Painting Summer in New England

April 22 - September 4, 2006

 



 

Essay labels for the exhibition:

Alphabetical by artist surname

 

Milton Avery, Artist's Daughter by the Sea, 1943

March, the artist's only child, was 10 when Avery painted her playing on the beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A New York modernist, Avery explored muted tones and translucency, and relied on large areas of thinly applied color to represent his forms. His consciously naïve style gave his best works both lyrical and monumental qualities. He observed: "I always take something out of my pictures. I strip the design to essentials." Two younger abstract painters who admired Avery's techniques as a colorist were Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb.

 

George Bellows, Matinicus, 1916

Bellows, a New York realist, painted in Maine during five summers: 1911 and 1913-1917. An invitation to join his teacher Robert Henri on Monhegan Island prompted the first trip. Bellows made this view of the dock on the small rocky island of Matinicus when he and his wife visited in 1916. The place seems to have reminded him of Northern European villages as portrayed in medieval prints, for his composition conveys pleasure in the conglomeration of lopsided, creaky wooden buildings.

 

George Bellows, In a Rowboat, 1916

Bellows depicted an incident that occurred during a stay in Camden, Maine. He, his wife, Emma, their daughter Anne, and artist Leon Kroll experienced a sudden squall during a morning at sea. The two artists excitedly studied the visual drama unfolding around them until they realized their peril. The athletic Kroll took the oars. Bellows wrote a friend that he wanted to capture "the fear of it all," and he described his finished canvas as "an epic of terrific nature."

 

George Bellows, Boy and Calf ­ Coming Storm, 1919

Bellows made this painting during a summer stay in Middletown, Rhode Island. The strong colors and the differing effects of paint texture and brush stroke show the influence of Expressionism. Bellows worked on the installation of the Armory Show in New York in 1913, and that large, groundbreaking display of modern art gave him ample opportunity to study a variety of Expressionist styles.

 

Frank W. Benson, Summer, 1909

Benson was a lifelong resident of Salem, Massachusetts. The setting of this work is Wooster Farm, his 25-acre property on North Haven Island, in Maine's Penobscot Bay. Two of the models were his daughters and the others were family friends; from left to right, they are Elisabeth Benson, Anna Hathaway, Eleanor Benson, and Margaret Strong. The frame was made by the firm of Foster Brothers, Boston. The painting's first owner was the noted art collector Isaac C. Bates, President of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

 

Brett Bigbee, Joe (Self-Portrait), 1994-99

This disarming portrait of a father and son reflects on the seasons of life for the Maine-based artist. Four-month-old Joe is at the beginning of his life, and the artist-parent approaches the summer of his productive years. Bigbee followed the time-consuming technique of underpainting developed in the Renaissance and here alludes to the visual model of the Madonna and Child. A celestial blue wall sets off the figures, while the window presents a sunny view of the bay in South Portland.

 

Nell Blaine, Flowers in Four Glasses, 1980

A New York artist, Blaine summered regularly in Massachusetts. She bought a house in Gloucester in 1974 and resided there five months a year for the rest of her life. Blaine liked to refer to her garden as a "third studio." The ebullient color and expressive brushwork of this picture likely reflect her studies with Hans Hofmann in the early 1940s and enliven the treatment of a classic subject.

 

Peter Blume, Flower and Torso (Torso and Tiger Lily), 1927

Blume was 20 when he produced this canvas in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Favoring a descriptive, precisely outlined style, the young New Yorker boldly combined three traditional subjects of painting: still life, female nude, and landscape. By tightly cropping the composition he drew attention to the forms and textures of neat, geometric New England buildings, human flesh, and highly ornamental flowers. The contrast between the prim buildings and the brightly colored, voluptuous blooms is both dramatic and amusing, and it helps to cushion the magnificent frankness of this unconventional nude.

 

Fidelia Bridges, Pastures Near the Sea, 1885

Bridges's career as a painter and watercolorist began in the 1860s. Like her friend and mentor, painter William Trost Richards, she made detailed studies of the natural world. Both artists practiced the Pre-Raphaelite style promoted by the British critic John Ruskin. Bridges often summered on the Connecticut coast, and this picture probably depicts the Stratford area. She illustrated several books with bird themes, and her paintings were often reproduced on greeting cards and calendars published by Louis Prang.

 

Dennis Miller Bunker, The Brook at Medfield, 1889

Bunker created this work during a summer in Massachusetts with his friend Charles Martin Loeffler, a concert violinist. The animated vocabulary of brush strokes signaled his growing interest in Impressionism. In a letter to his Boston patron, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Bunker praised the local landscape for being "very quietly winning." He added, "[It is] all very much the reverse of striking or wonderful or marvelous [and yet] I wonder what more one needs in any country." Mrs. Gardner acquired at least five paintings by Bunker for her collection.

 

Bryson Burroughs, Venus and Adonis, 1933

When Burroughs studied painting in Paris in the early 1890s he developed an interest in the contemporary classicism of French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. This erudite picture is devoted to characters from Greek mythology, but the artist embellished it with a few Yankee notes: the landscape is a blend of the rocky terrain of Dogtown Common, near Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the Camden Hills in Maine. In addition to his artistic endeavors, Burroughs served as Curator of Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1909 to 1934.

 

James Edward Buttersworth, Yacht Race off Boston Light, c. 1880

Born in England, Buttersworth was active as a marine painter in the northeastern U.S. by the late 1840s and often painted yacht races. The owner of the cutter leading this race was Augustus Hemenway, a member of one of Boston's prominent merchant families.

 

Emil Carlsen, Summer Light, c. 1913

Born in Denmark, Carlsen moved to the U.S. in 1872. He specialized in still lifes and seascapes. After 1900 he often painted in Old Lyme, near the confluence of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. This picturesque village attracted many painters, including Childe Hassam. In Summer Light Carlsen captured the silvery atmosphere of a tranquil sea on a splendid day. The sky feels immense, and the artist deftly contrasted the fisherman in the foreground with the tall ship on the horizon.

 

Frank Carson, Circus in the Cornfield, 1933

Carson was a Boston painter who founded the Provincetown Art School in 1918. He taught there until 1933 and exhibited regularly at the Provincetown Art Association during those years. His paintings often convey a joyful spirit; in this image of a traveling circus Carson captured the sparkling Cape Cod light and many details of the extravaganza that occurred in a field abutting the town's hilly cemetery.

 

Allan Rohan Crite, Late Afternoon, 1934

As an African American artist, Crite's commitment to dispelling stereotypes paralleled that of the Harlem Renaissance, which had begun in New York City in the 1920s. When he was in his mid-twenties, Crite began to paint his Boston "Neighborhood Series," showing everyday life in the South End and Roxbury with affection and grace. "What I decided to do . . . was just simply record the life of black people as I saw them in the city where I lived." His abundantly detailed compositions presented uplifting images of African Americans during the Depression.

 

Allan Rohan Crite, Cambridge, Sunday Morning, 1934 NO TEXT

 

Allan Rohan Crite, Horseshoe Playing, 1939 NO TEXT

 

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