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American still-life painting
Magazine Antiques, June, 2005 by Allison Eckardt Ledes

Of the many deserving nineteenth-century painters who languish in relative obscurity, some are being rediscovered by scholars, collectors, and art dealers. One who has recently received notice is Julia McEntee Dillon, an accomplished painter of floral still lifes. Her work is the subject of a monographic exhibition at the Friends of Historic Kingston Museum in Kingston, New York, which may be seen until October 5. The show is entitled Julia McEntee Dillon: A Flower of Kingston and contains twenty-seven oils, one watercolor, one pastel, ten photographs, and several objects from the artist's house.

Dillon, a first cousin of the well-known Hudson River school landscape painter Jervis McEntee, was born in March 1834 and spent her childhood in the Hudson River valley town of Rondout (today part of the city of Kingston). Where she obtained her early schooling is not known, but she is recorded among the student population at Clinton Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York, in 1851. There the art teachers were Mary Conkey and Sarah Hutchins, who presumably taught her the rudiments of drawing, which was usually part of the curriculum in the education of young women at the time. Julia married John Dillon in 1866, but she spent the better part of her life a childless widow following her husband's untimely death in 1873. A turning point in her career came in July 1872 when she sailed to Europe for the first of many trips. Back in the United States, she shared studio space that had been designed by Calvert Vaux for his brother-in-law Jervis McEntee in Rondout. While continuing to paint, Julia remained a lifelong partner in the successful family business, McEntee and Dillon Rondout Foundry and Machine Shop, using the funds it generated to supplement the income she derived from painting.

At the end of the 1870s she began exhibiting her work at both the National Academy of Design in New York City and the Brooklyn Art Association while continuing to travel to Europe. In Paris she studied with the French still-life artist Georges Jeannin and the English genre painter Harry Thompson. When she returned to the United States in the early 1880s, she settled in New York City, sharing a studio with Jervis McEntee in the Tenth Street Studio Building--well known for its highly regarded artist-tenants, including Bierstadt, Chase, Church, Homer, and Whittredge. She cast her net farther afield by exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and the Boston Art Club. She joined the New York Water Color Society in the 1880s. In 1893 she moved back to Kingston, where she painted, became active in civic affairs, and cultivated her garden. She lived in the Masten House, which is one of the city's oldest houses. Early twentieth-century photographs of the interiors, ten of which are included in the exhibition, show her work and that of her friends decorating the walls. The furnishings for the most part remained in the house (which was donated to the Old Dutch Church by the artist's sister) until they were auctioned as recently as 1995. Julia Dillon died there in 1919, and her funeral was presided over by the Reverend Thomas Cole, the son of the founder of the Hudson River school of landscape painters.

The catalogue of the exhibition, written by Sanford A. Levy, an antiques dealer in New Paltz, New York, may be obtained by telephoning 845-339-0720 or by e-mailing (jane@fohk.org).

COPYRIGHT 2005 Brant Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Bibliography for "American still-life painting"
Allison Eckardt Ledes "American still-life painting". Magazine Antiques. June 2005. FindArticles.com. 15 Sep. 2006. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1026/is_6_167/ai_n14707616


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