We continue in Women’s History Month to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to just some of the women who made Caramoor what it is today.
In this blog post, we will learn about two female figures that breathed life into Caramoor, and the lasting influence of each of their contributions.
Despite being a talented artist herself, Bridget Henrietta Francis Guinness (née Williams-Bulkeley) (1871-1931) appears to be a hidden figure in the art world. Not much is known about her life and art development. We do know she was a family friend of Lucie and Walter Rosen, and we know she painted and sculpted. Our collection has a 1919 portrait of young Walter B. Rosen as a boy that shows her mastery of shadows and light in paint. Her sculpture of a nude woman lounging by the water’s edge in “By the Waters” was shown at the 1916 American Sculpture exhibition at the Gorham Galleries on 5th Ave. She encouraged her three children to be educated in the arts, which is how her eldest daughter Meraud Guinness Guevara began her own artistic journey to being one of Peggy Guggenheim’s “31 Women” which was the title of Guggenheim’s 1943 show. Whether in New York, London, Cannes, or Mougins, Mrs. Guinness hosted parties and soirees, socializing with contemporary artists like Frances Picabia or Robert Lee MacCameron. Later, her son Loel Guinness sold the family house Mas de Notre Dame de Vie in Mougins to none other than Pablo Picasso.
Now, what would you do if your courtyard white clock seemed too blank? Lucie Rosen had the same thought, and in 1950, she contacted her well-trusted designer and decorator Arthur Powell who knew just the artist for the job: Elsa Schmid (1897-1967). Originally from Germany and once a faculty member of Black Mountain College, North Carolina, Schmid became an accomplished artist in multiple mediums and styles—painting, printing, photography, abstraction, figurative, and mosaics. The medium she preferred above all was glass. Her process was lengthy but thorough—scoping out the project, examining the light movement and how it affects the colored glass, deciding which colors work in the space, and working with glass technicians to achieve the exact color, before making the precise cuts. She created portraits of Albert Einstein, designed and made windows for churches in New Jersey and in the Bahamas, and produced collages and murals, like the one in Caramoor’s courtyard. We can only imagine how many times she may have come up from her home and studio in Rye, NY, to study the colors with the sunlight in our courtyard. In the end, we have a colorful mosaic that reflects the passing of time through the movement of the sun and moon, while the greenery and the birds chirping resonate with the peaceful natural surroundings of Caramoor.
At the bottom of the clock, there are four zodiac symbols: on the left are the crab and “69” which symbolize cancer (Lucie’s zodiac sign), and on the right are the scorpion and “M” which symbolize Scorpio (Walter’s zodiac sign).