Felix F. de Crano was an accomplished landscape, genre and ﬂower painter. Born in France, he studied in Paris, London and Rome and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
De Crano was lured to St. Augustine as early as 1881 from Philadelphia by the well-publicized development to the area, for which Henry Flagler was responsible. As Gary Libby claims in Celebrating Florida: Works of Art From the Vickers Collection, he arrived in St. Augustine in 1893 with over 50 completed canvases of New England subjects, New Jersey coastlines and scenes of Venice, Italy.
Throughout his years at the Hotel Ponce de Leon, de Crano occupied Studios #1, 2 and 5.
He was often written about in The Tatler, Saint Augustine’s society newspaper. Many of the Tatler articles praise de Crano for the breadth of work seen is his studio, from Italian landscapes to “female ﬁgures in repose” to scenes from Saint Augustine, such as Fort Marion. One article mentions his “Cherokee Roses” painting, perhaps comparable to the painting that now hangs at the Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine. In 1896 de Crano redesigned the masthead for the paper.
In 1899, de Crano and his wife had become permanent residents of St. Augustine. They bought their house, The Shingles, on Sevilla Street. After de Crano’s death in 1908 in Pennsylvania, his wife continued to keep his studio at the Hotel Ponce de Leon open to the public.
Author: Whitney Warren Shafer
Sources: Gary Libby, ed., Celebrating Florida: Works of Art from the Vickers Collection, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995) 88; The Tatler, (Saint Augustine, January 14, 1893 and March 31, 1894).