Maud Mary Mason, “Iris”

Works in the College’s art collection are housed in the Library when not on display in the galleries or campus building.  At times pieces move from one location to another for longer-term loans.

Recently a large still life painting of irises by Maud Mary Mason was transferred to the Kilgore-Clinkscales House on campus, the home of the Dean of the College.

The painting has been in the college collection for many years.  A photograph of long time college librarian Miss Mary Sydnor DuPré shows the painting behind her in the old Whitefoord Smith Library.  Miss DuPré was librarian from 1905-1953.  An undated note on the reverse of the painting itself also confirms the history:  “This painting, ‘Iris’ by Maud M. Mason, A.N.A. was given to Wofford College at the request of Grace Annette DuPré.  For many years, Miss Mason was considered to be the finest painter of flowers in the U.S.A.”

Maud Mason (1867-1956) indeed was well known in her time.  Born in KY, she moved early to New York City where she studied under Impressionists Charles Merritt Chase and Arthur Wesley Dow, as well as at the Art Students League and the Pratt Institute.

First known as a ceramist and ceramics teacher she also exhibited her paintings widely.  She reports to have begun doing floral paintings out of boredom:

"One day I just go bored while working from a model in Mr. Chase's studio, so I went out and bought a bunch of daffodils and painted them.  Mr. Chase liked the painting, and so did everyone else, and later I showed flower paintings at the National Academy of Design which were admired very much.  Orders for flower paintings began to come in, and I have never had time to paint much of anything else". [AskART]

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