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Best known for her summer garden and beach scenes painted along the New England shore, Mabel May Woodward was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and, except for summers at Gloucester, Massachusetts and Ogunquit, Maine, spent most of her life there. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, she continued her education at the Art Students League in New York City. In 1900 she returned to Providence to join the faculty at her alma mater, where she taught for many years. Though Woodward has not been the subject of scholarly attention, we know from the titles of her works that she traveled often. In addition to summers along the east coast, she visited and painted in France, Italy and Holland. She also made at least one trip to the southern United States, stopping in Charleston, New Orleans and along the Florida coast. Though Woodward rarely dated her scenes, she usually identified their location in the title. The bold brushwork and bright palette are typical of Woodward's style, described in 1938 as "a kind of impressionism . . . or a development of impressionism to a more descriptive painting." (Sisson, Providence (RI) Journal, 1938)
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