Jul 022015

Lily Dulany Cushing was born in Newport, Rhode Island, on 13 January 1909 and passed away on 21 September 1969 in Fishers Island, New York. She was married three times, but throughout her artistic career appears to have signed most paintings “L.C”.

Lily Cushing, 1942. Photo by Horst P. Horst,.

Lily Cushing, 1942. Photo by Horst P. Horst.

Her first, brief, marriage in 1929 was to George Crawford Clark Jr. After their divorce, in 1932 she married William Temple Emmet Jr. The couple had two daughters. Following their divorce, Cushing took Navy Captain Alston Boyd as her third husband, in 1953. As a  result, her art is listed under various names including Lily Emmet Cushing and Lily Cushing Boyd.

Cushing, whose father Howard Gardiner Cushing (1869-1916) was a noted figure and mural painter, began painting at the age of 5, and went to Europe at age 16 to study in Paris with Alexandre Jacovleff. She also took classes in New York with American artist Walt Kuhn, then at the forefront of the modern movement.

In 1930, a few weeks after her twenty-first birthday, Cushing had her first of many solo exhibitions, at the Arden Gallery in New York. Cushing is best known for landscapes and still lifes of flowers, but subsequently took to watercolors and then oils later in her career.

Her paintings can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan museum, the Whitney, and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, and in many private collections.

Lily Cushing. n.d. "Guadalajara" (?)

Lily Cushing. “Guadalajara.” n.d.

In the early 1960s, she spent some time in Mexico, visiting various locations including Lake Chapala. A landscape painting of the central Mexican volcano of Popocatapetl dates from this time, as does a painting sold at auction entitled “Guadalajara” (see image).

Much more interesting for our purposes are two paintings – “Chapala Beach” and “Posada Garden with a Monkey” – listed in the 1971 and 1986 Annual Reports of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. as being on extended loan to the Supreme Court of the United States. We have not managed to find photos of these two paintings and would welcome more information about them, including the year they were painted.

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Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village offer more details about the history of the artistic community in Ajijic.

Comments, corrections and additional material are welcome, whether via the comments feature or email.

  9 Responses to “Hung in the U.S. Supreme Court: two Lily Cushing paintings of Lake Chapala! Who knew?”

  1. Most interesting woman–this summary makes one want to know more-bill

  2. I have a Lili Cushing painting of my mother-in-law (Sidney Bacon). Sidney’s mother (Toni Frissell) took a lovely photograph of Lili and her daughters. I didn’t know anything about her until I found this article. I’d love to know more.

  3. her daughter translated Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin

    • Wow! Thank you for that interesting comment. Is the daughter Olivia Emmet? [as in Emmet & Makourenkova: A.S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin. Translated by Olivia Emmet, Svetlana Makourenkova [Светлана Александровна Макуренкова]. Москва: Прогресс-Традиция [Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya] 1999. Reprinted Москва: Река Времен [Moscow: Reka Vremen] 2009. ISBN 978-5-85319-124-2.]

    • Yes, she is this translator. I am writing an article about this translation. I do communicate with S. Makourenkova.

    • Evgeniya. Thanks for confirming that Olivia is Lily Cushing’s daughter. Do have any idea how I can contact Olivia? Please feel free to share my email – infoATsombrerobooks.com – or Facebook page – if that helps. Regards, Tony

  4. Thanks for your quick response and the link to her obituary. I’d still love to know how two of her paintings ended up in the US Supreme Court collection! I’ll have to remember to ask her in the next life.

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