Elmer Livingston MacRae

Elmer MacRae in his Studio

In the summer of 1896, Elmer MacRae arrived at the Holley Inn. He was a student from the Art Students League who was there for a class in outdoor painting, but he also found Constant Holley. They fell in love. From the beginning Constant encouraged Elmer to draw and paint flowers. In a letter dated July, 1897, he wrote, “The flowers you told me to sketch, brought me a good criticism.” His style of painting changed over the years, but flowers continued to be a central theme in his art.

His early work was strongly influenced by the art of Japan both in technique and subject. This was partially due to the general interest in things Japanese at the time, but he was also influenced by a close friendship with fellow student Genjiro Yeto.

Two other subjects inspired his paintings, pastels and sketches: Constant, his wife, and Constant and Clarissa, their twins born on October 31, 1904.

In 1913, Elmer was one of the primary organizers of the Armory Show, the international exhibition that introduced European modernism to America. After this show, his style changed dramatically. Flowers were simplified and negative spaces activated with strong shapes and bold colors.

Beginning around 1915, his art took another direction. This time it was not in subject but rather in medium. With his interest in the Arts and Crafts movement—and the possibility of selling his work to the wealthy people moving to Greenwich—Elmer began working in wood producing chairs, screens, book covers and panels as well as boxes and tables.

You may also enjoy…

Delayed Debuts in LA and Greenwich

The Magazine Antiques | 2022

In Connecticut, the Greenwich Historical Society has finally been able to mount Life and Art: The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman. The show was meant to go on view last fall, but that plan was scotched thanks to flooding caused by Hurricane Ida. The exhibition examines the artworks created by the American impressionist while living in a farmhouse in Greenwich.

Read More

The Glory of Greenwich

Art and Antiques | November 2022

THROUGH January 22 the Greenwich Historical Society will stage a major exhibition for impressionist John Henry Twachtman featuring his home and surroundings in Greenwich, Connecticut. The famed artist lived in the area from 1890 through 1899 and is considered to be when he painted some of his best-known works. The show, titled “Life and Art: The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman”, was curated by Lisa N. Peters, Ph.D., an independent scholar and author on several Twachrman and American art publications.

Read More

Life & Art: The Greenwich Paintings Of John Henry Twachtman

COS COB, CONN. – “I can see how necessary it is to live always in the country – at all seasons of the year.” American Impressionist John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902) shared this certainty with close friend and fellow artist Julian Alden Weir in 1891, a few days after adding acreage to his small farmstead in Greenwich, Conn. Twachtman’s guiding belief in the inspirational power of place and nature shines through the exhibition and catalog titled “Life and Art: The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman.” Visitors can take in the intriguing presentation at the Greenwich Historical Society in Cos Cob until January 22.

Read More