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Elizabeth Boott (Mrs. Frank) Duveneck American  1846 - 1888
Floral Still Life with Roses and Lyre  1878
Oil on Canvas
36 x 14 inches, sight
Category: Paintings - American
Era: 19th Century
Subject: Still Life
Style: Realism
Elizabeth Boott (Duveneck) (1846-1888), Floral Still Life with Roses and Lyre, 1878, oil on canvas, 36 x 14 inches, initialed E.B. and dated in Roman numerals at bottom of scroll. Dedicated to the artist's friend Alice Bartlett with the inscription Aliciae Amicae Dilectissimae on the scroll.

One of the best known Boston women artists of her generation, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Boott was born into a socially prominent Boston family. She was taught by William Morris Hunt and Thomas Couture, both of whom also instructed John La Farge. The connection between Boott's and La Farge's work is evident not only in the floral still-life subject matter but also in the use of light, shade, and color, rather than the precision of linear detail. This recently discovered painting bears a resemblance to La Farge's famous floral wreath paintings of the 1860s, which have a similar slim, vertical format; weathered-wall background; rugged texture; and elegiac inscriptions.

In 1886 Boott married Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), noted as a painter, but penniless and socially unacceptable to her family as a husband. Boott's social circle included a series of very close female friends, to whom she occasionally dedicated paintings. When she was visiting her father in Rome during the 1870s, she took many day trips with the writer Henry james (who was also a close friend of John La Farge) and their mutual friend Alice Bartlett, who according to James, was plucky, energetic, and, if she were a boy, would make "an excellent fellow." Over the years Boott and Bartlett grew to be very close and Boott was devastated to learn of Bartlett's engagement to a Texan in 1878. This painting, inscribed Aliciae Amicae Dilectissimae, or "Alice, Dearly Beloved Friend" and dated 1878, was undoubtedly intended for Miss Bartlett, probably upon the occasion of her engagement. The pink roses, sentimental dedication, and unusual inclusion of the lyre, which was an attribute of Sappho, the first female Greek poet and Victorian emblem of feminine love, suggest that Boott has painted a tribute to romantic friendship.

Lizzie Boott contracted pneumonia in 1888 and died at the age of forty-one. Her paintings are extremely rare.

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