Art Connections: From the Lost Generation to Haleakalā

Fanny Myers Brennan was an artist that painted on a very small scale. I featured one of her works on a Wordless Wednesday posting not too long ago. Before I knew she was an artist, I was familiar with Ms. Brennan as the friend of Honoria Murphy Donnelly and the daughter of Dick and Alice Lee Myers, friends of Honoria’s parents, Sara and Gerald Murphy. From my reading of Everybody Was So Young (a book about the Murphys and their circle of friends in Paris and Antibes in the 1920s), written by Amanda Vaill, I became interested in this particular group of friends and Ernest Hemingway in particular. Really, these creative people I have found to be infinitely inspiring and also find I never tire of their stories and I never tire of learning about their lives.

Fanny and Honoria were lucky enough to hang out on the beach of La Garoupe in Antibes when they were very, very young. They got to play with Picasso and Hemingway, as well as the Fitzgeralds and others. Fanny and Honoria remained friends from their idyllic childhood on the beaches of the Riviera until old age. They both were married and had children. When Fanny was raising her family, she stopped painting for years until her children were grown. Fanny started painting again and specialized in small scale (as in approximately 2 inch by 3 inch) paintings of a whimsical nature. 

I recently acquired a framed print of Letting Off Steam. Just to emphasize the small scale of Fanny’s works, I once more present an image of Letting Off Steam, and then the signed and numbered version I could not resist. Why does this little print mean something to me? Well, to be so interested in this group of friends (Picasso, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, the Murphys, etc.) and to actually have and own a representation created by someone so connected to them makes me very happy, not to mention the image itself and how I personally like it and feel such affinity to this image of a mountain/volcano.

–Letting Off Steam, Fanny Brennan, hand-crafted lithograph on Arches
cover paper, paper size: 6 x 7 in., image size: 2.5 in. x 3.5 in.

–picture of the print I recently acquired. You can see how talented Fanny was and the small scale in which she enjoyed working!

One of my favorite Hemingway short stories is The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Seeing images of this mountain and reflecting on the story and how superbly crafted and unforgettable the story is, I really wonder if Fanny painted this mountain image of Letting Off Steam without thinking of Ernest and the other adults she knew as a child. Probably not. Also, my only sibling and brother lives in Hawaii on the island of Maui, just under the dormant crater of Haleakalā. So the image of a volcano/mountain causes me to think of him and how idyllic his life can be at times. Therefore, this image speaks to me on at least two levels. I don’t think I will get tired of reflecting on this small work of art due to these connections.

  2 comments for “Art Connections: From the Lost Generation to Haleakalā

  1. February 21, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Thanks for this post, Denise. I didn’t know about Fanny so this was really interesting. Enjoy your painting! Like you, I have a major crush on the Lost Generation!

    All the best, Allie

    • February 21, 2012 at 4:07 AM

      Well, it is a print of a painting, Allie. But I really like it. Might have to get another soon. A really cool print of an aqueduct with a sailboat going across! The first sight I really saw in the south of France was the Pont du Gard aqueduct that must be the inspiration, perhaps, as well as the boats they got to sail on like the one the Murphys owned.

      Very nice interview, I must say, with the rare book collector. Cheers, MDC

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