Attributed to ETHEL NEWCOMB FIELD, THE COUNTESS BEATTY, “Still Life,” 1896

$4,500

Oil on canvas
8 1/4 x 12 inches

Description

Ethel Newcomb Field, the Countess Beatty ((1873 – July 17, 1932) was a socialite and a member of the aristocracy. The daughter of American millionaire Marshall Field, she enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Marshall Field was the founder of the American firm Marshall Field’s . Beatty first married Arthur Tree, son of Lambert Tree, in an opulent ceremony held at the home of her parents, 1905 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, on 1 January 1891. They had one child, Ronald born 26 September 1897; however, she was having a secret affair with David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty,. Admiral of the Fleet. They married on 22 May 1901, ten days after her divorce from Tree was made public. The couple had two children: David, 22 February 1905; and Peter, 2 April 1910.  According to Robert K. Massie, Beatty was a poor mother, abandoning her son Ronald from her first marriage; she also left the children of her second marriage with her husband while she went on a gambling trip to Monte Carlo in 1912.  Peter had birth complications that affected his eyesight and muscle control for the rest of his life (thought to originate from a venereal disease carried by Ethel!) It was “generally accepted” in later years that Peter was illegitimate, the father being a “well-known member of the British aristocracy”, according to a Beatty family member. While David benefited from Ethel’s wealth, it was not a happy marriage, “I am the most unhappy man in the world”, David once said, “I have paid terribly for my millions”.

Although we lack certainty of the identity of “Ethel Field,” the painter of this exquisite still life, there are are two possibilities:

  1. Without information or illustrations, ArtPriceIndex lists:  “E. C. (Miss) FIELD (XIX) an artist born in XIX century.”
  2. A more likely attribution, judging by the elegant materials in the picture–the mother of pearl cigarette case, etc.,  is to Ethel Newcomb Field (Tree, the Countess Beatty) daughter of Chicago entrepreneur Marshall Field. Countess Beatty was famously painted in 1911 by Phillip de Laszlo. For Ethel , painting may have been a welcome pastime.