New Canaan’s Arianne Faber Kolb, an art historian, came across the name Abastenia St. Leger Eberle by accident one day several years ago. The water had been drained out of the lily pond in heart of the formal gardens east of Waveny House for a full cleaning, exposing the Eberle’s name at the base of a 1918 bronze of a nymph—the sculpture, “Lotus Fountain,” is known to thousands of New Canaanites—and prompting Faber Kolb to start researching. What she and fellow town resident Micaela Porta went on to discover about Eberle—a highly accomplished sculptor whose work has been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and four other women whose unique contributions helped form and document Waveny House and park as we know it today, would lead them to co-curate a new exhibition that launched last month at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. “Women of Waveny—Artists, Patrons and the Lapham Legacy” is open through March 31, 2022.
Located in a second-floor gallery in the Historical Society’s main building (13 Oenoke Ridge), the exhibition features six sculptures from Eberle as well as many photographs from Frances Benjamin Johnston—an early American photographer and photojournalist who took pictures of Waveny—and paintings, prints, ephemera and other works and images that tell the story of how they and Antoinette Lapham, Ruth Lapham Lloyd and Elise Lapham contributed to Waveny and beyond—women whose lives spanned 1864 to 2011, according to the show’s 35-page program, written by Porta.