Edith Dyer Leffingwell (1891-1934), American
"Inner Harbor, Gloucester, Mass." 1922
oil on board, 10 in. x 8 in.
(framed dimensions: 12.5 in. x 10.5 in.)
signed lower right: "Leffingwell"
This painting is a little gem, a nicely executed view of Gloucester harbor on an overcast day. The artist employed short staccato bristle strokes to lay in the colors: lavender and grayed down blues in the sky and water, with eye catching notes of color and impasto: the red of a dock building, ocher of lowered sails or nets on deck of the central vessel along with a dash of white representing its hull. That the artist had talent and had developed her skills is apparent.
The painting is faintly inscribed in pencil on the reverse of the artist's board: "The Inner Harbor Gloucester Mass" and below that: "Edith Leffingwell 1922". I was not able to uncover as much as I would like about the artist but I did find just enough to give a rough idea of her life. She was born in Watkins Glen, New York in the Finger Lakes region, in 1891. She apparently had a twin sister, Ada Nicola Leffingwell. In 1910, when both were 19, they were living in Cleveland, Ohio in the household of their uncle and aunt Charles and Ada Nicola. Both women graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. in 1913. Edith published numerous poems in the Smith College Monthly, such as this stanza from "The Storm" (1911): ""Oh ever-rushing, woeful waves / That chill the heart of me / Now yawning, wild and calling, / Now staggering and falling, / The great ghosts of the sea!". In 1913, The Smith College Monthly reported "Ada and Edith Leffingwell are living at the Studio Club in New York and studying Music and Art". The two sisters were listed by the Smith College Alumni Quarterly as living at 10900 Magnolia Drive, Cleveland, Ohio in 1917. By November, 1919, the Smith Quarterly reported: "Edith Leffingwell is studying at Columbia and Art League, New York City, Address 70 Morningside Drive" (upper West Side, Manhattan). In 1920, Edith was listed as a boarder living at 3 West 83rd St., New York, working as a saleslady in embossing. In November 1921, Smith College reported: "Edith Leffingwell is exhibiting paintings and has had an engagement singing with the Opera Co.". The following year, 1922, American Art News noted: "At the recent show of Washington Artists at the Corcoran, among the sales were 'The Schooner' by Alice Acheson, 'At Laguna Beach' by Mrs. L. McD. Sleeth, and 'Turkish Curtain' by Edith Dyer Leffingwell. The last named work received the highest price". Edith only lived 12 more years, passing in 1934. Her sister Ada lived to the age of 95, passing in 1986. Both were buried in the Nicola family plot in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland. I have been unable to find any records of Edith's paintings selling in the past, save one nice harbor scene sold in 2005 which was listed as the work of Lucia Dodge Leffingwell but may well be Edith's work. She had talent and it is intriguing to wonder the whereabouts of her paintings such as "Turkish Curtain".
The painting is in very good condition. The painting is of a misty, gray day; I do not believe there is much, if any surface grime. The paint layer is in excellent condition with no craquelure present. The carved wood and gilt frame is attractive in good condition with expected wear for its age. The wear is unobtrusive and primarily in the corners. The frame appears original and bears a label on the reverse: "M. GOLDBERG Manufacturer of PICTURE FRAMES 323 West 45th Street New York City".
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Edith Dyer Leffingwell painting "Inner Harbor, Gloucester, Mass.", oil on board
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