Where to continue about such a luminous character? Not much is written about Richard Blossom Farley (1875-1954), an American Impressionist, artist and bohemian poet, who lived on Sarobia during the last years of his life. Images of his paintings are available on the search engines by entering his name. Many of his actual works are available still for purchase.
Doing an Internet search on Richard Blossom Farley brings up information about Richard Farley, the mass murderer; Chris Farley, the comedian found dead of a drug overdose, and mostly galleries selling one or more of Blossom’s paintings.
A previous entry in these ramblings presented what information about Blossom is available on the Net, without joining a public-record, ancestral Web site. Additional tidbits were taken from a book written by the Bensalem Historical Society. They have a nice collection of photographs and paraphernalia from Sarobia. I’ve been meaning to get back there and spend some more time perusing.
The Theosophical Society in America, to whom Farley was associated, has an informative entry about him, which is an interesting read in their association’s own WiKi.
Most noteworthy to me in that article was the acknowledgement by the Philadelphia Sketch Club (PSC), an organization to which the artist belonged, who recalled the painter as being a slim man with a “well-trimmed beard.”
The notation went on to read:
He dressed like a gentleman of the early 1900s with a derby, rolled-up umbrella, high-top shoes, etc. One day he came to lunch and was delighted to report that he was now the last living student of Whistler, since he had read that the only other living student had just died.
Farley was known for his murals, portraits, wildlife, land and seascapes, having been classically trained in fine arts and natural science; but “Blossom abandoned painting murals, complaining that housepainters were making more [money],” according to the PSC.
Aside from all his accolades, Farley’s personal life was left behind in bits and pieces. Jack, my informed contact, told me a few stories about the painter, which will be relayed at some point during this ongoing series. However, as far as background information regarding Blossom’s personal side goes, “he was a very private person,” Jack said.
I broke down and joined a public-documents site on the Internet to see if I could find out more about Richard Blossom Farley, how he died and where he was buried. There I found answers to my most nagging questions.
Blossom, as he wished to be called by his middle name, had three brothers: one died a few hours after birth; and two others preceded the painter in death. He married Abigail Rosenthal in 1914 and had a son and daughter with her: Richard Blossom Jr. and Abigail Freberne. The family lived in the rural farming district of Newtown in Bucks County, PA, now a thriving urban area.
Farley’s parents died a year apart from one another: the mother in 1925, and the father in 1926. No records were found about when Abigail died nor if their children are still alive. It’s unlikely they might be around, but one never knows. The son was born in 1918 and the daughter in 1920.
According to records, Blossom changed residence and was listed as living in Philadelphia in 1935. The 1940 US Census recorded the artist as living still in Philadelphia at age 64. His marital status listed as being widowed, evidence Abigail had died before then.
No other public documentation supported Farley’s whereabouts after 1940, except for his death certificate in 1954; so presumably in the early ’40s was around the time he moved to Sarobia, which brings us up to where we left off.
Unfortunately, this is the only photograph of Blossom Farley that I have found. Perhaps others are located in the historical society’s collection. Maybe Jack will find one in his assortment of slides. Only time will tell.
More to follow. Thanks for stopping by; and as always, for your continued support.