The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Because of heavy family responsibilities, the American painter Milton
Avery (1885-1965) began his formal art training late. Born in upstate New
York, where his father was a tanner, the family moved to East Hartford, Connecticut,
just as Milton was entering his teens. At 16 he went to work in a factory
that made screws; later, as the household grew, he worked as a latheman and
as a mechanic.
After the deaths of his father, a brother, and his sister's husband,
he became responsible for nine dependent women and children. But if factory
work provided the household's livelihood, it was art that provided Milton
his: painting was his means of existence, as necessary to life as breath.
He sandwiched art training at the School of the Art Society of Hartford into
a schedule that included the night shift at an insurance claims company in
Hartford. In time, he was able to spend summers at Gloucester, Massachusetts,
painting, and it was there that he met and married fellow artist Sally Michel.
In 1926, with Avery now 40 and his wife still in her 20s, the couple moved
to New York City. It was agreed that Sally would be the breadwinner, Milton
the painter. It was a successful arrangement that lasted until Avery's death
in 1965. The couple's only child, March, was born in 1932.
Southgate MT. Sea Grasses and Blue Sea. JAMA. 2003;290(1):13. doi:10.1001/jama.290.1.13