Mary Ann Avery, née Ogden, was the wife of Samuel Putnam Avery, the American print-publisher, collector and philanthopist. They had two sons, Samuel P. Avery jr (1847-1920) who became an art dealer and collector, and Henry Ogden Avery (1852-90) who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1852-90) and worked as an architect.
Through her husband, who was appointed the Art Commissioner for the United States at the French International Exhibition in 1867, Mary Avery came into contact with JW. It was through her husband that a selection of JW's etchings and four paintings (Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 33), Wapping (YMSM 35), Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) and Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green: Valparaiso (YMSM 73)) were shown. The Averys came to own a number of works by JW, including Portrait of Whistler with Hat (YMSM 23), Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101), Subject Unknown (YMSM 157), Portrait of Mr Mann (YMSM 158), Sketch for 'Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony' (M.319), Sketch of Maud (M.497), Three Peacock shutters (M.580) and Fighting Peacocks (M.581). As Secretary of the Union League Club, S. P. Avery organised the earliest exhibitions of JW's oils and etchings in America. Indeed, he was one of the first to make JW's etchings known in America and was responsible for introducing his work to a number of significant patrons. The two men were in correspondence throughout the 1870s and into the 1880s.
The Diaries, 1871-1882, of Samuel P. Avery, Art Dealer, Beaufort, Madeleine Fidell, Herbert L. Kleinfield and Jeanne K. Welcher (eds), New York, 1979; Usher, Elizabeth R., Samuel P. Avery 1822-1904: Pioneer American Art Dealer, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979; Sieben-Morgan, R., Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), Engraver on Wood: A Bio-bibliographical Study, MLS dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1940); Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; McClinton, K. M., 'Letters of American Artists to Samuel P. Avery', Apollo, vol. 120, 1984, pp. 182-87; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995 Fidell-Beaufort, Madeleine, 'Samuel P. Avery', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 18 July 2002).