M.S. Elwes: Visit to Stony Creek, Connecticut

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.

Stoney Creek, CT, USA 11 - MSE article…[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.”


Mary Somerville Elwes
Stony Creek, Connecticut, USA painted by Mary Somerville Elwes

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):

Stoney Creek, CT, USA 5 - MSE article

Stoney Creek, CT, USA 9 - MSE article


Stoney Creek, CT, USA 10 - MSE articleBut 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.



Stoney Creek, CT, USA 3

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.





9 thoughts on “M.S. Elwes: Visit to Stony Creek, Connecticut

  1. She sounds like a fascinating lady, how lucky that Don read your post!

    1. Charlton Estate Trust 25 May 2015 — 7:11 pm

      Very lucky. However, used correctly WordPress can be a very powerful research tool 🙂 I think the secret is to be thorough in the use of tags so the blog appears as high as possible in the search engine results.

  2. I just recently ran across this. https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/mary-somerville-elwes-british-1879-1961-95-c-cd140ac8a2#
    Unfortunately it was after the Auction had ended as I might have bid on one of them. The one looks like there is a Cathedral in the background, possibly of her family’s location.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I did a little bit of research and I think the painting might be the Bok Tower in Florida.

      1. Enno Hungerland 28 July 2018 — 5:11 pm

        May be I can give you some further informations . I bought a water colour Signet MSE 4 week s ago in Bath, titled The Several Nest Midhurst by Margaret Elwes..perhaps it means Mary?
        Have you got. E-Mail , so I would send you some pictures?
        With best regards
        Enno Hungerland

      2. Thanks Enno, I have sent you an email, so please look out for it. Speak soon Steven.

    2. Hello,
      I recently acquired two watercolours by Mary Somerville Elves together with a third watercolour of Lillies in a moat. Actually it was the other way around as I was after the third painting which I recognised as being from Burma (and the Burmese artist whose works I collect). Perhaps like you, I am intrigued by how a painting from Burma turned up with her paintings which looks like scenes from a town in England (the connection might be the water lilies). I hope you are still monitoring these posts.

  3. Label on the back of one painting says “Polish Tower and Water Lily”. Don’t have a clue as to where that would be though.

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