Skip to main content

Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Nancy Douglas Bowditch and Brush Family papers, circa 1860-1985 | Digitized Collection

Nancy Douglas Bowditch and Brush Family papers, circa 1860-1985

Biographical Note

Nancy Douglas Bowditch (1890-1979) worked primarily in the New Hampshire area as a painter, author, and costume and set designer. Bowditch's father was painter George de Forest Brush and she was first married to painter William Robert Pearmain, who died at an early age.
Nancy Douglas Bowditch was born to Mary and George de Forest Brush on July 4, 1890 in Paris, France. Along with her siblings Mary, Jane, Thea, Gerome, Tribbie, and Georgia, she often served as a subject of her father's paintings. The family lived in the artist colony of Dublin, New Hampshire where Nancy became close friends with their neighbor Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) daughter Jean Clemens.
Nancy met and became close to one of her father's pupils, William Robert Pearmain while traveling through Europe in 1907. Two years later, Nancy married Robert at the Brush family farm in Dublin, New Hampshire. Together, they had one daughter, Mary Alice whom they called Polly. Robert developed a strong political interest in growing anarchist movements, gave up painting and went to Pittsburgh to work in a factory. Shortly after, he became seriously ill and, upon the advice of a doctor, moved back to New Hampshire with Nancy. He soon died from leukemia in September 1912. In 1918, Nancy married her second husband Dr. Harold Bowditch from Boston, Massachusetts. With her second husband, Nancy had three more children, Martha, Henry, and George de Forest Bowditch.
Professionally, Nancy worked as a painter, wrote plays, and designed theatrical sets and costumes. In 1971, Bowditch published a biography of George de Forest Brush entitled
The Joyous Painter
. Nancy Douglas Bowditch died in 1979.