Editor's note: The following Foreword, Introduction and sample biographies from the illustrated 2001 book Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition, ISBN 1-885435-18-5, was published on August 23, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of the author and the book's publisher, Twin Lights Publishers, Inc. Copies of the book may be obtained (as of August 2004) by forwarding $29.95 plus a $4.50 mail and handling fee to Thomas Davies, 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, CT 06480.
Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition
by Kristian Davies
(above: front cover of book)
From the dust cover of the book:
The biggest surprise I had in working on this book was that such a book did not already exist. Of the many art colonies that have emerged in America -- Old Lyme, New Hope, Woodstock, the Hoosier School, Taos, Provincetown, Laguna, Ogunquit and Cornish -- virtually all have been the subject of art books that define the significant members and present examples of their work. All have been the subject of such books except Cape Ann -- the oldest, most continuously active art colony in America.
Such regionally-focused art books are usually the barometer by which one measures the importance of a colony or a style in a larger art history context. But Cape Ann's 150 year contribution to an American artistic identity is much greater than would be suggested by a quick browse through the art history section of a bookstore. Indeed, such a book is long overdue.
Many painters who worked on Cape Ann have been the subject of independent studies or exhibitions. Fitz Hugh Lane, Winslow Homer, Stuart Davis, Frederick Mulhaupt and many others have been featured in books or catalogues covering their individual body of work created on or inspired by Cape Ann.
The selection of artists to be included in this book was, of course, a tricky process. Indeed, those readers familiar with Cape Ann art who have their favorites may be puzzled by the presence of certain painters and bewildered by the absence of others. The original list of artists considered was far too long, therefore, a broad impression has been attempted, beginning with Fitz Hugh Lane, followed by the Luminists and other artists of the Hudson River era, Tonalism through Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, the Ashcan School and the Modernists.
Some painters, like Hassam and Hopper are national icons. Their presence adds prestige to the legacy of the region, and one often discovers that their visits to Cape Ann had a profound change on their work. Other painters, like George W. Harvey and William Lester Stevens have been included because of their importance as gifted homegrown artists, born in the region. Many of the artists were trained in the best salons of Europe, while others were entirely self-taught. And while some visited for a single summer, others moved to Cape Ann and stayed for the remainder of their lives. The hope is that a broad and diverse survey has been attained, both known and unknown, those whose work has saturated art books and others whose most basic biographical data is still unknown.
A majority of the pictures in this book came from private collections, and have been reproduced here for the first time. Many gems from 'minor' artists were discovered in this way, which will hopefully foster renewed interest in their careers.
Much thought was given to how the artists would be sequenced. Although artists of certain styles, Impressionism or Modernists, did arrive in "waves," there were so many painters of various techniques working simultaneously on Cape Ann that to arrange them purely by their techniques would imply an artificial continuity from era to era. It was decided to arrange the artists in order of when they arrived on Cape Ann. In only a few cases was this date impossible to determine. For those artists, their placement was based upon an educated guess.
I have always had an affinity for concise biographies about artists, illustrating general impressions or salient moments in their lives. Rather than placing an emphasis on analysis of a style or the "purpose" of a painting, I sought to give an impression of the lives of the painters themselves, their struggles, their training and their travels. This will hopefully enhance the reader's appreciation of how Cape Ann impacted an artist's career. By making reference to the experiences of painters abroad, I related Cape Ann to the larger art world during each era and alluded to the many European influences that expatriate painters brought back with them.
In the early stages of developing the book, the primary basis for artists' selections was how the artist contributed to or effected Cape Ann art. Yet, as the book continued to evolve, it became evident that the outstanding characteristic of an artist's experience was how, instead, Cape Ann had effected the art of the painter. The unique quality of sunlight, the color and texture of the landscape, and even the mere quality and freshness of the air, have often brought about dramatic changes to painters' techniques and subject matter. In many cases these changes became a pivotal moment in the artists' development.
It is my hope that this book will increase awareness and appreciation of the rich history and prestige of Cape Ann -- a region steeped in creative labor, whose own modesty and classic provincial indifference to self-promotion may have sometimes deprived it of its full recognition within the wider circles of American art.
For almost two centuries, artists have been coming to Cape Ann, drawing a diverse roster of salon painters, Folk artists, Luminists, Tonalists, Impressionists, Ashcan painters, magazine and children's book illustrators, and Modernists alike. Somehow, each successive wave of artists found something on Cape Ann that they recognized as uniquely their own -- uniquely for them.
Cape Ann's legacy of artists is astonishing -- a veritable who's who of American art: Fitz Hugh Lane, William Morris Hunt, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, John H. Twachtman, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis and Marsden Hartley all visited and painted on Cape Ann. Yet as the list grew, Cape Ann never lost its popularity as a place for both amateur and professional painters. Rejecting exclusivity, it is this egalitarian quality, characteristic of a rustic, working-class tradition that has renewed Cape Ann again and again, never growing tired of its painters while its painters never grew tired of it.
Long before the arrival of painters, however, Cape Ann was known for its industries. Established in 1623, Gloucester eventually became a prosperous port city in overseas trade. Later, as a deep water harbor, it provided close access to the North Atlantic fishing waters, establishing Gloucester as a major center for fishing. Sail making was also an important industry on the Cape, and Essex became a major center for shipbuilding. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Rockport, originally known as Sandy Bay, became a prime location for quarrying stone, supplying granite for buildings, and paving blocks for streets in Boston and other cities along the east coast. These industries brought waves of immigrants looking for work. From Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Sicily, and Italy, men poured into Gloucester to work on the ships, establishing their own quarters in the city, bringing with them their traditions. In Rockport, Scandinavian men, especially Finns and Swedes, brought their families and labored in the rock quarries, establishing communities around Folly Cove and Pigeon Cove. Commerce from as far away as Dutch Surinam brought a variety of foreign goods to Gloucester, producing a bustling harbor city with a wondrous variety of languages, faces, and cultures.
It was the very image of Gloucester Harbor and the awesome spectacle of fleets of vessels with full open sails, that built Gloucester's reputation as indescribably picturesque. As. the number of visiting artists increased, local fishermen weren't always sure what to make of them, showing up with canvas and paints, getting excited over light qualities and the way the color of the boats reflected upon the water. A little uncertain of their intentions, perhaps a little reluctant to accept the contrasts of their two professions, a quote from a turn of the century fisherman captures the feeling:
However, without established, reputable art schools in any of the major cities, the development of art in the region, as in the rest of America, was a slow process. Some of the earliest professional painters in the Cape Ann area came because local merchants, wealthy from international trade, wished to have their portraits painted. American painter John Singleton Copley completed several portraits of Gloucester merchants in the late eighteenth century. However it was a local young man from Gloucester in the mid-nineteenth century named Fitz Hugh Lane who would first put Cape Ann on the map.
With the increased popularity of Lane's works throughout New England in the 1850's, a stream of artists began to migrate to the region. Over 150 years later, that stream has never stopped and has at times overflowed. It was the man-made industries of Gloucester Harbor that first attracted artists, however, it was not long before the natural landscape also became an attraction. The inlets of Annisquam, the intimate streets of Lanesville, and the strange allure of Dogtown would draw painters back again and again. The birth of industrial power saw the disappearance of the majestic sailing fleets in Gloucester, but their replacement with engine-powered fishing boats of diverse colors had changed one muse for another.
In the late nineteenth century, many American art students felt they had to go to Europe for a proper art education. This sometimes created what could be called the 'John Singer Sargent syndrome'; for an American in Europe, bombarded by beautiful architecture, esteemed salons and centuries of rich art history, the temptation to stay in what was accepted as the center of the art world, was quite strong. Of the 65 artists featured in this book, roughly 42 studied and lived in Europe. Yet they all decided to return home, trading experiences in St. Ives, Brittany or Giverny for what they found in Cape Ann.
Some painters came seeking out the commotion of Gloucester Harbor, others for the serenity of the land. Cape Ann has been a surprising draw for painters from New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, the Midwest, and from the salons of Europe. While art on Cape Ann originally depicted local industries, and then its natural beauty, tourism eventually became another catalyst for growth in the area in the late nineteenth century. Sales of Cape Ann subject matter in other regions of America spread the popularity to a wider audience. Tourists visiting Cape Ann in the summer months bought paintings from artists in the local galleries; this provided a living for artists which, in turn, attracted more artists. This cycle continued throughout the twentieth century and in many ways guaranteed the continuation of the colony.
Artists had been coming to the Cape for more than sixty years before the first local art associations were founded. The Gallery-on-the-Moors, established in 1916, was a short lived exhibition space in Gloucester founded by William and Emmeline Atwood. The Gallery-on-the-Moors was the first public exhibition space of its kind to give local painters a chance to show their work. Later in 1921, the Rockport Art Association was formed, and the following year, the Gloucester Art Association was established, later changing its name to the North Shore Arts Association. Both remain active today.
Perhaps the best symbol of the legacy created by the migration of artists can be found in the form of a small red lobstermen's shack located at the end of a wharf on Bearskin Neck in Rockport. Built around the time of the Civil War, its prominent position at the end of the pier made it a natural backdrop for artists painting harbor pictures. Finally in the early 1930's, while critiquing a group of students' pictures, several of which featured the little red shack, Lester Hornby, using a term often employed by French students to describe frequently painted sites, exclaimed, "What -- Motif No.1 again!" His fateful words stuck and since then the little red shack has been referred to as "Motif No. 1." It is thought to be the most frequently painted building in the United States.
Cape Ann's continued appeal for artists is confirmed by the sheer quantity of thousands of painters who have painted along the shores. The area has also never succumbed to the influence of a single dominant painter-teacher. Unlike John Carlson in Woodstock or Charles Hawthorne among Provincetown painters, no single Cape Ann artist, through the popularity of his pictures or the influence of his teaching, has ever been so dominant as to define a single "look" for Cape Ann. This has ensured a variety of work among generations of painters and freed Cape Ann from the limits such a definition would instill.
Many of the changes and trends in American art can be traced through a survey of work produced on Cape Ann over the decades. While the area has been known for representational art arid a conservative attitude towards progressive styles, the twentieth century in fact saw the arrival of artists to Cape Ann of almost every conceivable style and approach. Beautiful harbors and sailing vessels attracted realist. painters in a time when the academic tradition was king. Cape Ann soon became a haven for many of the painters experimenting with Impressionism. With its emphasis on light and color, the play of sunlight on water alone was enough to draw painters back year after year. Because of its geography, the light on Cape Ann offered a great array of contrasts. Clear sunlight, dense fog, horrific storms, brilliant sunsets and hazy dawns with milky light seem to follow each other in rapid succession. Later, the Ashcan painters were drawn to the activity and the increasingly industrialized elements of the harbors.
Cape Ann's popularity with artists did not wain or die with the popularity of one particular style, or evolution of art. If it had, the appeal of Cape Ann would have revealed its own limitations. Instead, Cape Ann continues to redefine itself as painters redefine their art.
Mr. Davies' Book contains biographies for the 65 artists listed below. Please see links to five selected biographies:
1. Painters of Cape Ann, Spanierman Gallery, 1996.
2. Wilmerding, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, p. 19.
3. Baur, Antiques The Magazine, Nov. 1980: p. 1025.
4. Sharf, Hunt and the Summer Art Colony at Magnolia, p.10
5. Cooley, Rockport Sketchbook. p. 19.
7. Butler, The Artist as Historian, 1983.
9. Gerdts, Childe Hassam, p. 107-108.
10. Gerdts, Lasting Impressions, p. 51.
11. Royal Cortissoz, The Virile Art of The Late Eric Hudson.
12. Eric Hudson, 1864-1932, p.3.
13. Willard Leroy Metcalf, Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, p. xiii.
14. Edward Potthast, New York: Chapellier Galleries.
15. Falk, Who was Who in American Art, Vol. 1, p. 252.
16. The Glow of Sunlight, Vose Galleries, 1998.
17. Cooley, Rockport Sketch Book. p. 22.
18. Movalli, American Artist, p.75.
20. Paintings by Frederick Waugh, 1968.
22. Havens, Frederick 1. Waugh, p. 122.
23. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, p. 169.
24. John Sloan: The Gloucester Years, 1980.
26. Hayley Lever, Previti Gallery, 1985.
27. Wilkin, Stuart Davis in Gloucester, p. 40.
28. Theresa Bernstein, Joan Whalen Gallery, p. 8.
29. Charles Movalli, "A New View of Aldro T. Hibbard," American Artist (May 1979): p. 60.
30. Thomas Davies, "A.T. Hibbard, A Retrospective ," American Art Review (Oct 1996): p. 146.
31. "Painter of New England Winters," American Artist, June 1940): p. 8.
32. Davies, p. 149.
34. ibid, p.147.
35. Carr, American Art Review, p. 119.
36. Marsden Hartley, Soliloquy in Dogtown, 1985, p. 21.
37. ibid, p. 9.
38. ibid, p. 14.
39. ibid, p. 13.
40. Cooley, Rockport Sketch Book. p. 55.
41. Antiques and the Arts Weekly, July 15, 1988, p. 18.
42. Curtis, American Art Review, April 2000: 187.
43. Cooley, Rockport Sketch Book. p. 69.
44. Davies, Inspiration of Cape Ann, p. 27.
45. Stuckey, The Lithographs of Stow Wengenroth, p. 18
46. Westin Boer, "A Tribute to Cape Ann Art, AI Czerepak" Gloucester Daily Times, (Aug. 28, 1986)
50. Murphy, The Santa Fean Magazine, Sept., 1990, p. 61.
51. ibid., p. 62.
RL editor's note: An expansive bibliography section provides details for the end notes.
About the author:
Born in Hong Kong and raised in New England, Kristian Davies grew up spending summers on Cape Ann exposed to the art and history of the region. He received his degree from Northwestern University and has also studied at the Paris III Sorbonne and New York University. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Art history has always been of great interest to him.
Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition, an exhibition featuring some of the paintings in the 2001 book, but also several not included therein, was held in 2003 at the Lyme Art Association. Kristian Davies later wrote an article for the exhibition which was published in American Art Review, Volume XV, Number 1 January-February 2003. Art & Antiques published an essay by Kristian Davies titled "Raised on Art" in its Summer 2002 issue and another titled "Family Tradition" in the June 2003 issue.
A new book by Mr. Davies titled The Orientalists: Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia and India will be published in January of 2005.
RL editor's note: Following is a 2004 photo of the "small red lobstermen's shack located at the end of a wharf on Bearskin Neck in Rockport" referred to in the above text by Kristian Davies.
(above: Rockport Fishermen's Shack, photo, © 2004 John Hazeltine)
Following is a 2013 photograph from TFAO's photo library of the same building.
(above: Bradley Wharf's Motif Number 1, Rockport, MA, 2013. Photo by John Hazeltine)
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