Ann Crane was educated in Europe and was a student of the French academic painter Luc-Olivier Merson. On her return from Paris she studied under the noted American Impressionist John Twachtman, whose influence is clearly evident in her work. Ann was known in New York art circles and exhibited regularly at the National Academy of Design, the MacDowell Club, the Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, as well as at art galleries such as E & A Milch. She also showed her work at the Philadelphia Academy of Art and in Old Lyme, Ct. In Bronxville she organized exhibitions of local artists at the Women’s Club and in her own art gallery in The Towers well into the 1930s. Well-known masters such Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, as well as the leading American painters of the day, were represented in her exhibitions.
Ann Brainerd married the celebrated landscape artist Bruce Crane in 1904 and by 1910 had listed Bronxville as their address. Ann remained in Bronxville until her death in 1948. They summered in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where Bruce had established himself as an important member of that artist colony. Ann, however, often felt overshadowed by her famous husband and would choose to stay behind during the week in Bronxville and join Bruce and their daughter Ann on weekends in Old Lyme. Both of their children, A. Bruce and Ann Francis-Marie married in April 1937, five months before their father’s death.
The Willows is a one of very few paintings that have come on the market in many years and is a fine example of Ann Crane’s work. Through the bare branches of two willow trees on the snow-laden bank of a river are buildings, a farm perhaps. These buildings are re- flected in the intense blue water, the trees are silhouetted in snow and light and the artist unifies the composition by adding touches of the pinks and reds of the building in the tree branches. Although probably executed in the 1920s, the painting has a decidedly modern feel and expresses a distinct vitality that marked Ann Crane’s painting style.