Each of us holds a special memory from childhood. Sometimes it's an image from a movie, or perhaps a special children's book character; for me, it is a picture on a zigsaw puzzle. I speak of an image of a painting on a popular puzzel from the early 50's. I believe the puzzle company was called Tuco. My Mom, sister, and I spent many hours piecing that puzzle. I was also intrigued by the peaceful coastal scene, painted in the impressionist style. Its shaded street led to a misty seacoast. Many years later, I became an artist and I had to revisit this scene of my childhood. I soon discovered that there was very little written about the artist, F. H. Mckay. This article is a personal inquiry in hopes that someone might provide me with more information about this fine impressionist.
Unfortunately, there is little written about F. H. McKay. I was only able to accumulate a few descriptive lines regarding this painter. What little information that exists is from several online auction sites, art and genealogy forums. I have absolutely no confirmed documentation for the facts below, so consider this information as "hear say." From what I could gather, McKay's full name was Frances H McKay, a female artist born in 1880 (date of death unknown) in Rockport, Maine. She painted primarily coastal scenes (usually with trees and houses along a path leading to the ocean). Many of the paintings also had figures in them. The style is impressionist. Some limited information can be found from the Washington-based "Women In American Art" organization. http://www.genealogyboard.com/mckay/messages/1698.html
"The subjects are all very similar - coastal scenes. Some of the scenes are very reminiscent of Maine, while others could be from the English countryside or the south of France. On the back of one painting was information that the artist had spent time in both places. Often, the paintings have figures with dress that looks more European than American. In all cases, the dress is that of simple folk. With all the collecting I have done, the artist remains a mystery to me. I am still actually confused as to whether the F is for Frances or Francis and I have seen both. In one posting for an auction, it referenced that F.H. McKay's works were on display at the 1939 World's Fair in New York."
Without uncovering concrete evidence, I can only speculate the possibilities Undoubtedly, F.H. McKay will continue to fulfill my nostagia of those idealized villages, with their picket fences, seacoast cottages, shady streets that end near the sea, and strolling couples forever frozen in the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.