Mary Benson

Alice De Lamar spent her winters in Palm Beach, FL, and in 1942, she opened the first art gallery in the city at 347 Worth Avenue. She named it Worth Avenue Gallery, and for the next 23 years, the gallery was central to the arts scene in Palm Beach.

Even though Alice owned the gallery, she preferred anonymity and placed her friends Mary Dugget Benson and Emily Rayner as co-directors. This is typical of the elusive Alice, who never wanted to be in the spotlight.

Mary Dugget had met Eva Le Gallienne in 1918 when she was an extra in a play starring Eva. She was 10 years older than Eva. Eva fell in love with “Mimsey,” and while their love affair ended after three years when Mary married the sculptor Stuart Benson, Eva and Mary were life-long friends. Alice and Mary were also close friends.

Mary Benson and Alice De Lamar   (1933)

Emily Rayner was the sister of art gallery pioneer Betty Parsons.

Worth Avenue Gallery’s annual Left Bank-styled clothesline shows drew large crowds, often popularizing the work of unknown artists.

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A side note: Stuart Benson was later to sculpt a bust of Alice, which today sits on a shelf in the Weston, CT library.

 

Benson met a sad ending.

stuart benson

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