1877 - 1951
Blondelle Octavia Edwards Malone lived an interesting and independent life and came into contact with some of the era’s most noted artists. She was born into a prosperous family near Bostwick, Georgia, and spent her childhood in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1892, she entered Converse College in Spartanburg, where she studied art. In 1897, desperate to expand her horizons, she went to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League where she took classes with noted impressionists William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, and Robert Blum. She spent the summer of 1899 in the artists’s colony of Cos Cob, Connecticut, where she continued study with Twachtman and gained exposure to other Connecticut impressionists whose work greatly informed her development.
At the request of her parents, she briefly returned home to South Carolina, but eventually convinced them to let her return to New York where she resumed studies with Twachtman, and began to gain some recognition with book cover designs. Again she was persuaded to return home, but only for a brief period before she left for California, and then went on to visit Japan, for one year; and to Europe. She initially visited Italy in 1904 and spent an extended period in Venice. She also traveled in France, England, Holland, and Ireland. In France, she sought out prominent artists, such as Auguste Rodin and Mary Cassatt, as well as dignitaries and aristocrats. The highlight of her sojourn, however, was a visit in December 1904 with the artist she held in the highest esteem—Claude Monet, who lived in Giverny. She gained his acquaintance, solicited a critique of her work, and was allowed to paint in his famed garden. She also encountered other American expatriates working in the area, including Frederick MacMonnies and Theodore Butler.
While in Europe, Malone grew more serious about her art, exhibiting in some notable venues and dedicating herself to working in a modified impressionistic approach. She is best known for colorful floral landscapes. Her carefree existence came to an abrupt end when she received word from her father in December 1915 that her mother had died and that she must return home. She acquired a home and studio in Aiken, South Carolina, in 1916, but in 1920, she moved back to New York. After her father passed away in 1930, she purchased property in Alexandria, Virginia, became active in historic preservation, and continued painting into the 1940s. In her last years plagued with health problems, Malone returned to Columbia, South Carolina, where she lived out the remainder of her life in a nursing home until her death in 1951. She left a sizable bequest to the Columbia Museum of Art; her work is also represented in the permanent collection of the Morris Museum of Art.