Jamestown Historical Society

Jeanne Bunkley

Jamestown artist Jeanne Bunkley (1918-2012), shown here in a self-portrait, captured the character of Jamestown in her two series of charcoal sketches that she called “Men of Jamestown.” “Men don’t like to sit. They yawn and fidget,” she said in an 2007 interview. She induced her subjects to pose simply by stopping them on the street and asking. Jeanne was hard to turn down and over 100 men agreed. She usually completed her sketch in less than an hour.

The pictures have often been on display in Jamestown. The first series was introduced with a reception on October 24, 1981, at St. Matthew’s Parish Hall where they were on display until October 30. They have since been exhibited at the Jamestown Philomenian Library in 1996 and 2007 and at the Jamestown Police Station in 2015.

Although Jeanne sold some of her sketches, those that remained in her collection were given to the Jamestown Historical Society after her death. Click HERE to see these charcoal sketches from our collection.

Jeanne also worked in oil and watercolor. Her commissioned oil portraits of General William W. Wotherspoon and Vice Admiral Stanfield Turner hang in the Army and Navy War Colleges, respectively. Her landscapes “Houses on the Hill. Spring Time”, “Beavertail Lighthouse”, and “Watercolor of Beavertail Light” are in the JHS collection.

Jeanne Barbaresi was born in New York. She studied art in New York at the National Academy of Design, the Arts Student League, and the Grand Central School of Art. She later lived in Mallorca, Spain and Rome, Italy. She was married to Lt. Raymond L. Frese, who died in 1944 in service during World War II. On June 6, 1951, she married Rear Admiral Joel William Bunkley, USN, Ret. (1887-1967) a highly decorated naval officer, who was the commanding officer of the California, sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jeanne and Joel moved to Jamestown in 1954 and bought the Mallinckrodt Cottage at the top of the Shoreby Hill Green. In 1985, Jeanne moved to Columbia Avenue where she had an art studio.

Jeanne was a founding member of the Conanicut Island Art Association and, in 1975, originated and directed the Jamestown Christmas pageant, which was based on a living nativity she remembered from her childhood. She had a master plan for the pageant. The Girl Scouts were the angels, and the Boy Scouts were the shepherds. Mary was an outstanding eighth grader, and Joseph was an outstanding man in the community. The music was always the same and the animals were real.

Click on this link to see more about Jeanne Bunkley and her artwork from our Online Catalog

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