Eve M. Kahn (Photo: Katherine Lanza)
Eve M. Kahn
Forever Seeing New Beauties
October 14 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm
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Former New York Times ‘Antiques’ columnist Eve M. Kahn presents her book Forever Seeing New Beauties: The Forgotten Impressionist Mary Rogers Williams, 1857-1907 (Wesleyan University Press), inspired by the 2012 discovery of a trove of paintings and letters in a Connecticut boathouse.
Williams was a Connecticut baker’s daughter, bicyclist, bon vivant, intrepid European traveler, feisty resister of misogyny, and exhibitor of paintings and pastels from Paris to Indianapolis. Kahn describes how her accidental research discovery has shed light on a circle of undeservedly obscure women innovators. The emergence of Mary’s story has made many people wonder, how much other evidence of women artists’ work and words is waiting to be discovered?
Williams trained at the Art Students League and with artists including James McNeill Whistler. Starting in 1888, she ran Smith College’s art department and, in every spare moment, traveled in Europe. While biking and hiking from the Arctic Circle to Naples, she sent home witty letters detailing spectacular passing landscapes, political scandals, religious processions, befuddled Americans abroad and art world rules that favored men.
Kahn’s book luminously reproduces Williams’s under-appreciated paintings, with foresightedly proto-modernist wispy brushstrokes. Williams captured pensive gowned women, Norwegian slopes reflected in icy waters, saw-tooth rooflines on French chateaus, and incense hazes in Italian chapels. Kahn also offers a vivid portrayal of Williams’s equally adventurous friends, who defied their era's expectations for women intellectuals.
Kahn explains, “I’ve never tired of telling people about Mary's accomplishments and feistiness and the flukes of fate that led me to her papers and paintings and to families of people who knew her.”
Join us for the fascinating unfolding of the artist's story!