American Artist Marguerite Stuber Pearson

 I attended a wonderful presentation recently in the home of Joanne Cheek, a friend, collector of American antiques and silver, and fount of knowledge on the development of period styles of furniture in America.  There is at least one entire post waiting to be written about her presentation but a single painting in her collection stood out and had me reading and researching

American artist Marguerite Stuber Pearson.

Years ago we were fortunate to have the opportunity to purchase a Marguerite Pearson painting from a local art gallery some close friends opened in Jackson.  The painting hangs in our living room and is one of our dearest possessions.

While describing her painting, Joanne told about the artist who struggled with the aftereffects of having contracted polio as a young girl.  Joanne’s painting is a landscape and she went on to say that landscapes were most difficult for the artist due to her confinement to a wheelchair.

The painting on the bottom is Joanne’s landscape…

Marguerite Pearson

Marguerite was an only child and despite her disability she went on to become a successful artist and was able to support her family with her art. She lived in Rockport, Massachusetts where she painted and gave art lessons.  A 1922 photo shows the artist along with her parents…

Marguerite Pearson

photo via

I found two very interesting accounts from girls who modeled for Ms. Pearson.  The first, Jane Whitney, recalled the artist always in a wheelchair and painting by “grasping the long-handled brush quite rigidly in her fist or between her thumb and index finger and then she would stab at or brush the canvas vigorously.  She had a rope tied to the easel and kept a 5- or 6-foot pole next to her chair.  To get perspective on her painting, she would push the easel away from her with the pole and then reel it back to her with the rope.  Also, she would rearrange the folds of those long dresses the models wore with her pole.  We worked for 3 hours with a 15-minute break for cookies and milk.”

Ms. Whitney described her studio saying that “it looked exactly like the interiors in her paintings – the window, the props, the musical instruments, the fireplace, and the staircase (which was actually a staircase leading nowhere – only to the ceiling of the studio – no upstairs).”

The staircase leading nowhere…

artist Marguerite Pearson

It was said that Pearson wanted to be a concert pianist but after contracting polio settled on being an artist.  She apparently did much drawing during her convalescence as a way to deter depression.  It would seem that the art world greatly benefitted from her settling.  Another painting with the staircase as a backdrop…

artist Marguerite Pearson

The second, Alison Callahan was 13 when Pearson painted her.  She recalled that “Her studio was in her house on Marmion Way overlooking the ocean.  It had a false staircase, and I was looking out at the sea as she painted.  It was a beautiful place to pose.”

She remembered marveling at the artist’s ability to paint with her physical limitations  and said, “If I had to describe her in one adjective, it would be ‘gracious.'”

Musical instruments were often props and a harp appears regularly…

artist Marguerite Pearson

artist Marguerite Pearson

Our painting also features the harp as a prop…

artist Marguerite Pearson

her distinctive signature…

artist Marguerite Pearson

The children love to laugh and tell that the instructions given by Mr. Doctor “in case of fire” are to grab the painting and run!

We’re going to hope that never happens…

dog firefighter

 images other than my own via

 

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Comments

  1. How beautiful the masterpiece when God takes a seeming infirmity and transforms it into the very motivation to create the art for which we were intended! An inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      Glad you enjoyed it. The more I learn about her the more I love the painting that I enjoy every day.

  2. Katy Baril says:

    How may I know if I have an original?