A person contacted me, curious to see whether I had come across anything about her grandfather in my research on I.N. Phelps Stokes. Said they were friends, that she had pictures of them together at a Paris fancy-dress ball in the 1890s. Fancy dress equalled cross dressing in the terminology of the time; the two men were got up as Greek peasant women — wish I had a copy of that one. Who was your grandfather, I asked. Howard Cushing. I couldn’t recall any specific reference, though the name sounded familiar. Was he a banker, I said. Errr, no, she said. He was an artist.
Afterwards I did a little digging and found the man’s diaphanous work, which hangs among other places at the Met and the Whitney. There would have been more had he lived longer, but he died suddenly at 47. These two canvases depict his wife, Ethel Cochrane, whom he is said to have sketched or painted over fifty times.
Quite beautiful. I would have liked to see his rendering of Edith Minturn.