Claus, May Austin - portrait of a lady

This miniature portrait of an unknown lady is signed "A M Claus 1919" for May Austin Claus (1881-?). She is thought to have been born in Berlin NY, Aug 1881, probably the daughter of Henry Lewis Austin (Jul 1857-20 Mar 1929) and Josephine Eliza Baldwin (Aug 1858-20 Apr 1901).

In the 1900 census, Henry is recorded as a photographer living in Berlin, NY with Josephine and two daughters; Mary (probably should be May?) aged 18, also a photographer and Maud aged 11. It was quite common for photography and miniature painting to be a combined occupation. The census record is interesting as May's birth date is recorded as Aug 1881 and her parents are recorded as having been married for 19 years on the census date of 27 Jun 1900. Thus it seems possible May was conceived before her parents were married.

It appears that several years after his wife Josephine died in 1901, Henry, then aged 44, married Julia B Vanderkerker aged only 19 (29 Jan 1889-?) of Stillwater NY on 28 Aug 1908. As Julia's mother's maiden name was Sarah Baldwin (1854-?), it seems possible she was related to Josephine Baldwin, perhaps a niece.

In the 1920 census Henry and Julia are both recorded as photographers and have a daughter Coline Winifred Austin aged 7. Julia's mother also lived with them. The 1930 census shows that after Henry's death, Julia maintained her photographic studio but was remarried to Lewis Fish a novelty mechanic.

According to one record, May Austin was married in 1904 to A S (J?) Clause. The source for this is believed to be; Edith Austin Moore, "A Genealogy of the Descendants of Robert Austin of Kingstown, RI"; St Petersburg, FL, 1951; pp.432. However this may have been wrongly transcribed as May's husband is believed to be William Anton Joseph Claus (1862-1926). He was born in Germany in 1862, according to the 1920 census of a German father, but his mother was born in India and was presumably English, as her mother tongue is recorded in the 1920 census as English.

Confusingly, May may have used different names, as in the 1920 census, William A J Claus aged 58, a landscape artist is recorded as living with his wife Sarah A Claus aged 37, also a landscape artist, in Boston (NB has transcribed Sarah's age as 77, but it should be 37). From her age, place of birth, and occupation it seems this must have been May Austin Claus. In 1905 William A J Claus was recorded as the Principal of the New England Conservatory School of Drawing and Painting, see ART NOTES.

There is an excellently researched article about May Austin Claus under the heading " The Artists of Anne of Green Gables" at Shining Scrolls Online This article discusses the artwork on the cover of the famous novel "Anne of Green Gables" which had long been attributed to May Austin Claus and her husband, but it is now believed to have been based on a portrait by a different artist. 761

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