Artist Elizabeth Huntington – History Mystery, February 2015

February 14, 2015 – Question

Recognize this wintry Wellesley scene? Painted by Wellesley artist Elizabeth Huntington (1913–2001) in 1942, this image shows a popular intersection in town. Do you know its location? Return on February 28th for the answer and to learn more about this Wellesley artist!

February 28, 2015 – Answer

This oil painting depicts Wellesley Square at the corner of Washington Street and Grove Street with the Shattuck Block, painted yellow, featured prominently in the background. The Shattuck Block has undergone two renovations since 1942 and now displays a modern façade and houses A. M. DePrisco jewelers. Huntington captured a faithful portrait of Wellesley Square in 1942, as contemporaneous photos show that Fanny Farmer, Wellesley Fruit Company, First National Stores, and Clement Drug were all located exactly as they appear in this painting.
Elizabeth “Betty” Huntington moved to Wellesley at the age of five in 1918 with her parents, Raymond Huntington and Elizabeth H. T. Huntington, who was also an accomplished artist. As a child Huntington studied under Mary Brewster Hazelton, another prominent Wellesley artist, and later trained at the Boston Museum School. She worked primarily in watercolor, tempera, and oil and was well-known for her still lifes of flowers and local genre scenes like the one pictured here. Wellesley Square shows Huntington’s interest in the naïf, or naïve, style with its sense of bustling activity, flattened perspective, and bright, saturated colors. Huntington also favored winter scenes because she noted that “snow shows off things in silhouette so sharply, like a Japanese print.” Elizabeth Huntington had a prolific career and completed over 3,000 paintings; her work was exhibited in galleries and museums. The Wellesley Historical Society is pleased to have six paintings by Huntington in its collection and would welcome any donations from the community.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society