Date Published: 1900 to 1964
Binding: Hard & Soft cover
Helen Mason Grose was born and buried in Providence, Rhode Island, Helen Mason Grose (née Helen Bowen Mason, was an artist and book illustrator.
This collection is comprised of the remnants of Grose’s personal papers (circa 1900-1964). The archive has approximately 100 b&w photos, most of which at one time were pasted into a photo album. Many depict Grose in youth and old age, painting and drawing, pencil and paintbrush often in hand, her husband (Howard Bristol Grose), gardens and residences, children, students in a classroom setting, men in uniform, and members of Grose’s family. Many of the photos are unidentified. There are also a dozen images of Grose’s works, 4 of which are real photos, postcard size and smaller. A highlight of the archive is a water color painting, apparently entitled “Cherry Blossoms”, signed by Grose in pencil in the lower right hand corner, frame measures 16 3/8 × 13 ¾ inches, single matted, with an image opening of 9 13/16" × 7 3/8".
There are approximately 80 letters and cards in the correspondence. A major correspondent is Jacqueline Rambaud in France, a librarian in Paris and a specialist in old manuscripts, who Grose sponsored during and after. She wrote 45 letters to Grose, 9 in French, with photos of her children. There is a handwritten note by Grose of the profile of Rambaud’s family, their background, and suggested needs. Approximately 10 letters are from Howard (Dick), Grose’s husband. They are romantic and loving in nature. He encourages her to paint, and writes to her about re-decorating and building their home, his work, and having dinner with her parents. Other correspondents include Henry H. Apple (the president of Franklin & Marshall College, Dr. Edward H. Mason (Grose’s brother in Montreal), W.E.H. Mason (a nephew in the Canadian army), Charles H. Overly (artist and publisher), and James de Wolf Perry (the Bishop of Rhode Island). The collection also has much ephemera: typed poems; new clippings; Howard’s calling card tucked into a hand-painted parchment folder; a typed copy of Grose’s resumé which was compiled by a Mary Whitlock in 1964; and a typescript (8 pp.) on the “Preparation of Gesso".
A few excerpts from the correspondence:
From Rambaud, 18 February 1947: “The situation here is not very good: no coal, food etc..., no newspapers for these two weeks, but I think we are not so unhappy than Bulgarians Romanians, some Russians and even Englishmen who seem to go through a terrible crisis on that time. I didn't know if things will ever come back as before the war, for prices are so high now that but a little few can buy all that they need. You are very happy to have still your parents, my father died in March 1945, only 67, he could not suffer war’s privation and the winter 44-45 was more than he could support... I saw last week a painting exposition of Van Gogh that I would like you can see. He has such beautiful yellows, and blues and violets, that it is a marvel. All the coloured reproductions you can see are wrong and cannot tell the beauty of the painting.”
From Howard B. Grose, 26 September 1921: “If you empty the romance all about you especially the girlish reticence of the dormitory, just imagine, dear Helen, that this note is written in heart’s blood flowing from the veins of a longing and faithful lover. I do miss you ever so much, & am glad too that you are having such a good spell in the open. Your devoted lover”.
Post-marked 8 August 1930: “Ah, rogue, selling all your best pictures--and now I shall never see them--and your exhibition coming on in the fall--it does seem like taking a mean advantage of me helpless in Providence--and Miss Frankenstein will get the finest one of all, for you can't beat her race when it comes to a sense of values--and I should probably always have a feeling of something beautiful gone out of my life and not quite knowing what it was. Well, I hope you will have one or two of the poorest pictures, at least, to bring back with you. Of course, dear, I know it makes you feel good to sell pictures, and I congratulate you. If I were you, I should keep that money as velvet. You were absolutely forbidden to use it for board and lodging; at the altar or parlor rug, or whatever we were married at, I undertook to provide those. It is a very serious thing for wife to leave her husband's bed and board. You have already left my bed; if you now leave my board, you will be committing desertion or something under the Rhode Island laws.”
Helen Mason Grose’s (née Helen Bowen Mason) husband was Howard Bristol Grose (1879-1958), an English professor at Brown University. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Museum of Art in Boston, and the Art League in New York City. Her teachers included Sidney Burley (water color), Elizabeth Shippen Green (illustration, life), Frank Benson (life), William Howe Foote (illustration, life, pencil, charcoal), N.C. Wyeth (oil, pencil), and George Woodbury (marine painter). In her art, she worked with water colors, aquatints, pencil, ink, and pastels, and specialized in floral compositions, marine views, architecture, life models, landscapes, portraits, fishing villages, and house and street scenes. Her works can be found in galleries, libraries, and universities in Rhode Island and with many private collectors. Her speciality was as a book illustrator where she excelled for a period of approximately 15 years from 1914 to 1930. Some of the books that she illustrated include the following: Eleanor Porter, Just David (1916), Oh, Money! Money! (1918), The Tangled Threads (1919), Across the Years (1919), The Tie That Binds (1919), and Mary Marie (1920); Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Seven Vagabonds (1916) and The House of the Seven Gables (1924); Kate Douglas Wiggin, Creeping Jenny, and Other New England Stories (1924) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1925); Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1920); R.D. Blackmore, Lorna Doone (1917); etc.
Collection on consignment with LDRB