Mary Louise Fairchild
This painting might have been done during an extreme powerful storm that occurred in
1904. Mont saint Michel in the background is a granite Island surrounded by salt
marshes. The tides can vary at 46 feet between high and low tide. The blur of elemental
forces are rendered more tragically in that impressionist painting.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Mary Fairchild was a painter of both light-filled and
tonalist figure, portraits, and landscapes, and won numerous awards and recognition
including membership in the National Academy of Design.
She was of "blue-blood" lineage as a descendant of Governor William Bradford of the
"Mayflower." When her parents moved her to St. Louis, she began art study at the St.
Louis School of Fine Art, and then she studied in Paris at the Academy Julian and with
In 1888, she married sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, and they lived and entertained
fashionably in Paris where among their frequent guests was James McNeill Whistler. The
couple summered with their two daughters in a 14th-century monastery in Giverny where
they became good friends with Claude Monet and his family. A next door neighbor was
Isadora Duncan, who danced nude in her garden.
Both she and her husband earned high recognition at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. She
had a large mural, displayed opposite one by Mary Cassatt, and two paintings, and her
husband's large fountain was the central feature of the exhibition.