Children in Woods

Artist: Frank W. Benson (American, Salem, Massachusetts 1862–1951 Salem, Massachusetts)

Date: 1905

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 32 x 30 in. (81.3 x 76.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967

Accession Number: 67.187.210


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.