Editor's note: The following essay, with endnotes, was rekeyed and reprinted on June 4 , 2002 in Resource Library Magazine with permission of the Lightner Museum. The essay was published in October 2001 in the 119 page illustrated book titled Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950, ISBN 0-97-13560-0-9. Images accompanying the text in the book were not reproduced with this reprinting except for two sample images. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, or if you have interest in obtaining a copy of the book, please contact the Lightner Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:
Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950
by Robert W. Torchia
Between the 1930s and the early 1950s the historic city of St. Augustine, Florida, had a thriving cultural community that attracted hundreds of American artists. Today some of these artists are famous, some are relatively well known, and others have fallen into obscurity. St. Augustine developed into the largest art colony in the South through the efforts of a small group of dedicated professional and amateur resident artists who founded the St. Augustine Arts Club in 1931. Renamed the Arts Club of St. Augustine in 1934, and St. Augustine Art Association in 1948, this organization served as the nucleus of the city's artistic activity. In an unusual alliance between culture and commerce, the Art Association was avidly supported by St. Augustine's civic-minded businessmen and retail merchants, who recognized that it had the potential to contribute to the city's economic revival. (right: St. George Street, St. Augustine, Looking South, c. 1949, oil on board, 16 x 20 inches, Signed at lower left: Emmett Fritz, Private collection)
This book constitutes a much needed contribution to American regional art studies because the story of the St. Augustine Art Association is largely forgotten, remembered almost exclusively by a few collectors of Florida art, and by some of St. Augustine's elder residents. St. Augustine never became a national-level art colony because the Art Association's growth was interrupted at critical points by such calamities as the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War II. Even a comprehensive recent survey of the history of art in Florida had very little information on the group. This book documents how an unusually diverse group of artists and their supporters transformed a quiet town into a thriving winter art colony.
This study covers the period between the founding of the St. Augustine Arts Club in the spring of 1931 to the opening of the St. Augustine Art Association's Art Center in February 1954, The text is organized into two sections: an essay devoted to the growth and development of the Art Association during those years, and an alphabetically arranged series of short biographies of the group's most prominent artists, The names of the artists who are emphasized in this exhibition appear in boldface type the first time they are mentioned in the essay. Each biography is followed by a listing of the painting or paintings by that artist that have been selected for inclusion in the exhibition. Information is provided about the medium, measurements, and original artists' inscriptions on each picture, and when appropriate, there is extended commentary on the subject. (left: The Favorite Mule, c. 1948, oil on board, 19 7/8 x 24 inches, Signed at lower left: Tod Lindenmuth, Collection of Faith and Joseph Tiberio)
The main source of information on the history of the Art Association is the St. Augustine Record, which was periodically called the St. Augustine Evening Record. In the text and notes both titles are abbreviated as Record. Most of the citations come from articles pasted in scrapbooks or assorted loose clippings that were systematically gathered by the Art Association over the years and are now preserved in its archives. Many are undated, and often someone inscribed the date in a scrapbook or on an article by hand. I have tried to identify the correct dates and confirm the accuracy of the handwritten ones, as far as is reasonably possible, by checking them against the microfilmed copies of the Record that are available at the St. Augustine Historical Society. Where this was not possible, I noted that the date of the article cited was unspecified, and sometimes approximated it.
Other important resources are the minutes of Art Association meetings and the copies of the group's correspondence that are preserved in its archives. Although these records are incomplete, they provide valuable insight into the organization's private concerns and activities that were never publicized in the Record. The various secretaries who were responsible for recording the group's minutes did not maintain a consistent system. Whenever I quote directly from the minutes, I have provided a note with a short title of the document and the date of the meeting. Where I have summarized the minutes, I give the date of the meeting in the text.
Because comparatively little is known about many of the artists who were active in the St. Augustine Art Association, in the notes I have referred readers to the biographies in Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, 3 vols, (Madison, Conn,, 1999), I have abbreviated the title as WWWAA, followed by the appropriate volume number and page reference. In the section of artists' biographies I have tried to avoid duplicating Falk's bibliographic references and have cited a source only if I quote from it, or if it is not listed in one of his entries.
About the author
At the time of publication of the essay in Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950, the following biographical notes for the author were included in the book:
About the Lightner Museum
The Lightner Museum is located at 75 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida 32084. Please see the Museum's website for hours and admission fees.
Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.
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