Nestled all snug in her 19th-century waterfront studio in Hadlyme, Connecticut, overlooking the serendipitously named Whalebone Cove, artist Mary Maguire paints visions of birds, boats, and sea creatures that dance in her head. One might only dream of such a charming New England scene, but of course this is no fish tale.

Mary Maguire, a quintessential New Englander, is inspired by, and draws upon, historical pieces of art, creating a sea captain’s treasure chest of works. From whimsical animals and lover’s-eye portraits to garden follies and sailing vessels, her playfulness and powerful command of color make her pieces irresistibly collectible.

A native of Providence, Rhode Island, it’s no wonder maritime life figures so prominently in her work, as do nature and history. Growing up in the antique haven of New England, Mary spent her childhood scouring flea markets, on the hunt for interesting finds and antique prints, something she does to this day.

A former book editor at Knopf and Random House, Mary also maintained a small design business illustrating for Newsweek and Good Housekeeping. She spent three years at Conde Nast developing special projects for the New Yorker, Vogue, and Conde Nast Traveler, followed by a role as features editor of Lauren, a lifestyle magazine produced by designer Ralph Lauren. Perhaps Mary’s last stint as editorial director of The Muppets for the Jim Henson company foretold of the many fantastical creatures she would soon paint.

Mary’s fleet of original watercolors and hand-colored antique fine-art prints are often complemented with delightful one-of-a-kind vintage frames. From shells, antique gilt, and tiger stripes to Tramp Art, Eastlake, and Oxford-style Criss-cross, Mary’s editorial eye always strikes the winning combination, pairing the perfect frame to painting.

Living above her picturesque studio next to the Historic Hadlyme Ferry, she is undoubtedly influenced by her surroundings and perhaps inspired by the nautical spirit of the New England whaler who once lived in her very house.

Methinks the old adage rings true, “Old Sailors Never Die, They Just Return to Port” and, of course, Paint!


Photography: Timmy Dowling