Mary Hall Caine
Mary Hall Caine began painting and drawing very early in her life.
By 12 she was being tutored and before she was 16 she was attending art schools in London and Paris.
At 13, her portrait appeared on the cover of a novel by Ridgewell Cullum, "The Treasure of Big Waters" and two years later she was asked by the author to paint a sailing ship which was used on the cover of another Cullum novel, "Sheets in the Wind".
"Treasure of Big Waters" Cover "Sheets in the Wind"Cover - painted in 1932
- Painted by William Abbey in 1930 by Mary at only 15 years of age
On the 27th of May, 1936 at 9:15 PM, the Carlton Club in London celebrated the National Derby running together with the maiden voyage of the Cunard Line's newest passenger liner, the R.M.S. "Queen Mary". At barely 19, Mary was asked to provide a painting of her horse to be used on the front cover of the Menu served the guests that night in the Carlton Restaurant. As compensation, she received an engraved riding crop which she used for the rest of her life.
The Subject, the Canvas and the Artist
Riding Crop and Menu Cover
Mary Hall Caine stopped painting during the war years and only resumed briefly between 1947 and 1953. Thereafter, she made a few attempts at the insistence of her family but was always disappointed with the results. In 1982, she was asked to lend her talents in capturing the horse on canvas by a well known portrait painter. Germaine Glidden, who had been commissioned to produce an official portrait of Ronald Reagan, asked Mary to help in painting the horse upon which the then President would be portrayed. That was the last time she picked up a pencil or brush although up until her death in 2003, she spoke often about using her painting talents to add brushstrokes to photographic images.
The final massive oil painting now hangs in the National Museum of Sport. For her part, Mary was presented with the original "preliminary sketch" done by Glidden of Ronald Reagan.
She was very critical of herself and almost never displayed her own paintings. While a few were lost to the elements with only photographs of them remaining, most were stored in a shed from the late 1950s to 1996 when what could be salvaged were moved to her Florida home. Once again she left them in a garage where there was no climate control either. Following her death in 2003, her son, Nicholas, had them professionally restored by Tess Murphy and carefully reframed by the Parsons of Fastframe in Palm City, Florida.
The before and the After
In total, some 50 works of art have been recovered ranging from oil and watercolor paintings to sketches using charcoal, crayola, pen and ink and pastels. While her best works were of horses, she also did studies of dogs and cats, an oil of her house in New York and a few portraits including at least two self-portraits.