Graves’ passion for flowers and gardens dovetailed with his lifelong interest in architecture, specifically the doorways of Federalist and Colonial Revival homes of Kennebunkport and other historic New England towns. Dappled in sun- or moonlight and flanked by blossoming shrubs and trees, these paintings found ready collectors who shared the artist’s belief that art should bring pleasure to the viewer, a sentiment expressed by his friend, the artist George Alfred Williams, who acknowledged Graves’ “gift to see in the every-day things around him those eternal beauties which can make his work permanent because of its true appeal to the appreciative soul of all humanity.”
 Abbott Filler Graves 1859-1936, exhibition catalogue, The Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, Maine, 1979.
More information about this painting...
Flickering Shadows was acquired by Margaret Woodbury Strong in the late 1950s, and it is easy to understand what attracted her to the composition. Mrs. Strong was an avid gardener herself, participated in both regional and national floral arranging competitions, and had a summer home in Kennebunkport, where she first began collecting Graves’ work. This particular painting exemplifies the artist’s penchant for rendering the play of sunlight on a scene, here wonderfully filtered through an unseen tree, casting a fascinating silhouette on the stately doorway and flowering bushes. One can’t help but feel a sense of hospitality and warmth awaits beyond the door.
Estate of the artist via Mrs. Graves
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 10406, November 1936
Returned to artist’s daughter, June 1947 (Mrs. Graves passed in 1944)
Eventually to collection of Margaret Woodbury Strong, Rochester, New York, ca. late 1950s up to her passing in 1969
Eventually to the Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York, conceived by Mrs. Strong and officially opened to the public in 1982
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. AFG-13, June 2001
To private collection, Boston, Massachusetts, October 2001 to present
1). (top stretcher in pencil) #15
2). (top stretcher in ink) 76.5439 (Strong Museum’s acq. number)
1). Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. AFG-13
2). Old handwritten sticker top stretcher: Flickering Shadows / Abbott Graves / - (rest is torn)
3). Old handwritten sticker top stretcher: Vose
4). William Macbeth Gallery stamp with handwritten nos.: 6876
1). Charleston, West Virginia, Art Association, Exhibition of American Paintings, from the Macbeth Gallery and Milch Galleries, New York City, held at the City Library Building (Charleston, W. Virginia), February 8 – 16, 1930, No. 24 Flickering Shadows
2). Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Abbott Graves A.N.A., Vose Galleries, Boston, January 26 – February 13, 1937, No. 15, Flickering Shadows
3). Abbott Graves (1859-1936): Garden Masterpieces, Vose Galleries, Boston, October 4 – November 30, 2001, illus. p. 6 of catalogue