Harry Leith-Ross, (1886-1973), Of Days Long Past, ca. 1959, oil on canvas, H. 20 x W. 40 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Endowment Challenge Gift of Mrs. Harry Leith-Ross.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and to say love is in the air is definitely an understatement!  Love is everywhere, especially in art.  I recently moved into the fabulous region of Bucks County – where art not only exists, but where some significant movements began. It got me thinking about these Bucks County artists who painted such amazing, romantic views of the landscape, the local life, and their love lives!

In my quest to learn about and hopefully be able live vicariously through the love stories of these artists, I have come across two fascinatingly adorable couples: Emily Abbott Nordfeldt and her husband B.J.O. Nordfeldt, and Harry Leith-Ross and his wife, Emily Leith-Ross.

Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt (B.J.O.) came to this country from Sweden in 1891 at 13 years old. Before the end of the twentieth century, he had gained accolades for his etchings, portraits and woodcuts, thus marking the beginning of his productive artistic career.  In 1933, he began teaching at the Minneapolis School of Art, where he taught Emily Abbott and immediately a deep friendship and reverence developed.  Nordfeldt eventually moved to Lambertville in 1937 and it wasn’t until sometime after 1944 that the he and Emily got back in touch, and eventually became romantically evolved.

This reconnection occurred through a series of letters and drawings that Nordfeldt wrote and created for Emily, to help express his feelings for her and the world around him.  Over the next few days, I will be posting some of these drawings along with their accompanying words on our Facebook page so you too can enjoy the development of this great venerable love!

The other couple that I came across who truly shared a deep and very long-lasting love were Emily Slaymaker and and Harry Leith-Ross.  Harry Leith-Ross was born in Mauritus in 1886, raised and schooled in Scotland and England, and moved to the U.S. in 1903 when he was seventeen years old.  After studying in Europe, he returned to the  U.S. and ended up on the East Coast.  In 1925, he met Emily Slaymaker, a Chicago native, in an art school in Rockport Maine where Harry was employed. At the time, Emily was getting private instruction in painting from the school’s founder.  Harry, fifteen years older than Emily, was immediately taken by her and conscious of it.  Emily also fell for Harry, though it took her some time to realize it.  Just ten days after meeting, Harry proposed to the young Emily in a cemetery after having dinner together!  They were married later that year.

Emily Leith-Ross wrote about her life and love with Harry.  Over the next few days I will be disclosing more about their love through their own words on our Facebook page.

So remember to check out our Facebook page daily for updates on the progression of these two epic Bucks County love stories!

-Sumreen Z Chaudhry, Michener Intern