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Maria Oakey Dewing

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10/27/1845 - 12/13/1927

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Best known for her rendering of flowers, Maria Oakey Dewing began her career at 17, painting still lifes and portraits early on. She studied at Cooper Union School of Design for women in 1866 then continued her studies afterward at the Antique School of National Academy of Fine Arts from 1871 to 1875. There she studied with John LaFarge, who influenced her fascination with Japanese aesthetics and passed on his love of flowers. In 1881, she married Thomas Wilmer Dewing, a portrait painter, and her paintings focused on still life scenes and floral depictions. However, despite her husband’s less well-established career, she began to become overshadowed in his work. She and her husband spent summers in the Cornish Art Colony in Cornish, New Hampshire, where they kept a garden. She is known to work on the floral renderings in her husband’s paintings; however, she often did not co-sign them. Dewing was also an established writer who wrote books and articles about aesthetics in painting, etiquette, and housekeeping. One of which, published in Art and Progress in 1915, Dewing spoke to Modernism, writing about abstraction in floral compositions.

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