Still Life with Grapes & Pomegranates in a naturalistic scene. By the Mother of Ernest Hemingway, Grace Hall Hemingway (1872-1951).
Oil on canvas, signed lower left G.Hemingway. The painting sits in its original gilt wood frame. Antique, circa 1924.
Professionally cleaned & ready to hang.
Frame Measures: 37.5cm high, 42.5cm wide.
Grace was a formidable woman. A feminist, opera singer, music teacher, business owner, artist, and mother to six children; her second child being the author Ernest Hemingway (born 1899).
Born in Chicago to her English immigrant parents (it is interesting to note that her mother had painted all her life) Grace took music lessons from a young age and went on to become a professional Opera Singer and teacher of voice and music. She married her husband in 1896, Clarence Hemingway, a young Docter who lived across the road from her childhood family home.
They went on to have six children together. Family life for the Hemingways was a little different to most families of their time; with Grace establishing herself as the natural figurehead of the family, a role that tradtionally was that of the husband/father.
She insisted on all her children learning an musical instrument, read copious books aloud to them daily from infancy, and immersed their childhoods with experiences in the cultural arts, taking them on excursions to galleries and theatre performances. Grace however did not partake in the logistical domestic runnigs of her household, preferring (and was wealthy enough) to leave those mundane chores to housemaids and servants, and also reportedly to her husband.
She was an active and leading member of her local Suffragette Club, and ran a successful business from home tutoring music students, which brought in the majority of her families income, eclipsing her husbands earnings as a general physician. Her husband Clarence, developed mental health issues and depression, taking leave from the family for periods of time during Ernests adolescence. Tragically, Clarence passed away from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head in 1928 (Ernest was then 29 years old).
Grace started her lifelong passion for painting in 1924 at the aged of 52. She spent hours in her local art museums painting copies of old masters and honing her technique. After the death of her husband, her son Ernest (who had become a succesful writer) set up a trustfund for his Mother so she could live out the rest of her life in comfort and bring up her remaining two dependant children.
She went on to paint for the next 23 years of her life; taught herself to drive, and would go on solo travelling trips to the American deserts to paint ‘plein air’ the landscapes, from the comfort of her car-with palette propped on the steering wheel, and paintbox on the front passenger seat. She continued to teach both music and painting for many years. Grace died in Memphis Tennesee in 1951 at the age of 79.
Ernest Hemingway in a letter to his Father 1925:
‘Im very glad Mother is painting. I would be awfully interested to see them. If she has any of them photgraphed I wish she would send me some of the reproductions’.
Ernest Hemingway in a letter to his Mother 1927:
‘Thank you very much for sending me the catalogue of the Marshall Field exhibit with the reproduction of your painting of the Blacksmith Shop in it. It looks very lovely and I would have liked to see the original’.
A member & director of the Austin, River Forest Art League, Illinois.
Illinois Society Fine Arts Chicago
Chicago Society of Artists
Michigan Arts, and the National Society of Artists.