On Thursday, July 22, KHS will host an event that is generating a little bit of buzz. From 6 to 8 p.m. at the Center for Kentucky History, Paul Sawyier fans will have a chance to see several selections from the KHS Paul Sawyier collections. In case you didn’t know, KHS is home to more than 100 original Paul Sawyier works.
Thanks to a bequest by the late Mary Kelly, of Louisville, who gave KHS 17 Sawyier paintings, the Society’s total Sawyier collection is up to 112. The collection contains paintings, photographs, letters and a scrapbook.
I will admit that while watercolors don’t usually do it for me aesthetically, I have a few favorite Sawyier works and a few things from our collections that I think are really interesting.
Laura’s Top Three Sawyier Sundries:
• I love “Old Capitol Hotel Portico,” which features the Old Capitol Hotel steps and the façade of the hotel and people walking around Frankfort on what appears to be a drizzly day. This painting belongs to the Kentucky Historical Society, and thus, the people of Kentucky. The date is estimated to be around the late 1800s.
• “Portrait of ‘Mayme’ Bull Within River Landscape”—Apparently Paul Sawyier kept his personal life fairly personal, with few exceptions. This painting is one of those exceptions. Mayme Bull was Paul Sawyier’s fiancée. She was born in 1865, and the couple met in Frankfort in 1887. (By this point, I’m sure Mayme probably felt like an old maid. She was only 22. I think of this because my great-aunt considers me an old maid now, in 2010…and I’m 27.) Speculation is that the couple never married because Sawyier was a poor struggling artist at the time, and both Sawyier and Bull cared for their aging parents. Anyway, this portrait is a rare glimpse of Paul Sawyier’s personal life—none of the couple’s private letters have survived. Further speculation is that the letters were burned by family members. Very interesting tidbits, don’t you think?
• Add to the interesting nature of this Sawyier piece one other object—a bracelet the Society acquired that belonged to Mayme Bull. The gold bracelet is monogrammed with Mayme’s initials, “MTB.” This personal item helps connect Mayme, the person, with Mayme, the subject of Sawyier’s painting. I presume that the bracelet was a gift from Sawyier, which I think is sweet considering Sawyier’s financial status at the time. (I will note here that I am not a curator and am only illustrating to you what I think about these pieces and why I personally find them interesting. Speculations and presumptions are mine and do not reflect the opinions or research of the Kentucky Historical Society. Thank you.)
Anyway, at the event on the 22nd, several original Sawyier works will be on display—specifically three oil paintings and two watercolors. In addition, Bill Coffey, who owns Paul Sawyier Galleries Publishers will discuss the artist’s background and family, and Warren and Julie Payne, who own Payne Fine Arts Gallery, will discuss three women who studied under Sawyier’s direction.
We will also serve wine and light appetizers…all at the low price of $10 for members and $15 for all other guests. If you’d like to come, or find out a little bit more about the evening, contact Julia Curry at Julia.Curry@ky.gov, or call her at 502-564-1792. Make sure to reserve your spot by July 16.
Hope to see you there!
TOP: "Old Capitol Hotel Portico," Paul Sawyier, ca. late 1800s.
BOTTOM:"Portrait of 'Mayme' Bull Within River Landscape," Paul Sawyier, no date.