Behold, A New Eden: Laura Woodward and the Creation of Palm Beach

February 10 – May 20, 2018

Laura Woodward (1834-1926) was Florida’s most important female artist of the 19th century, one of its greatest publicists, and integral to the development of Palm Beach County. Born in up-state New York, and very accomplished as one of the Hudson River School painters, by the late 1880s Woodward had joined others of that group for their winter sojourn at Henry Morrison Flagler’s famous Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. She tired of the landscape and ventured farther south in search of the more lush, tropical “jungles” of which she had heard intriguing reports. By 1893, she had convinced Flagler to extend his East Coast Railroad and build the Royal Poinciana Hotel which both enabled and attracted tourism to Palm Beach and all around the Lake Worth Lagoon, as it was called. This exhibition will bring together numerous of the extant oil paintings and watercolors of sites from Jupiter to Miami which Woodward used to entice Henry Flagler to look southward—to Palm Beach and Boca Raton—in search of the “New Eden” of oceanside tourism.

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