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Flags A-Flying: Claire Shuttleworth

Claire Shuttleworth is among the few Western New York painters deserving of being counted among the best. Her legacy, a body of Impressionist-influenced work, stands out among the art created by the many talented artists who lived and worked here.

Shuttleworth was born in Buffalo in 1867 to Laura (Wheeler) and Henry J. Shuttleworth. Her father was a banker and stockbroker.

Claire Shuttleworth, Flags a-Flying, circa 1918. Courtesy of Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

Young Miss Shuttleworth was imbued with creativity, and pursued a musical education. Early hearing loss, in the 1880s, prevented her from attaining a musical career.

She had always enjoyed casually painting and drawing, and after the retreat from music, dedicated herself to it. Her family had the means to allow her to do so.

Shuttleworth began studying under George Bridgman (1864-1943) at the Buffalo Art Students League. In 1894, she traveled abroad to further her education and exhibit in the Paris salons. The first painting she entered in foreign competition, prior to beginning her studies, won a Medal of Honor at the Academie Vitti.

During the summers of 1894-1899, she studied at several European studios—including that of noted American Impressionist Frank Vincent DuMond (1865-1951). DuMond held landscape-painting classes in France and Italy. Shuttleworth also attended classes at the Academie Vitti, where she had earlier enjoyed her first brush with international success.

In 1897, her paintings were shown at a prestigious exhibition in Rome. Later that year the Chicago Art Institute invited her to display the same pieces. By 1899, she had shown five paintings in important European exhibitions.

She returned to Buffalo and was honored by her inclusion in a fine arts exhibit at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901.

Around 1910, Shuttleworth began depicting the Niagara Falls and River areas. Her beautifully rendered canvasses show an uncommon understanding of these oft-painted scenes.

During the First World War, Shuttleworth created one of her most enduring works: Flags a-Flying. Showing a downtown view from Main and Court Streets, Flags a-Flying is unabashedly patriotic, and recalls the work of Childe Hassam.

The painting, in the permanent holdings of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, is one of the finest works in their collection.

Shuttleworth never married, and had no children. At the time of her death, in 1930, her art was distributed among friends, or simply sold off. Only a small amount of her important works has resurfaced. It remains sought after by discerning collectors throughout the area, as well as a growing number of knowledgeable collectors throughout the country.

David F. Martin’s original text for “Niagara’s Visual Music in the Paintings of Claire Shuttleworth” (Western New York Heritage, Winter 2003) was an invaluable source for this article.

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