Painting in the Garden

Jan 27, 2014

Left to right: Channel Pickering Townsley, Richard E. Miller, and Benjamin C. Brown in the Fenyes Mansion gardens, 1917. (Courtesy Pasadena Museum of History, FCP.40.2)

Fenyes Mansion has kept a long tradition of inviting guests to paint outdoors in its grounds. In the early twentieth century, Eva Scott Fenyes welcomed artists to her gardens where she too joined the en plein-air gatherings, sketching alongside Benjamin C. Brown, Richard E. Miller, and Channel Pickering Townsley. In the early twenty first century, Pasadena Museum of History’s Education Department welcomes students to the same gardens through the My Masterpieces arts program. Students are introduced to the museum’s fine arts collection, and each session culminates with an opportunity to sketch in the Fenyes garden.

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Richard E. Miller in the Fenyes Mansion gardens with palette and brushes in hand, 1917. (Courtesy PMH, FCP.40.2)


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Richard E. Miller (1875-1943), Dappled Light (Mrs. Fenyes Garden), circa 1917. Oil on canvas, 34 x 33 in. (Courtesy PMH, PHS3-74)


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Pasadena Museum of History volunteer Robin Moore assists as PUSD students sketch the same fountain that Richard E. Miller painted almost one hundred years ago, November 2010. (Photo by Brad McNeil)


For over one hundred years, Pasadena artists and students have been painting and sketching en plein air in the grounds of Fenyes Mansion. Teresa Cloud was one such Pasadena artist.  She was born in Summit, New Jersey, on August 21, 1876.  Later she moved with her mother to Pasadena where they resided for many years at 606 South Marengo Avenue. In the late 1890s, Teresa Cloud attended Miss Orton’s Classical School for Girls in Pasadena, and she continued her education at Smith College in Massachusetts and the Art Students League of Los Angeles.  After travel and further study in Europe, she returned to Pasadena.  In 1908, she took charge of the arts program at Miss Orton’s School and taught the art classes.  Teresa Cloud’s career as an artist, art teacher, and also one of Pasadena’s earliest impresarios continued until her death in Pasadena on March 14, 1965.

Teresa Cloud was a close friend of the Fenyes family.  As a frequent painting companion of Eva Fenyes, Teresa not only painted in the Fenyes Mansion gardens, but also accompanied the family on trips and painting excursions.  Snapshots of her appear throughout the family’s photo albums.

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Eva Scott Fenyes (1849-1930). Miss Cloud – in my grounds – Pasadena, 28 July 1908. Watercolor on paper, 14 x 10 in. (Courtesy PMH, ESF.010.2557)



L-R: Benjamin C. Brown, Teresa Cloud, and Eva Fenyes at Venice Beach, California, 1910. (Courtesy PMH, FCP.40.2)


The long tradition of art education and sketching in the gardens continues today at Fenyes Mansion.  Pasadena Museum of History is a founding partner of the award winning My Masterpieces : Discovering Art in the Community. Each year, over one thousand fourth grade students visit from the Pasadena Unified School District.  They tour the Fenyes Mansion, explore the art collection of Eva Scott Fenyes, and spend time in the gardens sketching an historic fountain and making a silent movie. They also receive the book Painting the Beautiful: Learning About Art & the Landscape Paintings at the Pasadena Museum of History. If you are interested in volunteering to help with the program please contact the Museum at (626) 577-1660 x 26.


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PMH volunteer Gale Davis leading a PUSD fourth grade class in a sketching exercise. (Photo by Brad Macneil)


Painting the Beautiful

Book cover of Pasadena Museum of History’s publication Painting the Beautiful by Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen, featuring the painting California Poppies by Benjamin C. Brown, circa 1920.


Julie Stires, Project Archivist
Pasadena Museum of History
470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena CA 91103

2 Responses for “Painting in the Garden”

  1. Laura V says:

    Great article! Love that Fenyes Mansion is carrying on the plein air tradition in the 21st century.

  2. Catherine M. S. Cowles says:

    So great to read about Pasadena’s early bond with the plein air movement. But, given our weather, who wouldn’t want to be outside and while you’re at it, grab some pencils, paint and paper!



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