In bloom signed 'Abbott Graves' (lower left) oil on canvas 40 x 62in
Most well-known for his lavish depictions of floral arrangements and gardens in the Northeast, Abbott Fuller Graves was a Massachusetts native with a passionate love of flora. After Graves was unable to pay his Architectural School tuition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was able to get a job at a greenhouse where he arranged flowers for weddings and events. By 1877, the talented florist began to paint these arrangements and, in 1881, he opened a studio, where he would complete a large body of work.
In bloom summarizes so many of the important characteristics for which Graves was popular during his lifetime and in the present day. Painted on a notably large scale, In bloom features a female figure in a flourishing garden overflowing with an extravagant display of blossoms and bushes. The varying jewel-like tones of each flower are applied to the canvas with confidence, demonstrating Graves' proficiency with the subject matter. The work is exemplary of the instruction he received from peers and teachers both domestic and abroad.
In 1884, Graves left for the first of several trips abroad to travel throughout Europe, this time, with a focus on Paris and Venice. While in Paris, the artist studied under the tutelage of Georges Jennin and met fellow Boston Impressionist Edmund C. Tarbell, with whom he became close friends. On subsequent trips, Graves would study with noteworthy artists such as Fernand Cormon and Jean-Paul Laurens and serve as Assistant Treasurer and Chairman of the Art Committee to the American Art Association of Paris.
When Graves finally settled in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1905, the artist built a home and studio which he called "Westlook" only to continue traveling in subsequent years to places such as Venezuela - to paint tropical flora - and the Caribbean and Florida. He would also later spend his winters in New York City in an effort to maintain his associations with institutions such as the National Academy of Design, The National Arts Club, The Salmagundi Club and Allied American Artists.