Woman of the Century/Agnes Dean Abbatt
ABBATT, Miss Agnes Dean, artist, born in New York City, 23rd June, 1847. She still resides in her native city. Her paternal ancestors were English, and she is of French Huguenot descent on her mother's side. Her great-grandfather and his family came from England to this country in the latter part of the last century. They settled in what is now Pleasant Valley, Dutchess county, N.Y., where William D. Abbatt, the father of Agnes, was born. He passed his life in business in Poughkeepsie, Philadelphia and New York. Miss Abbatt's grandmother, Mrs. Dean, an English woman, was an art amateur of unusual talent and accomplishments. Of her children, nearly all possessed the talent for painting, but of all the descendants Agnes alone has adopted art as a profession. She showed in early childhood a marked talent for drawing, but it was not till 1873 that she took up the study of art as a profession. In that year she entered the Cooper Union art-school. She won a medal for a head of Ajax in the first year of her studies, and on the merit of that achievement she was admitted to the art-school of the National Academy of Design in New York. So decided was her progress that, at the end of the first year in that institution her first full-length drawing was one of those selected for exhibition. As it was not her intention to become a figure-painter, she left the Academy and devoted herself to the study of landscape painting. That branch of art she studied for several years under K. Swain Gilford, N. A., and James D. Smillie, N. A., constantly showing new powers and making rapid progress. At the same time she was gratifying her tastes in another direction, and she won distinction as a water-colorist and also as a flower-painter. Her first pictures, two panels of flowers, were shown in the exhibition of the Brooklyn Art Club in 1875, where they attracted much attention and found purchasers. Her next picture, "My Next Neighbor," was shown in New York, and was the subject of much favorable comment. In the Water Color Society's exhibition, in 1880, she showed a composition named, "When Autumn Turns the Leaves," which was one of the most conspicuous features of the exhibition. In the same year Miss Abbatt was elected a member of the American Water Color Society, at once taking high rank in that somewhat exclusive organization of artists. She is the second woman on its list of members. She has given especial attention to the painting of chrysanthemums. Besides the picture entitled "When Autumn Turns the Leaves," she has painted others that are noteworthy, among which are "The Last of the Flowers," "Flowers of the Frost." "Our Japanese Cousins," "From the Land of the Mikado, "Autumn Colors," and "A Japanese Embassy," all devoted to the royal chrysanthemum. In the landscape field she has confined her work mostly to the rural scenes in Westchester, county, N. Y., the picturesque nooks of the eastern end of Long Island, and the coast of Maine and Massachusetts Bay. Among her notable productions in landscape are "Near Barnstable, Cape Cod." "The Noisy Geese that Gabbled o'er the Pool." "A Summer Afternoon on the New England Coast," and "In Lobster Lane, Magnolia, Mass." The last named picture won for her a silver medal in the exhibition of the Charitable Mechanics' and Tradesmen's Association of Boston, Mass. She works with equal facility and success in oil and water colors, and she has also made a study of pastel work. In addition to her own extended creative work, she has been a successful art-teacher, in studio and in field. Aside from her home studio, she has taught classes in Washington, D. C, Troy, N. Y., and in New Haven, Conn., while her field instruction has been given in New York, Massachusetts and Maine. She is a genuine enthusiast in art, both as creator and instructor, and in these two fields, calling for so widely differing powers, she has been equally at home. Her work is distinct in character, in outline and tone in shades and lights, and her proud position among the painters of the United States is a one legitimately won and successfully held.