Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Abbott Fuller Graves was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1859. His father, James Graves was a furniture maker. It was James Graves who first taught his son to paint. Abbott’s first formal training was at the School of Design of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a result of working in greenhouse as a teenager, Graves decided to devote himself to flower painting. In 1884 he went to Paris for a year to study with Georges Jeannin, the foremost painter of flowers in Europe. Graves took rooms in a pension on the Avenue de Victor Hugo, and it was there that he met Edward Tarbell, a fellow roomer and aspiring young Boston artist. Tarbell, who is considered one of the most important painters of the Boston School of Impressionism, became a life long friend.

Upon his return to Boston in 1886 Graves became an instructor in flower painting at the Cowles School of Art. Graves was well received by the Boston art colony, and he became a member of the Paint and Clay Club, the Society of Boston Watercolor Painters, the Boston Art Students Association, the Boston Art Club, and the Copley Society. Graves was successful enough as an artist to get married in 1886. The artists Edmund Tarbell and Childe Hassam were ushers at his wedding. Both of these famous Impressionists were instructors with Graves at the Cowles Art School.

In the spring of 1887 Graves and his new wife sailed for Europe, where they would spend three years while Graves attended the Académie Julian. Childe Hassam and his wife were also in Paris at this time. As a result of his study of figure painting as the Julian, Graves began to paint figures with flowers. By 1890 Graves and his wife and child moved back to Boston, where he established his own school of painting. It was at this time that Graves took his family and his school to Kennebunkport, Maine to paint for the summer. Graves was charmed by Kennebunkport where the streets were lined with the houses of mariners and shipbuilders of earlier times. In 1895 Graves purchased a home in Kennebunkport.

Graves exhibited at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. His Boston dealer was Leonard & Co. Between 1902 and 1905 Graves and his family were once again in Paris where Graves was actively involved in the American Art Association of Paris as its Assistant Treasurer and Chairman of the Art Committee. Graves organized the American Art Association’s first exhibition of American and French Impressionist paintings. Graves won a medal in the Paris Salon on 1905.

Upon their return to America the Graves family spent a long season in Kennebunkport, and Graves designed their new home. It became one of the showplaces in town. In 1913 the Vose Galleries of Boston had an exhibition of Graves’ paintings titled “New England Gardens.” Graves also exhibited with Babcock Galleries in New York where there was a great demand for his paintings of sun-dappled, flower-framed doorways of fine, old New England mansions and small cottages. Throughout the 1920s Graves had frequent one-man shows in New York galleries. As a result Graves took an apartment in New York for the winter season and became a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Allied Artists of America, and the National Arts Club. He was voted a member of the National Academy in 1926. In 1936, while wintering in Sarasota, Florida, Graves suffered a heart attack from which he never quite recovered. In July 1936 he died at his home in Kennebunkport.