Mary Villon de Benveniste has built her reputation as a portraitist on both sides of the Atlantic. When she is not on her family farm outside of Leesburg, Virginia, she lives and works from her home in the heart of Paris, France.
Mary’s first subjects were her siblings and pets. "My favorite moments during childhood was when my father would bring me the big box of Crayola crayons," she recalls. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Fine Arts degree, she studied life drawing for two years at the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, "Then", she explains, "I set out to find my own way." Detailed studies of her son and daughter provided an opportunity to explore new artistic styles. Requests for commissions began to occur after she contributed pieces to a benefit at her children’s school. Now, with a repertoire of over 300 portraits she has been commissioned by families associated with Schlumberger, Lazard Frères, the United States Embassy, Dreyfus World Bank, Credit Lyonnais, Citibank, the Wall Street Journal, the Reader’s Digest, EuroDisney, IBM and other multinational companies.
Her work has been shown at the Salon des Independants, Grand Palais, Paris from 1990 to 1995, the American Cathedral in Paris, and one woman shows at the Marymount School, and American School, Paris, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Amsley Golf Country Club and Swann Coach Inn and the Potomac Gallery in Leesburg, Virginia. She has an extensive clientele in Surry, England, Atlanta, Georgia, Greenwich, Northern Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida.
Three years ago while attending a Fourth of July party at the American Embassy in Paris, Mary talked with an acquaintance of former President George Bush and his wife Barbara. The conversation led to a portrait of the Bushes, completed the days following the September 11 attack. "I met them and took photographs at their home in Kennebankport in early September 2001," said Mary, "then shortly after 9/11 I immersed myself in the portrait. It was sort of a security blanket."