Sarobia: Home of an American Impressionist Painter

Postcard of Sarobia - Undated

Undated Postcard found on Ebay

The most renown individual who lived and worked on Sarobia during the span of the experimental commune was an artist named Richard Blossom Farley (RBF). Not much has been written about this painter. According to a publication scribed by the Historical Society of Bensalem, Farley was poet who built a tower for himself on the Logan estate, called the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost House,” and was the one who constructed caves in which to live by the river during the summers, as mentioned in the previous entry about the art colony.

Richard Farley at Sarobia's barn. Tower house in background.

Richard Farley at Sarobia’s barn. Tower house is in the background. Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Bensalem

Born in 1875 at Poultney, Vermont, Richard attended the New Jersey State Model School in Trenton, New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, exhibiting his work at the latter institution from 1902 until 1931. He studied painting under James McNeill Whistler—most notably known for the masterpiece: Whistler’s Mother—American Impressionist William Merritt Chase; and Cecilia Beaux, a well-known, Philadelphia portrait painter.

Farley exhibited his work at many venues besides the academy: Philadelphia Art Club, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., St. Botolph’s Club in Boston, and the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco.

Originally a portraitist, RBF began to specialize in seascapes painted at the New Jersey Shore, moving in the meantime to Sarobia at the invite of Sara Logan, who took him in when she found he had contracted tuberculosis, her believing “that the fresh air of Bucks County [PA] would help him recover,” according to a 1956 article from Philadelphia’s The Evening Bulletin.

The painter’s artwork nowadays has been appraised for thousands of dollars, offered for sale by galleries and auction houses in the Philadelphia and New York City areas. The most expensive price tag found was listed as being $125,000 for a 1913 painting called Durland Farms, offered for sale by a gallery in Palm Beach, Florida; an astronomical amount of cash for his artwork which sold presumably for barely a small percentage point of that price during Farley’s lifetime.

Painting by Farley

Durland Farms – 1913

Recently, an old tavern was remodeled and opened for business under new owners in the Art Alliance building at Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, inside which survives a splendid mural of birds, painted by Richard Blossom Farley. Other large murals of his are found at the National Center for the Theosophical Society in America, the organization to which the Logans were connected, as well as Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Farley’s paintings were numerous and can be found for sale on the Internet, along with some of his drawings and sketches.

Part of Farley's Mural at the National Center for the Theosophical Society in America.

A Section of Farley’s Mural at the National Center for the Theosophical Society in America.

The artist lived the apparent life of a true bohemian, especially during his stay at Sarobia, remaining a close friend of the Logans until the painter and poet’s death in 1954, two years before Robert died and bequeathed his estate to Pennsylvania. Only one of the painter’s works was found that specifically referenced Sarobia indirectly, that being Farley’s painting entitled: Lowlands at Eddington, PA, as seen below with two more examples of his works:

Painting of Lowlands at Eddington, PA, by Farley

Lowlands at Eddington, PA

Eagle Road

Eagle Road – Painting looks as if the scenery was at Sarobia

Painting of three naked women on the dunes at the seashore

Call of the Dunes – 1921 – Seems like call of the wild, to me.

To be continued…

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About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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4 Responses to Sarobia: Home of an American Impressionist Painter

  1. renee tataren says:

    Hello, I remember Sarobia as a child. It was beauttiful. We recently went back to there with our scout troop. We love to see more photos of Sarobia in its hey day.

    • The Historical Society of Bensalem has quite a collection. One of these days I’m going to return there to rummage through their assortment for more photos for this series. Do you remember how the main house was positioned on the property? Was it like I had imagined it in this superimposed photo of the mansion’s painting onto the present-day field? Click here for the image. Thanks for commenting.

  2. renee tataren says:

    Those sand dunes were at neshaminy state park. They are still there.

    • Where are those sandy dunes? I’ve seen some along the riverbank, but they aren’t as large as those in the painting. Of course the painting was created around 80 years ago and erosion could have whittled them down. I’ve noted some dunes along the Neshaminy Creek close to State Road. Could that be them?

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