Felicie Waldo Howell Information and Inventory

Felicie Waldo Howell

(1897 - 1968)

Felicie-Waldo-Howell-Gloucester-Harbor-from-Rocky-Neck_f

Felicie Waldo Howell 

(1897-1968) 

 This woman artist was an absolutely outstanding talent who fully deserves significant scholarly and market attention, not unlike the acclaim that Jane Peterson, twenty years her senior, has received. I quickly associated Howell’s work with Cape Ann, since she frequently visited the region during the 1920s and 1930s aboard her husband’s yacht, often painting while on the vessel gazing shoreward. In 1947, she established permanent residence in Rockport for the next half-dozen years. Inspite of my perception of Howell as a Cape Ann artist, the first piece I acquired of hers was a breathtaking watercolor revealing an almost imaginary image of a small girl staring into the backlit window of an antique shop in New York City. The glass and crystal objects sparkle like jewels, while the girls face is obscured by a red tam o’shanter, directing the viewer’s gaze towards the window. I discovered this piece at Ken Lux’s gallery in 1985 or so. A few years later, a large work on paper became available through a private dealer who eventually proved less than honorable (which is another story). This exceptional example, dated 1923, is virtually stripped of color except the brilliant green of the boat’s hull. Despite the almost monochromatic palette, the sophisticated range of tans and browns succeed in making a familiar subject look totally new to our eyes. Both of these paintings reveal the influences of Maurice Prendergast on Howell in the use of watercolor. Almost two decades later, I acquired two oils by Howell within months of each other. The first is a marvelously textured scene of the rarely painted region in the center portion of Cape Ann, called Dogtown. Perhaps the off-putting sound of the  name facilitated its purchase at a Christie’s house sale in 2005, but I was delighted. A second oil came up at Seabreeze Auction a month or so later, which I aquired. This piece revealed another side of Howell’s considerable skills, a complex floral still life. While viewing this painting with an artist conservator friend, I commented, “Why would any artist set up such a challenging composition, weaving the background Belgian tapestry-like images with the random placements of the flowers, and all with a relatively narrow color range?” My friend thought for a moment and replied, “Because she could.”

Felicie Waldo Howell Gallery