‘The Boston scandal’
Acrylics on linen
Size painting: 70 cm (w) x 100 cm (h)
Artist: Jitske Schols
Year of production: 2022
Frame: no frame
In 1915, Mary (nicknamed Polly) Phelps Jacob married Richard R. Peabody -like she- a blue-blooded Bostonian whose family had arrived in New Hampshire in 1635. They had two children, but soon she’d describe him as a well-educated but undirected alcoholic man and a reluctant father. When her husband was away at war, Polly met Harry Crosby, who was seven years her junior, at a picnic in 1920. Crosby was profoundly affected by his experience in World War I and vowed to live life on his own terms and abandoned all pretense of living the expected life of a privileged Bostonian. Polly and Harry had sex within two weeks and their public affair scandalized proper Boston society. After Richard returned from his service in World War I, he returned to drinking. Two years later he granted Polly a divorce and to her family’s dismay she married Crosby. Two days later they left for Europe, where they joined the Lost Generation of American expatriates in Paris and devoted themselves to art and poetry.
‘Never no’ was the motto of Caresse Crosby (born Mary Phelps Jacob; April 20, 1892 – January 24, 1970) and is the title of a series of paintings inspired by her life. She was the inventor of the modern bra, but somehow that was only a minor detail in her extravagant life. She was a notorious figure in 1920s Paris, embracing the bohemian life with indulgences like booze, opium and wild parties. She was the patron to the literary Lost Generation, moved in the highest artistic circles (Dali, Picasso), owned a castle, but unfortunately her story has been largely forgotten.
‘The Boston scandal’ is a painting on linen canvas and was produced in 2022 by artist Jitske Schols.