Eustis Estate

Mary Elizabeth Cutting Buckingham

We know very little about Mabel Stuart’s career as an artist. We know that she trained at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and that she and another woman shared a summer home and were part of a summer art colony in Scituate, Massachusetts. It seems likely the two were in a committed relationship. Sometime after that partner’s death, Stuart seems to have become involved with Beatrice Herford of Wayland, Massachusetts. Stuart’s headstone in the Wayland Cemetery reads “Mabel Stuart / 1867–1939 / Portrait Painter / Dear Friend of Beatrice Herford.”

Beatrice Herford (1868–1952) was an interesting character, a vaudeville actress from England who moved to the U.S., married a Wayland man, and established a vaudeville theater in that town that survives to this day. Her comedic monologues were well received in theaters in London and New York; her friends included theatrical royalty in both countries – Ellen Terry and Ethel Barrymore, among others.

The inscription on the headstone is intriguing. Does it suggest a loving relationship between the two women? Of course. But single women like Stuart are often the victims of speculation about their orientation.