Anne Drusilla Apperson Flint 1929


¾ Portrait standing, looking directly at the viewer. Her gaze is open, but serious. The sitter leans her left arm on a richly decorated dresser with her right hand holding her coat over her left forearm. She is wearing a sleeveless light-gray silk dress, with a red coat over it that has slipped down over her shoulders to her elbows. Her dark hair is short and wavy. As jewelry she wears a delicate river pearl necklace, pearl ear clips and a gold wedding ring and on the same finger in front of it a solitaire diamond ring.

JQAW# P_1929_120
Oil on canvas 125 x 85 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1929
Yale University, USA Inv.No. 1969.89

Anne Drusilla Flint, née Apperson, 20.4. 1878 San Simeon CA to 13.7.1970 Shelton CT, cousin foe of Citizen Kane (William Randolph Hearst).
Anne Drusilla was born in 1878, the daughter of Elbert Clark Apperson (1851-1900) and Elizabeth Anne A., née Sutherland (1859-1904), who had married on 17.12. 1876. She had a younger brother, Randolph William A. (1897-1965). Her unusual middle name came from her grandmother Drusilla (Drucilla) Anne Apperson, née Whitmire (1816-1904). The family's life was greatly influenced by Elbert's sister Phoebe Apperson (1842-1919). The latter married George Hearst (1820-1891) in 1861, who had achieved great wealth as a mining entrepreneur in California's gold rush and was later (1886) elected to the U.S. Senate. This enabled Phoebe Hearst to support her brother and his family. By 1870 George Hearst had acquired a large ranch of about 1,000 acres in Pleasanton California, which would later become known as the Hazienda del Pozo de Verona (named after a 15th century well imported from Verona), and which the Hearst couple used as a summer residence and after 1891 served as Phoebe Hearst's primary residence full of eclectic architectural features (architect: Julia Morgan). Anne Drusilla's parents were the caretakers of the property, where she grew up in close contact and as a confidante of her aunt Phoebe Hearst, along with the latter's only son, the future newspaper magnate -- and model for Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane (1941) -- William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). The relationship between cousins Anne Drusilla Apperson and William Randolph Hearst may have been friendly at first. Anne Drusilla helped her aunt Phoebe care for William Randolph during his illness (depression) in 1893-1894 (B. Procter, William Randolph Hearst, the Early Years 1863-1910, 1998, p.72).

Philanthropist Phoebe Hearst, who was also the first female regent (board member) of the University of Berkeley, generously supported the university's newly established Institute of Anatomy to which Professor Joseph Marshall Flint (1872-1944) was appointed in 1902. (She also funded the creation of the University of Berkeley Museum of Anthropology, to which she donated numerous historical artifacts and which is named after her.) Anne Drusilla Apperson and Joseph Marshall Flint met and were married on Sept. 15, 1903, at the Hazienda del Pozo de Verona. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon at another of Phoebe Hearst's country estates, Wyntoon castle, near San Francisco. The Flint couple had no children. In 1919, Phoebe Hearst died and bequeathed the Wyntoon estate to her niece, as well as a substantial sum of money ($250,000, in today's money terms, about 3 million) and a Cadillac. The couple moved to Wyntoon after Flint's retirement from his professorship at Yale in 1921 and adapted the estate with several buildings. Their enjoyment of their new property lasted only a short time, however. Anne Dusilla's cousin William Randolph Hearst, who had inherited most of Phoebe's fortune, would not recognize his mother's will concerning Wyntoon and harassed the Flint couple with his attorneys. The Flints eventually sold the estate to William Randolph Hearst in 1925 for about $200,000. The two cousins remained (em)bitter(ed) enemies thereafter.

As early as 1924, the Flints applied for passports and embarked for Europe, taking up residence in Vevey, Switzerland, and traveling to numerous European countries. At the outbreak of World War II, the couple returned to the United States and took up residence on the East Coast. Widowed in 1944, Anne Drusilla lived in New York and Connecticut, where she died in 1970. In her will, she generously endowed several U.S. universities (Princeton, Yale, and Berkeley), dedicating also her 1929 Adams portrait to Yale University in 1969. Anne Drusilla Apperson-Flint is buried at Oak Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in San Jose, California. At least in death, she thus returned to her California roots.

The 1929 portrait, previously documented in the literature as well as in Yale inventories as "Mrs. Joseph Marshall Flint," is listed here with the sitter's own name as used by Mr. and Mrs. Flint in their 1924 passport application. Stylistically, the painting is a characteristic late work of the artist, in which the contours, as well as the decorative accessories (dresser, clothing, jewelry) remaining in a portrait of a lady, are dissolved in fleeting impressionistic contours. Even the background, previously often executed as a stylized landscape background in women's portraits, is abstract in this work. The uni-colored background is structured only by expressionistic brushstrokes. The color scheme is reduced and dominated by brown, gray and dark red tones, reminiscent of Dutch Old Masters. The personality of the portrayed is captured by the serious, almost somewhat bitter expression, from which no smile escapes. Although greatly favored by fate, the bitter inheritance disputes with her cousin have probably left lasting traces. As with the portrait of her husband Joseph Marshall Flint, it is likely that it was painted in Europe (Switzerland or Vienna), since there is no record of Adams traveling to the USA in 1929. The portrait remained in the possession of the sitter until it was donated to Yale University shortly before her death in 1969. Thus, the Flint couple remains united in the gallery of the dean of Yale's medical school even after death.


On permanent display Dean’s Hallway, Yale Medical School, New Haven.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 232, cat.#199, ill.#134 (B/W) (there incorrectly dated with 1930).


1969 bequest to Yale University, Inv.Nr. 1969.89