|The Ponce de Leon Artist Colony
To the north of the Ponce de Leon, Flagler built studios for artists. The artists painted for guests in the winter and
sold the work they had completed over the summer, or taught the guests how to paint. Receptions were held in
the Grand Parlor of the Ponce de Leon to display the work. or visitors could go directly to the studios. Guests
could visit the studios on Friday evenings. The painters paid for the studios and they rented rooms in the hotel if
possible to be near the wealthy patrons.
Otto Henry Bacher (March 30, 1856 - August 16, 1909) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and became one of the
foremost artists of the late 19th century. He had his early training in Cincinnati and then became a student in
Munich, Germany, where he studied in the late 1870s.
Bacher joined a colony of American painters established by Frank Duveneck in Polling, Bavaria. In 1880 the
'Duveneck boys', a group which also included John White Alexander, Robert Frederick Blum, Charles Abel
Corwin, George Edward Hopkins, Harper Pennington, Julius Rolshoven and Theodore M. Wendel, travelled to
Venice where they formed friendships withWhistler and Henry James. From 1885-86, he studied at the
Academie Julian in Paris.
He produced with Whistler a number of etchings of Venice that shocked audiences and became the cornerstone
of modern art. He first studied art under Willis Seaver Adams before entering the Royal Academy in Munich,
Germany. He became a member of the National Academy of Design in the United States. He also taught at the
Cleveland Academy of Arts. Several of his works hung in the Ponce de Leon; two of these were large etchings
of Old Saint Augustine. Mr. Bacher worked, and studied with Whistler in his studio in Venice, for many months,
and later wrote of the work and life of Whistler. His works include the etchings that were done for the Carrere
and Hastings book about the hotels.
In 1881 Bacher exhibited his etchings in London with the Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, a society
which had formed in 1880. Bacher sent seventeen etchings. The exhibition was favourably reviewed. In the USA
in the 1880s Bacher, along with Charles Alvah Walker, Albion Harris Bicknell and William Merritt Chase, was
responsible for the formation of a 'Monotype Club' in New York.
He was an associate in the National Academy of Design, a member of the Society of American Artists, and one
of the founding members of the Society of Illustrators (1901). In that same year he won a prize at the
Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.
George Seavey (1841-1916) was the brother of the hotel manager, and a gentleman with an enviable
reputation as a flower painter. He had an atelier in the Studio Building in Boston. He also had another studio near
The Maplewood Hotel in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. He had been painting in St. Augustine since 1883. His
specialty was flower painting. His ability was appreciated by Mr. Flagler, who owned at least seven of his
pictures, three of which occupied positions of honor in the parlors of the Ponce de Leon, while the others were in
Mr. Flagler's private residence in New York. When his brother, Osborne Seavey left the Ponce de Leon hotel so
Frank Shapleigh (1842-1906) was born in Boston and went to study in Paris, France. In 1862-63 he served
the United States in the War of the Rebellion. He painted throughout New England, in St. Augustine, Florida,
California, and in Europe. He studied in Paris with Emile Lambinet. Returning to Boston, in 1870, he married
Mary Studley of Cohasset, MA. From 1877 to 1894, Shapleigh spent summers at the Crawford House, NH.
From 1877 to 1894 he was artist-in-residence at the Crawford House. Shapleigh wintered at the Ponce de Leon
Hotel, St. Augustine, from 1866 to 1894 where he was an artist-in-residence. After a trip to Europe he built a
summer home/art studio in Jackson, New Hampshire. Today Shapleigh is best known for his well-executed
White Mountain landscapes that include all of the major tourist attractions and personal, intimate landscapes of
New Hampshire. Shapleigh painted Mt. Washington and the other well-known mountains from dozens of
different locations. He enjoyed painting reproduction on canvas of almost every interesting feature of the Ancient
City. Mr. Shapleigh made St. Augustine his headquarters for several winters and while here devoted himself
exclusively to the scenes in and about town. He died in St. Augustine in 1906.
W. Staples Drown (1856-1915) was a son of Rev. E. L. Drown, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church. He
originally studied painting in Paris and Venice. He was the pupil of John B. Johnson and Appleton Brown, a
prominent Boston artist known for his New England Landscapes He was a member of the Providence art
colony, where fellow artists such as Sydney Burleigh, H. Anthony Dyer, George Whitaker, Stacy Tolman and W.
Alden Brown were his colleagues, and as were a leading number of the Ponce De Leon art colony in St.
Augustine, Florida. He taught painting, had a very large class of young people. His paintings were mostly
watercolors or oils of St. Augustine.
Robert S. German was a native of southern Germany. He received his education in art at the famous schools of
Stuttgart and Dusseldorf. He also spent a year in London, and while there obtained he patronage of the royal
family, many who sat for their portraits. His specialty was India ink.
Mr. German painted portraits almost exclusively. He made a specialty of miniature portraits done on ivory. A
crayon portrait of Walter Lyon and Dr. F. F. Smith were on exhibition in his studio. While in London, Mr.
German made crayon portraits of Admiral Seymour, Lord Charles Beresford, General Wolseley, and all the
participants in the war with Egypt.
In 1890 he was sick and stayed at the Alcazar. While there he specialized in watercolors.
Mrs. Lucy Kemp-Welsh (1869-1959) - She painted pictures of buildings most notably the Ponce de Leon and
Memorial Presbyterian Church. She also painted landscapes. Sometimes her work would include portrait. 1892
was her first year in St. Augustine. She was from England, but had spent time in Egypt. Her husband, Mr. H.
Kemp-Welsh, was the owner of East Florida Land and Produce Company. This was Mrs. Kemp-Welsh's first
trip to the United States. She would become best known for her pictures of horses including the 1915 edition of
Anna Sewell's Black Beauty.
Laura Woodward - She painted scenery and marine pictures. She spent time along the Indian River and at Lake
Worth. She also spent time on Anastasia Island studying how light reflects on the water.
Miss Robbins of Boston had Mrs. Kemp-Welsh studios in 1892. She liked watercolors and pictures of
flowers, specializing in still life paintings. She became a painter for the Barcelona hotel.
Marion Foster was born in Minerva, Ohio, and at an early age began to show evidences of artistic skill, which
developed into a remarkable talent. She later moved to New York and was also known as a lady of literary
distinction. She published "A Book of Rhymes for Children." She was a wheelchair-bound invalid. Her paintings
were full of sunshine and beautiful women. She painted portraits of James Garfield, Chester Arthur, and Grover
Cleveland. In the 1888 season she sold a painting "Met By Chance" for $1,000. She had another claim to fame
as "Patti's Mascotte of Paris."
Felix F. de Crano, (1842- September 15, 1908) a well-known artist of his day. Mr. de Crano was not an
impressionist but produced the effects by broad treatment, depending largely on light and shade for artistic
effects. He had studied in London, Paris, and Rome. He belonged to the French school varying toward the
broader impressionist style. He died September 15, 1908 in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.
Martin Johnson Heade (August 11, 1819- September 4,1904) He was born in Lumbermill, Pennsylvania the
eldest of eight children where his last name was originally Heed. He started in Pennsylvania under the primitive
artist Edward Hicks. He spent time in England, Paris, Rome and South America. Through his meeting Frederic
Church (1826-1900) in New York he became a landscape painter. He was not accepted in the New York art
establishment and denied membership in the Century Association. He was never elected an associate of the
National Academy of Design.
In 1883 he moved to St. Augustine. Mr. Heade's paintings occupied positions of honor in many of the art
exhibitions of the country. Some time before the completion of the Hotel Ponce de Leon Mr. Flagler found in this
artist's collection several paintings which he particularly admired; two of these he purchased, paying $2,000 each
for them. They hung in the upper rotunda of the hotel.
Among his works is a beautiful landscape scene on the San Sebastian marshes, with a view of the city of St.
Augustine, and the towers of the San Sebastian in the distance. He has over 620 known paintings.
F. Arthur Callender had a large studio and art class in 1895 and gave occasional receptions in the Oxford,
Jacksonville. In the 1880s he was a student at the Julian Academy in Paris. In 1892 - 93 he was visiting painter
at Tulane University. In 1893 he painted for Louisiana at the Columbian Exposition. His St. Augustine pictures
were principally of the low lands of Louisiana. He died in 1917.
Marie a' Becket specialized in scenery and was primarily a watercolorist. She was the daughter of Charles E.
Becket, also an artist. She studied with William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) in Boston. The Tatler complained that
sometimes it was difficult to find her studio open because she was a social favorite. It was, however, worth the
wait because of the beauty of her work. Path through an Autumn Wood was one of her paintings. She studied in
Europe with Charles-Francis Daubigny (1817-1878) and was a member of the New York Women's Art Club.
She died in 1904.
Charlotte Buell Coman - (1833-1924) born in New York City she married and moved to Iowa as a house
wife. At the age of 40 she decided to become a painter after being recently widowed. She studied art in Paris
and Holland. To avoid being prejudiced as a woman artist she signed her works as C. B. Coman. Her painting
"Road to Town, Florida" was exhibited in the 1893 Columbian Exposition. She was a landscape and floral artist.
|Ponce de Leon Artist Colony
|Cattleya Orchid and Three Brazilian
Hummingbirds, 1871 by Martin
oil on wood, 34.8 x 45.6 cm (13 3/4 x
Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn
1982.73.1 - National Gallery of Art
Otto Henry Bacher
|W. Stables Drown
|An Afternoon Stroll
Felix F. de Crano
|Charlotte Buell Coman
|Martin Johnson Heade
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|Martin Johnson Heade
Two Hummingbirds, 1871
|Watercolor painting of a river in Florida
by Laura Woodward, circa 1898