Florence did what women fallen on hard times once did with big family houses and nothing but the memories of dead relatives for riches. She mourned the loss of her 16 year old brother, her father, her sister and mother and opened her house to boarders who happened to be artists.
I think artists like to be mothered. They never fully grow up and demand summer vacation like the rest of the children. I know this because I’ve recklessly thrown away any serious job I’ve ever had a chance at in favor of art and childhood. Even as a teacher staying in the lines never happened and syllabuses were thrown to the wind just long enough to inspire a few Peter Pans before moving on.
Florence seems to have been one of those forgotten women who saw their nurturing, quiet nature as a positive–the artists who flocked to her house for thirty years obviously appreciated her as well. She was still of a time when self sacrifice and creating cozy interior spaces for others was held as a woman’s right and calling. Understandably not every woman wanted to be Florence, but it seems every artist who met her wanted to repay her for her nurturing.
When in later life she grew frail and might lose the house artists of fame and renown banded together to not only save the house for her but restore it to its original beauty. A quiet life, acts of simple love and the inspiration for some of America’s great artists. Oh, what our little deeds mean to others–we may never know.