include Pleasures of the Past, Sylvan Festival, Mother and Son and By the River.[15]

Sewell exhibited A Pastoral, A Sylvan Festival, and Pleasures of the Past at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibition between December 21, 1896-February 22, 1897.[16] She won a bronze medal at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, a silver medal at the 1902 Charleston Exposition in South Carolina, a bronze medal at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition,[3] and the Thomas B. Clarke prize for best figure composition at the 1904 National Academy of Design exhibition in New York for The Sacred Hecatomb.[17] The painting, called an "important" work by The Independent,[18] depicts dancing Greek maidens and children leading a procession of cattle to the sacrifice. Harper's Weekly commented, "These joyous figures, moving in a leafy glade into which the sunlight filters, are charming in color and rhythmic movement, and as a piece of admirably conceived and executed decorative painting it stands alone in the collection."[19] She was the first woman to earn a major prize at the National Academy.[20]

Her self-portrait was a Associate National Academian (ANA) diploma presentation on March 7, 1904;[5][21] It was also exhibited with in the National Academy of Design Portraits exhibition held by the National Arts Club in 1916.[5] By 1906 she was vice president and member of the selection jury of the Woman's Art Club of New York, which was formed in 1890 as a social club for women interested in art and as a forum to exhibit women artist's works.[22]

Death[edit]

Sewell died in 1926 in Florence, Italy.[23] Her husband, Robert Van Vorst Sewell died in 1924, also in Florence.[24]

Collections[edit]

Columbia University
Farnsworth Art Museum
  • Portrait of Julie and Jackie, c. 1913[26]
National Academy of Design
  • Robert Van Vorst Sewell (1860 - 1924), c. 1901[27]
  • Self-portrait, 1904[1]
  • Portrait of a Woman (Mrs. Helen Jennings Ranger), 1906[28]
University of the South, University Art Gallery
  • Portrait of Mrs. Louise Claiborne-Armstrong, 1921[29]
Williams College Museum of Art

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Amanda Brewster Sewell, sitter and artist, 1904". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ Bénézit, Emmanuel (2006). Dictionary of Artists, Vol. 12. Paris: Edition Grund. ISBN 2700030826. 
  3. ^ a b c d e John William Leonard; Albert Nelson Marquis (1910). Who's who in America. Marquis Who's Who. p. 1718. 
  4. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G. Heller (19 December 2013). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. p. 2552. ISBN 978-1-135-63889-4. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l David Bernard Dearinger (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826-1925. Hudson Hills. p. 498. ISBN 978-1-55595-029-3. 
  6. ^ a b Falk, Peter Hasting, editor (1999). Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975, Vol. III. Madison, CT: Sound View Press. ISBN 0932087558. 
  7. ^ American Art Annual. MacMillan Company. 1911. p. 48. 
  8. ^ Barr Ferree (1909). "Homes of American Artists: Fleetwood by Robert V. Sewell, ANA". American Homes and Gardens. Munn and Company. pp. 482–487. 
  9. ^ Social Register: Contains the Summer Address where it Differs from the Winter Address of the Residents of New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland ... [etc.]. summer .... Social Register Association. 1919. p. 258. 
  10. ^ "Swell-Brown (wedding announcement)" 9. American Art News. October 23, 1920. p. 4. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ American Art Directory. R.R. Bowker. 1898. p. 265. 
  12. ^ Smithsonian American Art Museum; National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution) (1993). Revisiting The White City: American Art at the 1893 World's Fair. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0937311014. 
  13. ^ Maud Howe Elliott (1893). Art and Handicraft in the Woman's Building of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Boussod, Valadon & Company. p. 35. 
  14. ^ Kirsten Swinth (2001). Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930. UNC Press Books. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8078-4971-2. 
  15. ^ Kurtz, Charles M. (1893). Official Illustrations From the Art Gallery of The World's Columbian Exposition. Philadelphia, PA: George Barrie. 
  16. ^ Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1896). Catalogue of the Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture. p. 36. 
  17. ^ Public Opinion. Public Opinion Company. 1903. p. 79. 
  18. ^ The Independent. Independent Publications, Incorporated. 1899. p. 902. 
  19. ^ John Bonner; George William Curtis; Henry Mills Alden, Samuel Stillman Conant, John Foord, Montgomery Schuyler, Richard Harding Davis, Carl Schurz, Henry Loomis Nelson, John Kendrick Bangs, George Brinton McClellan Harvey, Norman Hapgood (1903). Harper's Weekly. Harper's Magazine Company. p. 46. 
  20. ^ Kirsten Swinth (2001). Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930. UNC Press Books. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-8078-4971-2. 
  21. ^ "National Academians - S". National Academy. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ Club Women of New York. Mail and Express Company. 1906. p. 97. 
  23. ^ "Artists & Architects: (Lydia) Amanda Brewster Sewell 1859-1926". National Academy. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Artists & Architects: Robert Van Vorst Sewell 1860 - 1924". National Academy. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  25. ^ "William Robert Ware". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Portrait of Julie and Jackie, 1913". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Robert Von Vorst Sewell, 1901". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Portrait of a Woman (Mrs. Helen Jennings Ranger), 1906". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Portrait of Mrs. Louise Claiborne-Armstrong, 1921". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  30. ^ "William Dwight Whitney, 1895". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Amanda Brewster Sewell at Wikimedia Commons