1970s Reproduction Textured Print of 1895 Garden in May by Maria Oakey Dewing, Rococo Style Frame


This reproduction of the 1895 painting "Garden in May" by Maria Oakey Dewing (1845-1927) was produced in the 1970s as a textured print, meaning, it has some raised areas and more than most prints, is intended to resemble an actual painting. While it does a decent job of that, it is, of course, only a reproduction. What makes it special is the gorgeous ornate wood gilt frame. This piece would have been the type you could find in the 1970s through 90s in a large department store's home decor area, pricey then because of the work that went into making them seem like original pieces of art. Maria Oakey Dewing and husband Thomas Wilmer Dewing spent summers from 1885 to 1905 at an artist colony in Cornish, NH, where they cultivated a large garden. From the Smithsonian website, which holds the original painting: "In Garden in May, the viewer has a 'worm's-eye view' of a bed of carnations and roses. Dewing places the viewer among the living stems and blossoms that she knew so well. She has cropped a section from the larger bed for intense study, as if she had held a frame in front of the garden and painted only what fit in the rectangle. As a young woman, Dewing published articles and books on etiquette and housekeeping. In later years she wrote about painting for the national magazine Art and Progress. Having studied at both the Cooper Union School of Design for Women and the National Academy of Design, she took her art seriously, as did critics. Despite the success, her career held disappointment. As the wife of one of the most prominent figure painters of the day, she felt unable to compete with her husband, substituting her flower painting for the figure compositions she had exhibited in her student days. At the end of her life, Dewing expressed doubt in her accomplishments and regret for what she had given up: 'I have hardly touched any achievement', she wrote in a letter the year she died.'I dreamed of groups and figures in big landscapes and I still see them'." At that time, women were not allowed to attend figure drawings with men, and very few women sustained careers in the art world. She is today considered an important role model for women, having established herself as an artist "whose work equaled, and often surpassed, that of her male contemporaries." In addition to her works being part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, they are also found in the National Gallery of Art and other fine museums around the country. And, as this piece demonstrates, her works became so desirable that they were made--and still are today--into reproductions so that more people can enjoy them in their homes.

This back of the piece is sealed so I can't get an exact measurement of the print, but what shows through the frame opening is a little over 7" wide by 9" tall. The large frame measures about 15-1/2" wide by about 17-1/2" tall by 2-3/4" deep. There is one spot on the frame that has chipped away--see Photo 4. The ornate portions of the frame are built up with resin (antique frames would have used gesso) and there is one spot where the gold foil has rubbed away (see Photo 5).

A beautiful study of flowers.


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