Abbott Fuller Graves was a renowned specialist in decorative open air garden paintings and floral still lifes. His use of thick, impasto brushstrokes, bright colors and natural light, most evident in his later garden paintings, shows the influence of European impressionism.
Born in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1859, Graves studied both in New England and abroad. He attended, but did not graduate from, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although already considered one of the best flower painters in Boston, Graves went to Paris and Italy in 1884 to continue his studies. In Europe, he roomed with Edmund C. Tarbell and studied still life painting.
After returning to Boston in 1885, Graves became an instructor at the Cowles Art School. Also teaching there was his close friend and colleague, Childe Hassam. The two painters undoubtedly influenced one another. In 1887, Graves returned to Paris to study figure painting at the Academie Julien. There he studied under Cromon, Laurens and Gervais until 1891.
After 1891, the majority of Graves's works depict gardens and floral landscapes. Often these oils, pastels and watercolors include female figures. Some portray exotic gardens of Spain and South America. The bright sunlight and bold use of color and paint, as well as the subject matter of the garden paintings, reflect the influence of European impressionism on Graves's work.
Throughout his career, Graves continued his travels between New England and Paris. In 1891, he opened his own art school in Boston. The school moved to Kennebunk, Maine and closed in 1902. From 1902 to 1905, Graves was employed as a commercial illustrator for magazines in Paris. When Graves died in 1936, he had achieved wide acclaim as a specialist in garden painting, both in New England and Paris.