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The Noonday Rest

Jun 1, 2014

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Eva Scott Fenyes (1849-1930), The Noonday Rest [probably Washington County], Rhode Island, 5 September 1884. Pencil on paper, 25.2 x 35.5 cm. (Courtesy Pasadena Museum of History, Fenyes-Curtin-Paloheimo Papers, ESF.009.1308)

For those acquainted with the life and accomplishments of early Pasadena resident, Eva Scott Fenyes, trying to imagine her idle may seem very nearly impossible. Even on road trips, when she and her companions would stop by the roadside for a picnic lunch, she remained keenly aware of her surroundings and invariably sketched a memorable scene. This habit, undoubtedly rooted in years of travel with her mother and father, suggests a subset of sketches depicting the noonday rest. The examples shown here, selected from so many tempting possibilities, depict five moments within five decades from the 1880s to the 1920s. Each image suggests a story. Each image draws the viewer into a singular moment of time as it was seen through the eyes Eva Fenyes.

The Noonday rest, 1884
In 1884, Eva took a four month carriage trip throughout the Eastern United States with her husband William Muse, their four year old daughter Leonora, and Leonora’s nurse Julia Fabisch. The drawing shown (above, right) is unusual, because Eva sketched herself into the scene. Sitting under a tree with Leonora and Miss Fabisch, she reads, leaning toward her daughter who attentively listens to a story we can only imagine. William tends the horse, Miss Fabisch concentrates on her needlework, and Eva, in a moment of artistic bilocation, sits apart capturing this bucolic noonday rest.

At Baroness Baillon’s picnic – Ajaccio, 1894
Ajaccio on the island of Corsica was Napoleon Bonaparte’s birthplace, and it held a special appeal for Eva. She was an avid Napoleonophile and a collector of all things Napoleon. Small wonder she excused herself from the Baroness Baillon’s company to paint this view. At the time, divorced from William Muse, she was traveling on her own throughout Europe. Little did she know that marriage again was in her near future. In late November she traveled to Egypt where she met Hungarian physician Adalbert Fenyes. They married on April 25, 1896 in Budapest, Hungary, and by that November she and her family had arrived in Pasadena, California, their home for the next 34 years.

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Eva Scott Fenyes (1849-1930), At Baroness Baillon’s Picnic – Ajaccio, 1894. Watercolor on paper, 9.3 x 15.8 cm. (Courtesy PMH, FCP Papers, ESF.007.1732)

 

Our picnic at Bear River near Applegate, 1909
An ideal picnic: a big white tablecloth cloth laid out in a shady spot along a riverbank, a picnic basket unpacked of its delicious contents, the company relaxed, appetites sated. A bit sleepy now, Mr. Hotchkiss gazes at the river. Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Wagner idly chat. Eva, however, crosses the river and paints a scene reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows. Maybe she has just read the newly published book and wonders how it might be illustrated. She surely captures a perfect picnic moment.

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Eva Scott Fenyes, Our Picnic at Bear River Near Applegate, Placer County, California, 17 May 1909. Watercolor on paper, 28.3 x 19.5 cm. (Courtesy PMH, FCP Papers, ESF.011.2617) Next to the painting Eva wrote, “Our picnic at Bear River near Applegate. Mr. Hotchkiss of Walmond – Applegate” “Mrs. Howard & Mrs. Wagner”

 

First Purisima Mission near Lompoc, 1917
“We went…to the ruins of the oldest Purisima Mission – a few broken walls. Sketched some and then lunched under eucalyptus trees by the roadside. The old mission was destroyed in 1812 by the great earthquake.”[1] So wrote Eva Fenyes who scoured California looking for historic adobes and missions to paint and remember before their complete deterioration.

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Eva Scott Fenyes, First Purisima Mission Near Lompoc, California, 28 March 1917. Watercolor on paper, 18.1 x 25.6 cm. (Courtesy PMH, FCP Papers, ESF.011.2962)

 

Our Picnic Grounds, 1922
On November 9, 1922 Eva Fenyes celebrated her 73rd birthday. From childhood on, she suffered poor health, but she did not allow illness to keep her mind and hands from sketching. About 1918 she started using colored pencil as her predominant medium. Was she testing a new artistic trend? Was she intrigued by their improved quality and the many new colors recently available?   Or was she adapting her style to painful rheumatic hands. Whatever the reason, Eva continued to bring her own sense of color, form, and composition to her sketches. But perhaps more importantly, we get to enjoy what she saw well into her seventh decade.

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Eva Scott Fenyes, Our Picnic Grounds, near Walnut, California, 19 March 1922. Ink and colored pencil on paper, 17.9 x 25.6 cm. (Courtesy PMH, FCP Papers, ESF.013.3473)

 

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

[1] Travel Journal of Eva Scott Fenyes, 28 March 1917. Fenyes-Curtin-Paloheimo Papers, FCP.35.11, Pasadena Museum of History Archives.

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Currently on exhibit at Pasadena Museum of History:

Crown City Jubilee: Celebrating Significant Anniversaries in Pasadena
May 9-September 14, 2014

In 2014, a record number of Pasadena institutions are celebrating significant anniversaries.  Pasadena Museum of History is adding to the individual festivities that will be taking place citywide throughout the year with a special exhibition this summer exploring the histories of some of these long-standing and beloved institutions, organizations, and businesses which have helped shape our City over many decades.

Crown City Jubilee will highlight eleven well-known institutions with displays of historic artifacts and clothing, photographs and ephemera: the Pasadena Unified School District (140 years), Pasadena Public Library (130), the Tournament of Roses (125), Vroman’s Bookstore (120), Mount Wilson Observatory (110), the Rose Bowl game (100), the Red Cross (100), The Langham Huntington (100), Westridge School (100), Pasadena City College (90) and the Pasadena Museum of History itself, which celebrates 90 years since its founding in 1924.

More than ninety other Pasadena institutions celebrating a major anniversary this year have been identified and will be featured on a timeline and in historic photographs on view in an anniversary video slideshow.

Events & Programming

Related programming will give audiences of all ages a chance to meet and hear from representatives from these institutions. In additional to lectures, the exhibition will be open for free as part of Museums of the Arroyo (MOTA) Day on Sunday, May 18, and on Sunday, June 22 for the annual Happy Birthday Pasadenacelebration in conjunction with the City of Pasadena.

 

(Prior text courtesy of PMH)

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Author, suffragette, California historian and advocate for Native Americans, Helen Elliott Bandini (1854-1912) was from a Pasadena pioneer family and married into one of the great Spanish land-owning families of California. A horn chair that may have belonged to a member of the Bandini family is currently on display in our Crown City Jubilee exhibit. (Text courtesy of PMH)




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