Benson began to experiment with plein-air painting in the late 1890s, often depicting his own children out of doors. This canvas portrays his three daughters near the family’s summer retreat at North Haven, Maine. Eleanor, the eldest, recalled: “When we were in North Haven, Papa would often have us put on our best white dresses and then ask us to sit in the grass or play in the woods. We thought it was silly and the maids made such a fuss when they saw our clothes afterwards.” Benson permitted his children to read or play cards while posing but disguised these diversions in his final compositions.
Signature: [at lower left]: F.W. Benson 1905
Mrs. Ralph King, Mentor, Ohio, by 1938; Estate of Mrs. Ralph King; sale, Tobias, Fischer and Company, New York, 15 Sept. 1950, no. 740; with Milch Galleries, New York, 1950; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York, 1950–died 1967
Artist: Frank W. Benson (American, Salem, Massachusetts 1862–1951 Salem, Massachusetts)Date: 1925Medium: Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on white wove paper laid down to gray woodpulp cardboardAccession: 50.45.2On view in:Not on view