Mattie Jane Thweat was a relatively famous artist and the last child born to William Archer/Archibald Thweatt and Mary Catherine Jarman. The latter couple married in Lawrence County AL on 30 Sep 1835 and moved to Arkansas before the 1850 census. Mattie was born in Arkansas in 1854. Her mother Mary Catherine Jarman was the daughter of Amos Squire Jarman and Mary Green, both of whom lived in Lawrence County AL and are buried at the old Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery near Leighton. The cemetery property was formerly in Lawrence County but became part of Colbert County when the county boundaries were changed in 1895. Following the death of Mary Catherine Jarman Thweatt in 1858, Mattie and her slightly older sister Annie lived with their Jarman grandparents in Lawrence County from about 1861 until their grandmother Mary Green Jarman's death in 1873. Their grandfather had died 14 Dec 1861, but provided for them in his will written 22 Feb 1861, however the will was not filed for probate in Lawrence County until 25 Nov 1873 following his wife's death.
The information below was posted today to the Thweatt Family Forum on Genealogy.com, however the above information was added to provide some information about the link to Lawrence County. I have collected additional information about the Thweatt and Jarman families, which are not complete but do provide some collected information about both families and provide links to additional information.
Mattie Jane Thweatt Dubé
I am providing the transcription of a 1968 article about Mattie because the amount of information found online and in formal documentation is scarce, scattered, and slightly inaccurate. Before receiving a copy of the article, I had collected a substantial amount of information about Mattie and her family using censuses, online databases, and other resources, including cemetery listings from the US and France. The collected data and the article each support, supplement, and further the information provided by the other, as well as helping resolve the occasional error. Even though I am not related to Mattie, I have placed the collected information, including the text of the article, into my online personal genealogical database because I feel that the collected information will help other genealogical researchers and art historians know more about her.
Please note that the article does not use the accented “e” in her married name, nor in her husband’s name. Therefore the reader should mentally insert it as needed. I have inserted in brackets the correct spelling of her husband’s name and have added some supplemental information, also in brackets, to provide additional detail as necessary.
The citation for the article transcribed below is:
Faust, Betty M., "Mattie Jane Thweatt Dube," Phillips County (Arkansas) Historical Quarterly, 7 (December 1968), pp 16-20.
-- Les Tate, 2 May 2006
Mattie Jane Thweatt Dube
Betty McGinnis Faust
On my living room wall hangs an original oil painting almost one hundred years old. This picture was painted by one of Phillips County’s foremost artists, Mattie Jane Thweatt. The subject for this painting is my Greatgrandmother Cook’s open Bible with three open roses and rosebud [sic] from her rose garden on it. This Bible belongs to Mrs. James Cook, the mother of Sue Cook (see “Diary of Sue Cook” in the Quarterlies). The artist, Mattie Thweatt, was a good friend of Nannie Cook, [who was] one of the four Cook daughters and a sister of Sue Cook. Nannie Cook later married Rev. F.A. Jeffett, a Methodist minster and the father of the late Dr. W.F. Jeffett of Helena [Arkansas]. and grandfather of Frank Jeffett, now living in Dallas [Texas]. Because of this friendship between Nannie Cook and Mattie Thweatt, Miss Thweatt was a frequent visitor in the Cook home near Helena. She painted this picture as a gift for the Cook family. It was given to me by my aunt, Miss Frances Cook.
There is a companion picture to the one in my living room in the Phillips County Museum. This painting is hanging on the south wall of the museum. In this picture there is the same open Bible as in my painting. On the Bible is a pair of old fashioned spectacles and in the left corner of the picture is a brass candlestick and candle. Both paintings are oil on canvas, about fourteen by twenty inches, in ornate gilded frames. The painting in the museum was a loan from Miss Margaret Crebs, a granddaughter of Mrs. Cook.
There is another oil painting by Mattie Thweatt hanging in the living room of Estevan Hall, home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schatz. This large painting depicts a ship at sea with full-blown sails. “Miss Johnnie” told me that her father bought this beautiful painting at an art exhibit in Helena held by Miss Thweatt to finance a trip to Paris, France, for further study.
And Mattie Thweatt did go to Paris to study. My aunt gave me an undated clipping from the Helena World, published about 1920, that reads as follows
Mrs. Theodore Dube, formerly Miss Mattie Thweatt, was born in Phillips County and maintained a studio in Helena in 1883. Following the then growing practice of studing (sic) abroad, she went to Paris, where, after suffering all the privations and hardships of art tradition, she was honored by having a still life canvas hung in the Salon [referring to the Salon de Paris, aka Paris Salon]. She won fame as a mural decorator and portrait painter. She is at present living in Switzerland, although in ill health.
There is another painting by Mattie Jane Thweatt hanging in the living room in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Jarman on Perry Street in Helena. Mattie Jane Thweatt was a cousin [second cousin] of Mr. Jarman. There was no relation to Judge P.O. Thweatt of Helena. This large oil painting belonging to Mr. Jarman is of Yosemite Valley and was painted as a gift for Mr. Jarman’s grandfather, Amos Green Jarman. Mr. Calvin Jarman told me that Mattie Jane Thweatt was born Decmber 27, 1854, the last of ten children born to William Archibald Thweatt and Mary Catherine Jarman. Her mother, Mary Catherine Jarman, was a sister of Amos Green Jarman. “Colonel Jarman” was mentioned frequently in the Cook diary since he lived on the adjoining plantation to the Cook’s. The Jarman house was near the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 49 and Arkansas Highway 1 near Barton. Mr. Calvin Jarman says the trees in the front lawn fo the Jarman home are still visible from the highway even though the house has been torn down for many years. After Mattie Thweatt went to Paris, married Theodore Dube [Louis Théodore Dubé], and chieved fame, she returned to the Jarman home near Barton to visit. Mr. Jarman said that she wore the latest French gowns with trains sweeping the floor, and that she would hire a little Negro boy to carry her train for her wherever she went.
While Mattie Thweatt was living in Paris, she met her husband, Theodore Dube, who was also an artist. They had one child, a daughter named Theodora. When a young lady, the daughter Theodora fell in love with a young man who contracted tuberculosis. As was the practice in those days, he went to Egypt for the dry climate. Theodora followed the young man who she loved to Egypt, contracted tuberculosis herself, and died there in Egypt even before the young man. Her mother, Mattie Jane Thweatt Dube, never painted again after the death of her daughter in 1916 [Theodora’s grave at the PŹre-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris shows she died in 1912].
Mrs. Amos Jarman of Helena also has a smal oil painting by Mattie Thweatt. The subject for this painting is a lace handkerchief with fresh cut roses lying on it. This painting was purchased by Mrs. Jarman from the home of Mrs. A.D. Adams.
Mrs Fred Schatz has an undated newspaper clipping with further information about Mattie Jane Thweatt Dube. This article is entitled “Arkansan’s Famous Painting” by Nell Cotnam. It is accompanied by a picture of “the famous Dube painting acquired by Little Rock Museum of Fine Arts.” The article is as follows
The Little Rock Museum of Fine Arts acquired a famous painting last month. It is a graceful wood nymph by a native Arkansan, Mme. Mattie Dube.
It was valued by the French government at $50,000 and won for Mme. Dube a gold medal following its exhibtion at the Paris art salon in 1896. This was the first gold medal, it is said, to go to a woman, She was made an officer of the French AScademy with Palms of the Academy decoration.
The picture first came to Arkansas in 1929, when it was sent with other paintings by the artist, then living in Paris, to her sister, Mrs. G.G. Johnson [Annie C. Thweatt Johnson], when it was sent to the Museum in Little Rock, Mme. Dube having already made provision in her will for the bequest.
She had become interested in the Museum through correspondence with her sistere and had already made a gift of another painting, “Avant L’Enterrement,” which hangs in the large central salon of the Museum and has been admired by many visitors. It depicts a woman in deep mourning placing a wreath on the bier of a loved one. It was exhibited in Paris in 1898.
The artist was born near Clarendon on the White River and as little Martha Jane Thweatt, she loved to draw figures on the pages of her blue-back spelling book. Her talent was apparent even then and when the first opportunity arose she went to Nashville Academy of Fine Arts under Carlson and Duglars. Her training continued in Munich and later in Paris under Bougereau and Fleuret.
It was while she was living in Paris that she met her husband, Theodore Dube de la Garanne, also an artist. For many years they maintained a studio there which contained ma-many (sic) works of art and carved teakwood furniture, so fashionable in that era, which was the gift of an Oriental ambassador.
The studio, located at 59, Avenue de Saxe, was described in an article which appeared in the New York Herald, Paris Supplement, in 1891.
Mme. Dube was a painter of still life when she first began her career, but later changed to portraiture. Some of her early paintings which hang on the walls of the Johnson home in Fort Smith were done before she began to study.
Mme. Dube held her first salon in Paris in 1890. Her first picture of a maiden was painted in 1896, and when it exhibited in the salon of 1896, was so much admired that the Society of French Artists purchased it at a handsome figure, which gave the rapidly rising young artist great encouragement. She also received at this exhibition, as from the Paris exposition, a handsome gold medal.
In March, 1897, she painted a portrait of Mrs. Alexander McDonald fo Cincinnati. The Commercial Tribune of that city in its issue of March 28, 1897, says of the painting and the artist, “It is a beautiful creation. In this last piece of work, Mme. Dube has shown a virility and charm and careful consideration of values that mark her a master of her art.” She painted portraits of the Kittredges and Burkes of Boston and of many New York persons of importance, including former Tammany leader, Richard Croker. Mr. Croker took the painting with him to his home in Ireland.
The first Paris exhibition in which she participated was the Champs Elysee in 1890. Her canvases of still life brought her much praise and the Society of Friends fo the Arts purchased them.
In 1892, a canvas of a charming, simple city had great success and was acquired an an American by the name of Sturges who lived in Scranton, Pa.
In 1893 she exhibited at the Chicago Exposition. Her entry in the Paris salon of 1894 was a self portrait, life size. That same year she exhibited “Nymphe de Bois”, the wood nymph that now hangs in the Little Rock Museum. A Paris newspaper at the time said of it; “A sudy of admirable execution rendered with a sobriety of detail and a coloring that won just praise from the jury.”
Other thatn work exhibited, Mme. Dube produced many other paintings, among which were: “Affection Materneil”, that is in the collection of the Princess Lobanoff of Rastoff, and a number of portraits, including that of Miss Bruce, daughter of Senator Bruce of Boston; Marie de Marquette of Michigan, which hangs in the trown hall of Marquette; Mrs. Culbertson Stelman Eels, a wife a New York banker, and others.
She exhibited paintings at the Crystal Palace of Music and at the Royal Academy in London.
She stopped painting at the death of her daughter, Theodora, in 1916. She died on January 13, 1944, in Monte Carlo. Her last visit to Arkansas was in 1927.
When Theodora was three years old she posed for her mother for a painting called “Penitent.” It shows a little girl, with fair hair knotted upon her head, looking down sternly at her doll, which seems to be hiding her face in her hands. This painting is reproduced in French and American schoolbooks, including first year readers in Oklahoma and second year readers in New York.
There are five known paintings in Helena today by Mattie Jane Thweatt Dube, the Phillips County artist who achieved so much fame throughout the world. Perhaps there are more. Is there one in your home?
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