Mary has known that she wanted to be an artist since early childhood and she has made this a lifelong pursuit. She attended Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a BFA in Painting, Design and Sculpture. Shortly after graduation, she visited Paris intending a short stay, but remained for almost forty years. While there she studied life drawing for two years at the Carrousel du Louvre and showed her work at the Salon des Independents, the American Embassy, the American Cathedral, the Mona Bismarck Foundation, and many one-woman shows at the American School of Paris and Marymount School. Mary received many portrait commissions, both there and in the US where she returned regularly to visit her family on their farm in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Currently, her portraits hang from Dubai, to Paris, a castle in Scotland (Ambassador Pamela Harriman), Milan, Paris, England, and, in the US, from Greenwich, to Tampa and Atlanta to Los Angeles with the G.H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station in between.
Currently, Mary receives about fifteen portrait commissions each year mostly by word-of- mouth. Painting is her life and a peaceful, almost daily, retreat into her studio. When not painting, Mary enjoys her two-hundred year old plantation home, “Whispering Oaks,” with her husband on the outskirts of Charleston, SC. Mary is an award winning member of the Atlanta Portrait Society, the Charleston Artists’ Guild, the Southeastern Pastel Society, and of the Copley Society in Boston. She has an ongoing FaceBook conversation with many followers where she discusses her current projects as well as certain aspects of her work such as the relationships shown between multiple subjects in the same painting (e.g., a favored pet, siblings, or a couple). So, her work is not only realistic portraiture but an attempt to capture the emotional relations of her subjects. Mary also has a website, www.MaryVillondeBenveniste.com, which shows much of her work.
Mary has enjoyed her visits to Boston with her husband who has “roots” there from his days as a student at MIT and subsequent work in the technology sector. She enjoys travel and it is an integral part of her work as she enjoys visiting clients in their homes, or other suitable sites, for a photography session that precedes the actual portraiture. Following the photo session, Mary reviews the images with the client and selects one or more to be the basis for her portrait. So, there is no need for a lengthy sitting. She recently traveled there for a portrait of Dean Emeritus William F. Pounds of the Sloan School, MIT and it would be a delight to come back to “bean town” for another commission. “Boston is, like Paris, a special place and I enjoy coming there.”