R. H. Ives Gammell carried on the legacy of the Boston School in his paintings, writings and teaching. As a young man he enrolled at the Museum School upon the advice of Joseph DeCamp and studied with Frank Benson, William Paxton and Philip Leslie Hale until 1913. During several summers he painted with Charles W. Hawthorne at his Provincetown studio and then spent a year in Paris at the Académie Julian. He returned to Boston at the onset of World War I and began studying privately with Paxton, with whom he continued taking lessons until Paxton’s passing.
Gammell's depiction of Mrs. Richard Cary Curtis (Anita Grosvenor Curtis) exemplifies the Boston School roots of his education and specifically the ongoing influence of his greatest mentor William Paxton, with whom he continued taking private lessons until the latter’s passing in 1941.
More information about this painting...
Anita Diadamia Grosvenor was born in Providence just two years after Gammell and married Bostonian Richard Cary Curtis in 1917 in Newport. Painted three years later, Gammell captures his subject in her mid-twenties and now fully embracing her role in Boston society as the wife of a Navy veteran, Harvard graduate and successful lawyer. Both Richard Curtis and Anita served many causes throughout the city; while he advised several institutions and held positions as Assistant Treasurer and later Vice President of the Museum of Fine Arts beginning in the 1930s, she became a benefactor of several hospitals, including sitting on the board of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and contributed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Gammell and Anita Curtis may have been cousins, and while this has not yet been confirmed, the artist and sitter likely knew each other through the prominent roles the Gammell and Grosvenor families played in Providence and Newport social circles.
This painting is framed with an original Foster Brothers frame.
Collection, Boston, Massachusetts
To Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 32086, June 1997
To private collection, Boston, Massachusetts, January 1998 to present
(in chalk on frame) CURTIS
- Previous Vose Galleries label, Inventory No. 32086
- (handwritten) Anita Grosvenor Curtis / (Mrs. Richard Cary Curtis) / Painted by R. H. Ives Gammell of / Providence, R.I. / Winter of 1920
- (on Mrs. Curtis’ stationery card) Cliffs, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts / Aug. 4, 1965 / I have given this / Portrait of myself to / Dr. Kenneth M. Graham – He can take it any time / A. G. Curtis
- Foster Brothers frame label, Boston
Ackerman, Gerald M., and Hunter, Elizabeth Ives, Transcending Vision: R. H. Ives Gammell 1893-1981 (The R. H. Ives Gammell Studios Trust, 2001), illus. p. 124