I am writing this blog today because of the power of WordPress in connecting like-minded people, in my case with Donald Clarke from across the pond in the United States. I thank Don for his generosity in providing information and photographs about the artist Mary Somerville Elwes (M.S. Elwes).
An earlier blog I wrote was about M.S. Elwes and her watercolour painting of Garden Cottage (Mr Woodley’s home). At the end of the blog I made an appeal for further information. Don very kindly replied saying he had a painting by M.S. Elwes which was of Stony Creek, in Connecticut USA (see below). Don kindly send me photographs and commented on the watercolour:
“I have a water-color by Mary Somerville Elwes painted from my grandfather’s bay window in Stony Creek, Ct. in 1937.
…[in the water-color] the “house on the right, [was] owned by Frances Garmany”. The path of green led down to a cove which my grandparent’s garage backed up against and had a boat house underneath. I use to fish and look for sea life as any 10 year old still does.
Also of note was the fact that Mary was there August 17 of 1937. Just a little over a year later, on September 21, 1938, the worse Hurricane ever to hit the New England coast caused utter devastation, worse than our Hurricane Sandy in 2012, to Stony Creek and that whole area of Connecticut and Rhode Island, both of which took the brunt of the storm surge.”
From looking at the passenger records, Mary Elwes departed from Southampton (England) by ship for New York on 26 February 1937. Seven days later she arrived in New York (5 March 1937).
On the reverse of Don’s painting is a newspaper article about Mary Elwes which you can read for yourself below (click on photos to read full-size):
But this is not all. Also on the reverse of the painting was some interesting information about Mary Elwes’ relatives. She was a cousin of the famous portrait painter Simon Elwes and she was a cousin to Admiral Sir James Somerville who sank the French fleet in 1940.
One other thing to note, Mary signed the painting just MSE, which might frustrate others trying find out more about this artist.
I hope, like me, you have enjoyed seeing Don’s painting with the information relating to it. If you know something connected Don’s painting, or know something about Mary Somerville Elwes, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.