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Florence Tuttle Hubbard: A George Bellows Portrait Sketch

Updated: May 23, 2022

By Bruce Weber

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Sketch of Florence Tuttle Hubbard,

c. 1923-1924

Graphite on paper

W. Shewell Ellis (1876-1931)

Florence Tuttle Hubbard, by 1924

Hartford Courant, February 23, 1924, p. 31

Over the course of the past year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to become familiar with the fine art collection of the Historical Society of Woodstock. In the course of exploring this collection of approximately seven hundred paintings, drawings, watercolors, and prints, I’ve learned about the lives and careers of numerous artists who are little remembered today but who once played an active role in the Woodstock artistic community. I thought it would be interesting to devote this blog to one such artist - Florence Tuttle Hubbard – and offer a glimpse of her art, educational background, career as an art teacher, and involvement in the Woodstock art colony.

Peter A. Juley & Son George Bellows, c. 1920 Gelatin silver print

I was originally drawn to Hubbard after discovering she was the subject of a portrait sketch by George Bellows, which was auctioned on June 12th, 2014 at Swann Auction Gallery in New York City. Bellows spent part of every year in Woodstock from 1920-1924. In all he created over 100 paintings during his time there, and considered the town to be the perfect combination of nature and neighborhood. He tended to stay late into the summer season or early fall, sometimes alone or with his wife Emma. The exhibition catalog Leaving for the Country: George Bellows in Woodstock remains the most extensive study of the artist’s time in Woodstock, and of the paintings and portraits he created there. Organized by the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York in 2003, the publication includes half a dozen essays, including studies on aspects of Bellows activity in Woodstock by Marjorie B. Searl and Ronald Netsky.

Unknown Photographer

Detail of Photograph of Shotwell House,

c. 1920-1921

Gelatin silver print

Amherst College Archives and

Special Collections

Upon his arrival in Woodstock in 1920, Bellows rented the house of the historian, statesman, professor of history at Columbia University, and long-time seasonal resident James T. Shotwell and his wife Margaret, which was located on a hillside east of Byrdcliffe (now Shotwell Road), which had beautiful mountain views. The artist Andrew Dasburg felt that Bellows had gotten a great bargain in rent for such a large and attractive place.

In 1922, Bellows purchased land adjacent to his old friend Eugene Speicher’s home, on the road now known as Bellows Lane, at the intersection of Lower Byrdcliffe Road.

Unknown Photographer

Front View of Bellows Home, c. 1922

Gelatin silver print

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections

The house, which remained in the Bellows family until the mid-1960s, was designed by Bellows with the aid of Jay Hambridge’s system of Dynamic Symmetry, which resulted in the side windows being installed very low. While living there the Bellows’ decorated the dark mahogany stained floors with Navajo rugs, purchased during their time in the west. The family rented a house in the village while the house was under construction. Bellows built the house himself with the assistance of the artist John Carroll.

Unknown Photographer

George Bellows in Woodstock Studio, c. 1923

Gelatin silver print

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

(Unlocated portrait of artist

John Carroll hanging on wall)

Bellows' studio was just steps away from the house, and was one of a group of artist studios in the vicinity that was rented out by a Miss Simmons. It was later destroyed by fire. The Bellows had a stone swimming pool, but no refrigerator or ice box – during the time that George Bellows lived there, Emma and he utilized the brook running in back to keep their food chilled.

During his time in Woodstock, Bellows forged a personal and critical link between the older established artists and the younger artists who had recently made their way to the town. He was a popular figure there, and his sudden death in New York City in early 1925, of a ruptured appendix, was a terrible blow to his friends in the area, and to American art in general.

Bellows participated in various organizations and special events during his time in Woodstock. He exhibited regularly at the newly established Woodstock Art Association, where he was a founding member, served on the exhibition review committee, and as the auctioneer at a benefit art sale for the organization; captained and played first base on the Woodstock baseball team; taught children how to swim; and lectured at the Art Students Leagues summer school in 1921 in association with his artist friends Robert Henri, Eugene Speicher, Leon Kroll and Charles Rosen.

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Four Friends, 1921

Lithograph on paper

New York State Museum,

(Historic Woodstock Art Colony Collection,

Gift of Arthur A. Anderson)

From Left: George Bellows, Leon Kroll,

Eugene Speicher and Robert Henri

Bellows also helped pull together key business interests to form the Woodstock Athletic Club.

At the Maverick Festival he narrated Hervey White’s adaption of a play by Flaubert. The first time he presided at a public meeting Bellows reportedly picked up a baseball bat and brought it down on the table “and told everybody that if they did make less noise they might go to the devil.”

George Bellows (1882-1925)

The Picnic (Cooper Lake), 1923

Baltimore Museum of Art,

Permanent Loan from the Peabody Art Collection

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Anne in White, 1920

Carnegie Museum of Art

(Featuring a view from Shotwell house)

In addition to many landscapes and portraits, Bellows created portrait sketches of artists and people he encountered in the community. He made drawings at the Market Fair and Library Fair in town. At the latter he sold his portrait sketches for a $1 each to benefit the library’s annual budget. It is easy to imagine his witnessing Hubbard somewhere in town, and taking a moment to picture the young art school teacher’s sharp eyed glance. In his portrait sketches Bellows often exaggerated the facial features of his subjects, and in his drawing of Hubbard he magnified the length of her nose and accentuated the shape of her chin and jaw to slightly comic effect.

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Portrait of a Man, c. 1920-1924

Graphite on Paper

New York State Museum,

(Historic Woodstock Art Colony Collection,

Gift of Arthur A. Anderson)

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Florence Ballin Cramer, c. 1920-1924

Graphite on paper

New York State Museum,

(Historic Woodstock Art Colony Collection,

Gift of Arthur A. Anderson)

Florence Tuttle Hubbard was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1892 . The daughter of Joseph and Clara Tuttle Hubbard, she grew up is the Blue Hills section of the city. At the age of twelve she won a contest run by managers of the Isle of Spice Company for the greatest number of words spelled using letters from the similarly titled comic opera The Isle of Spice. Hubbard attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where she received a degree in 1913 from the School of Fine and Applied Arts. Hubbard taught art at the Women’s College of Delaware in Newark, Delaware in 1918 and 1919. She resigned from the school and moved to New York where she engaged in batik work and costume designing. In 1921 she began a long career as an art teacher in the New York City School system, first teaching at Boys High School in Brooklyn and then at Flushing High School in Queens. In 1924, Florence took a break from teaching and spent half the year traveling abroad, where she visited Spain, Algeria, Italy, Switzerland, France and England, and studied the arts and crafts of these countries. In 1926, Hubbard received a degree in Applied Art from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Hubbard first came to Woodstock in 1920 when she studied at the Art Students League’s summer school. The school offered classes in landscape painting (taught by Charles Rosen) and in painting the figure outdoors (taught by Andrew Dasburg). The following year Hubbard studied at the league’s main campus in New York City, where she took classes in watercolor painting (instructor unknown), and oil painting with Robert Henri. At this time she may have met Bellows, who was a longtime instructor at the school. From 1926-1927, Hubbard studied etching at the Art Students League in the city with Eugene Fitsch. In addition to etchings, she created block prints. Loop

In about 1923, Hubbard acquired a summer home on Wild Rose Hlill in Bearsville, some three miles west of Woodstock. In August of that year she was among a group of fifty summer residents and visitors to Woodstock who signed a circular protesting the modern art that was on display at the Woodstock Art Association. Among the other signees were W. C. L. White and Anna B. Carolan, fellow art teachers at Boys High School. The art on view at the association stirred up the ire of the more traditionally minded artists in town, and, as reported in American Art News, led to the creation of the circular which protested against what the signers considered to be “a degrading tendency in art.”(1) For further reading about the protest and the conflicts that ensued between artists of different aesthetic persuasions in Woodstock in the early 1920s see my article "In Quest of Harmony: The Founding and Early Years of the Woodstock Artists Association,” published in the Autumn 2019 issue or The Hudson River Valley Review (pages 34-54).

Following her retirement from teaching in around 1950, Hubbard appears to have spent most of her time upstate. She was involved with several local organizations, and developed a new interest in weaving. During the 1950s and 1960s, she served on the board of the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen (now the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild), secretary and treasurer of the Woodstock Craft Foundation, chairman of the League of Women Voters, and president of the Woodstock Garden Club.

Hubbard exhibited her paintings locally at the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen and the Woodstock Artists Association. In 1934, her painting The Bridge was singled out for attention by the art critic of the KIngston Daily Freeman. He noted the picture's ”long graceful steel-gray expanse of bridge,” and complimented the picture’s design and color." (2) In addition to landscapes, Hubbard painted still life's of flowers. The latter subject long attracted her interest. In 1936 she exhibited a painting of mullein at the Woodstock Art Association, and in 1957 she showed a picture of morning glories at the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen.

Florence Tuttle Hubbard

With Michèle and Jean-Pierre Francois

Children of Pierre and Jacqueline Francois,

July 1967

In 1966, Pierre and Jacqueline Francois purchased the house next door to Hubbard on what is now known as Wild Rose Hill. They learned about the property from the artists Theodore and Judy Wassmer, who owned property close by, and were friendly with Hubbard. Among her other friends in town were the writers and illustrators Maud and Miska Petersham. In a recent telephone conversation, Jacqueline recalled her own friendship with Hubbard. She remembers seeing a box of paintings by Hubbard (mostly landscapes), and discussed Hubbard’s close friendship with Rosabell MacDonald Mann, the former owner of Jacqueline’s house. Mann was the first director of the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. She later taught art at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx. Under her family name, Rosabell MacDonald, she authored Art as Education (published by Henry Holt in 1941), a well regarded book about teaching art in high school.

Jacqueline informed me about Harold Rugg, who was a professor of education at Teachers College from 1920 to 1951. Hubbard and Mann were close friends with Rugg, who from 1930 to 1960 lived in a house a short distance up the road from Wild Rose Hill. Hubbard likely met Rugg while attending Teachers College in the 1920s. Rugg was a leader in the social frontier group that emerged in the 1930s to argue that schools should play a stronger role in helping to reconstruct society. He was author of a best selling social studies textbook series that came under attack in the early years of World War II from patriotic and business groups, who did not want school children (or their parents), raising questions about the basic structures of American life and the capitalist economic system. Rugg was very interested in art and the creative process. In August 1954 he participated on a panel at the Woodstock Artists Association on the topic "What Makes Art Important?" An article on the upcoming panel in the Catskill Mountain Star noted that he had a "special interest in the creative process and the role of the artist in America."(3)

Rugg was initially drawn to Woodstock by his old friend and former teaching colleague, the poet and educator William Hughes Mearns. Undoubtedly, Mearns' introduced Rugg to his artistic circle in Woodstock of writers, painters, and musicians, who over the years regularly congregated for parties at the Ruggs’ home. The house has some of the most magnificent mountain views in the township. “Where could one find a scene and a climate more hospitable,” Rugg remarked, “to the quiet mind of creative discovery than in our house above the valley in a community of artists?”(4)

Florence Tuttle Hubbard (1892-1968)

Scene of Market Fair, c. 1940

Watercolor on paper

Historical Society of Woodstock

The Historical Society of Woodstock owns a lively and richly hued watercolor by Hubbard of a scene at the local Market Fair. For more than three decades the fair was held every Saturday near the Village Green during the summer months. In its later years the fair was held on the grounds of Christ's Lutheran Church, the Woodstock Playhouse, and St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church. The Market Fair continued into the 1970s, and survives today in the guise of Mower’s Saturday Sunday Flea Market on Maple Lane in the village.

Woodstock historian Janine Fallon-Mower has noted that the artist Ethel Peets “developed the idea of Saturday Market Fairs in 1917 as a way to raise money for the Red Cross. Ethel and . . . Marion Eames set about gathering a group of volunteer workers to run a street fair, patterned after similar fairs that were run in Europe. Table sellers, as they were known, set up on a vacant lot behind the village green in an area now occupied by the Garden Café.”(5) Among other things, the fair was a popular place to buy flowers, jewelry and interesting odds and ends.

Baker Rorick, the founder and producer of the annual Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, is the present owner of Hubbard’s house on Wild Rose Hill. Janine Fallon-Mower informed me about Baker’s ownership of the house, and supplied a copy of the following story by her husband John, which includes a photograph of a flower painting by Hubbard. The opening sentence provides a clue to the likely fate of much of Hubbard’s art:

The Life Cycle … or the Hubbard Goes Home

By John Mower

There was an air of mystery surrounding the “painted flower drawings” that Dick Benoit, owner of Woodstock Sanitation, found at the Woodstock Landfill. 

In the 1980’s, the national appeal to restore the Statue of Liberty inspired local Woodstockers to join in the effort. An auction was the first of a few fund raisers that the Onteora Lions Club & the Woodstock Rotary sponsored to raise funds for the restoration. Dick donated the six saved “painted flower drawings” to the auction. Russ Roefs was the auctioneer at the event that attracted about 40 or so people to the Bradley Meadows parking lot.

      There were many donated items and when the “painted flower drawings” came on the block, Russ explained that they were found at the landfill, but were surely priceless!

      Well, there was little interest in the pieces, so a few club members, in the interest of raising funds, started bidding. The bidding went back and forth until a member ended up paying $25 for the painting rescued from the dump . . . to much laughter. Then another hit the block, with the same bidding action, a few more folks joining in the fun, and the second went for $35! Then another amidst a new found “buzz” and the winning bidders remarking that they were pretty nice pieces. . . bing! $40. Then someone said,” Hey maybe these are worth something!  “Who is the artist?” “Don’t know, but it had F. T. Hubbard on the side" . . . bang $50! And the lively bidding on the last piece would have given a Van Gogh a run for the money . . . boom $60!!!

     One day at the Pub, I was kibitzing with Baker [Rorick] who was talking about his wife’s passion for their flower garden. They had bought a Wittenberg house from a lady who loved her garden and spent many hours there. [Miss] Hubbard!!

Was the mysterious artist Hubbard unveiling herself? I think so…

A vibrant [Miss.] Hubbard

Spent no time by her cupboard

In her garden tending flowers,

Apparently by the hours

But as the bloom would go

She missed them so

Painting took the place

Of seeing them face to face.

(1) "Protest Against Woodstock Show," American Art News 21 (October 21, 1922): 3.

(2) ”Woodstock Artists Hold Final Exhibit at the Art Gallery,” Kingston Daily Freeman, September 8, 1934, p. 3

(3) "Panel Discussion at Art Gallery," Catskill Mountain Star, July August 20, 1954, p. 3

(4) Rugg is quoted in Anita M. Smith, Woodstock History and Hearsay [Saugerties, New York: Catskills Mountains Publishing Corporation, 1959: Woodstock, New York: Woodstock Arts, 2006], p. 271.

(5) Janine Fallon-Mower, American Tapestry, the Mowers of Maple Lane (Anam Cara Press, 2007).

For their special assistance in writing and researching this piece. I would like to thank Arthur A. Anderson, Eric Lapp, Janine Fallon-Mower, John Mower, Baker Rorick, Jacqueline Francois, Bruce Bodner, Mikhail     Horowitz, and Stephanie Cassidy, Historian and Content Manager, The Art Students League of New York,

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