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Caroline Farncomb Gallery
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Title: Painting - "Dora Sayers"
Identifier: 2005.4.3
Donor: Barbara Larson
Item Date: c. 1916
Image Creator: Museums of Mississauga
Creation Date: 2006
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A framed oil on canvas painting of Dora Letitia Sayers by Caroline Farncomb. The painting is a head and shoulders portrait of a young child, wearing a loose fitting white dress and bib. The background is brown. The painting brush strokes are very loose and undefined. The child has large brown eyes, ruddy cheeks, and sandy brown hair. The painting is framed in an oval wooden stained frame with an inner gilt border. There is a sticker on the back of the frame that reads: 'Color Wheel, McLean, Virginia, 70 3-356-8477, framing, restoration'. History: The portrait is of Dora Sayers (1915-2004), painted by Caroline Farncomb, a family friend and renowned artist. The picture was stored rolled up for over 80 years as Annie did not like the painting. She felt that Dora looked too sad. Dora recently had the painting framed. She relayed to the Museums' of Mississauga Manager, Annemarie Hagan, in 1995 that she felt this picture was a true likeness and that she often felt morose as a child. Dora Sayers Caro (1915-2004) was born in Clarkson in 1915, to Beverly and Annie Sayers (née Harris). Dora lived close to Benares in a number of homes, including 'Skidoo', 'The Pines', and later 'The Log Bungalow'. During World War I, Dora lived at Benares with her mother and brother while her father was overseas as an officer. Dora first started acting at age 10, appearing in school plays, and later in local stage productions in Mississauga and Oakville. To gain experience, she found work at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre, working with children’s theatre productions.In 1936, at the age of 21, Dora moved to New York and found work with the touring company of What Every Woman Knows. Dora’s first big break came a year after arriving in New York, in 1937's Stage Door. She later appeared in the long-running Broadway production of My Fair Lady. The pinnacle came in 1941, when Dora was chosen to be the understudy for the legendary Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.The Tony award winning playwright, Moss Hart, took one of his shows to the American-occupied Pacific islands during World War II, to entertain the troops. Dora joined his cast for The Man Who Came To Dinner. Dora also helped form the United Services Organization in 1941. The USO provided health and recreational facilities for soldiers and administered church services, but was best known for the travelling vaudeville reviews that entertained Allied troops in Europe and the Pacific during WWII.Dora married actor Ralph Forbes (pronounced RAYF) in 1946. Forbes appeared in over 70 movies from 1921 to 1944. He and Dora met in 1942 during the stage production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives. Ralph died 5 years after he and Dora married, in 1951. Dora later married Jim Caro in 1954 and retired from the stage. Jim and Dora were avid equestrians, as well as breeding and showing thoroughbred dogs. Dora and Jim lived in France and the Bahamas before settling in the United States. She lived in McLean, Virginia - near Washington D.C. - until her death in 2004. Caroline Farncomb (1859-1951) was a close family friend of the Harris family and a well respected artist. She studied with Mlle. Van den Broeck in London, William Chase in New York, and in Paris at the Académie Julian. She exhibited her work in Canada and Europe, receiving many first prizes in exhibitions in London, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Farncomb painted her surroundings including her family, friends, animals, and landscapes. A number of her paintings can be found at Benares including a portrait of Mary Harris, Arthur Harris, Brownie the cat and a still life of birds. Caroline acted as the chaperone for Annie Harris and two of her friends in 1903. Caroline never married and died in London, Ontario on November 13, 1951. For information on Caroline Farncomb and the Académie Julian, see: Gabriel P Weisberg and Jane R. Becker, Overcoming all Obstacles: The Women of the Académie Julian.
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