Louise W. Shanks was born in Massachusetts and schooled in New England. Shortly after the premature death of her husband, she moved to Saint Augustine, Florida and became a member of the Saint Augustine artist colony.
Shanks worked in oils and is notable for her landscape and figurative paintings. She was a Representational artist until the 1940s, when she joined the Modernist faction of the Saint Augustine Arts Club (now known as the Saint Augustine Art Association), along with fellow local artists William L’Engle and Tod Lindenmuth.
The “Bal Masque” represents the first annual Beaux Art Ball, held in the Lightner Museum in 1949. The event was sponsored by the Association to raise money for its building fund. The theme of the ball was “A Night in Fairyland.” The figure in the red suit in the foreground won the prize for “most amusing costume” for her rendition of the Devil’s wife. This painting of Shanks’ is featured on the cover of Robert Torchia’s book Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950.
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