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.
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.
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.
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:
To be continued…