Ann S. T. Darrah (1819-1881)

Ann S. T. Darrah (1819-1881)

Ann Sophia Towne was born in Philadelphia in 1819 to John Towne, a prominent patron of the arts. Perhaps inspired by her father’s impressive collection of paintings, she began to foster her creative pursuits first with music, excelling at both piano and harp.  In 1845, after marrying Robert K. Darrah of Boston, Ann turned her attention towards painting, and by 1849 had become a pupil of Paul Weber. 

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Darrah exhibited her work at the Boston Athenaeum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Boston Art Club, and participated in the exhibition organized by Albert Bierstadt in New Bedford upon his return to America in 1858.  She chose landscapes and seascapes as her primary subjects and became one of hundreds of artists to travel to the White Mountains. Darrah was a proponent of plein-air painting, “often not retouching what had been done directly in the presence of nature, lest something should be lost of the freshness and truth which she valued above all.” [1] After a long illness, Darrah passed away in 1881, stipulating in her will that hundreds of her paintings be auctioned off for the benefit of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In the following year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston held a memorial exhibition, featuring sixty oils and over 200 watercolors.

[1] Museum of Fine Arts, Exhibition of Oil Paintings, 3. (reference cited from Consuming Views: Art & Tourism in the White Mountains, 1850-1900, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, NH, September 2006-May 2007.)

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