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Artists of the Guild of the Seven Arts

A new exhibit is on view at Museum of Darien, inspired in part, by the bus tour of historic Darien homes, taking place on May 19th. The new exhibit features works by prominent members of the Guild of the Seven Arts, including award-winning artist Dorothea Warren O’Hara, John C. Huffington and photographer Margaret Bourke-White, among others.

The Darien Guild of the Seven Arts, established in 1927 to promote local artists and their craft, attracted nationally acclaimed artists who lived in and around Darien. Dorothea Warren O’Hara, one of the original founders of the Guild, was a watercolor artist and a pioneer of the studio pottery movement in the early years of the 20th century. She made a 10-acre farm on Appletree Lane her home in 1918.

John C. Huffington’s work is arguably the most highly-regarded today of any of the Guild artists. A watercolor and oil paint artist, he developed his impressionist style as a result of a temporary impairment of his eyesight. Another founder of the Guild, he came to Darien in 1889 from his native Brooklyn and moved from his home in Cedar Gate to a houseboat near the White Bridge on Five Mile River.

Margaret Bourke-White a close friend of Robert Fatherley, founder of the Darien Historical Society, through whom many of her works were obtained, was one of the most prominent photographers of the 20th century. Bourke-White first gained national attention when Time, Inc. founder Henry Luce hired her as chief photographer for Fortune. She went on to work as one of only four staff photographers on his 1936 start-up Life magazine, taking the photo that appeared on its first issue. For the next 30-plus years, her work at Life defined photojournalism. She had a house on Point-O-Woods Road South and was briefly married to novelist Erskine Caldwell (Tobacco Road, God’s Little Acre).