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John J. Enneking: A New England Impressionist

 

As its summer exhibition, the Cahoon Museum of American Art presents "John J. Enneking: A New England Impressionist." Running through August 30, 2003, the show features about 50 paintings by an exceptional artist who thrilled to the woods, trout brooks, apple orchards, hills and pastures of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

In 1915, Boston artist John J. Enneking (1841-1916) was honored with a dinner at the Copley Plaza Hotel that attracted more than 500 artists, museum directors, art collectors and city officials. When he died the following year, the Boston Globe called him "one of the world's greatest landscape painters." Then, from the '20s into the '60s, Enneking was largely forgotten until a stash of his paintings was rescued from long storage in a warehouse. (right: John J. Enneking, Portrait of Grace, c. 1906, oil on canvas)

Since then, exhibitions at Vose Galleries of Boston, the Fuller Museum of Art in Brockton and Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine, among others, have helped revive Enneking's reputation. With five paintings by the artist in its permanent collection, the Cahoon Museum is now proud to play a part in aiding in the rediscovery of an artist whose landscapes seem as fresh and honest today as they did a century ago.

Born in Minster, Ohio, Enneking grew up on a farm and was orphaned at the age of 15. He began attending college in Cincinnati, but interrupted his education to fight in the Civil War. After being severely wounded, he spent a few years studying art and trying different careers. After settling in the Hyde Park section of Boston, he launched a tinware business that eventually failed. His wife, Mary, encouraged him to devote himself to painting and he enjoyed enough success that, in the 1870s, he could afford to travel to Europe with his family. He studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, painted many pictures of Venice and the Swiss Alps, and ended up spending three years in Paris. He became friends with such artists as Charles-Francois Daubigny, Camille Corot and Jean-Francois Millet, whose Barbizon styles influenced many of his paintings.

 

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