Although recognized as one of the leading artists in New York City during the 1930s, remarkably little is known about Mabel Dwight’s early years, other than the fact that she studied briefly at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, either in 1896-97 or 1897-98. After ostensibly traveling for several years in the Middle East and Asia, around 1903 she settled near Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan, where she strove to establish herself as a painter and illustrator. Dwight’s marriage to Eugene Higgins in 1906, though, placed her artistic ambitions, as she described, “in abeyance” for some eleven years. Only in parting with Higgins in 1917 did her career begin in earnest.
A turning point came in 1926, when Dwight traveled to Paris to study lithography in the atelier of Edouard Duchatel. A year later she returned to New York dedicated to working almost exclusively on stone. Her prints were championed by Carl Zigrosser, then director of the Weyhe Gallery, who published fourteen of her lithographs, including The Ocean, Coney Island, under the gallery’s name in September 1928. Later that year, Zigrosser showed the print as a part of Dwight’s first one-person exhibition, held at Weyhe from November 26 through December 15.