Painting Summer in New England

April 22 - September 4, 2006



Essay labels for the exhibition:

Alphabetical by artist surname


Leon Kroll, Summer Days, Camden, Maine: the Bellows Family, 1916

After studying with American Impressionist John Henry Twachtman in New York, Kroll was a pupil of Jean-Paul Laurens in Paris. His work was included in the 1913 Armory Show, an indication of his modernist direction. In 1916 Kroll and New York artist George Bellows rented neighboring houses in Camden, where Kroll made this tribute to sunny hours spent in the backyard. Bellows, his wife, and elder daughter can be seen near the house; in the foreground a family servant holds their second daughter.


Leon Kroll, Cape Ann, 1934-35

Kroll and his wife purchased a summer home in Folly Cove, on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in 1932. Hearty nudes, sunbathers, and lounging figures abound in his work. The granite quarries on Cape Ann often inspired him to invent intriguing compositional effects. Kroll received the title "Dean of U.S. Nude-Painters" in a profile published in Life in 1948.


Walt Kuhn, Apples from Dorset, Vermont, 1937

Kuhn was a modernist who helped organize New York's famous Armory Show in 1913. While he is best known for his quiet, brooding portrayals of clowns and other show business characters, Kuhn loved to paint still lifes. He summered near Dorset, in southern Vermont, and this work celebrates a profusion of local apples.


Yasuo Kuniyoshi, The Swimmer, c. 1924

Kuniyoshi emigrated to the U.S. in 1906, aged 16. After a few years in Los Angeles he settled in New York, where his art teachers included Robert Henri. Around 1918 he became one of the protégés of Hamilton Easter Field, a wealthy New York critic and publisher who collected American folk art, Japanese woodblock prints, and modern art (including Picasso). Kuniyoshi's The Swimmer blends aspects of Cubism, ancient Egyptian design, and folkloric New England to stunning effect; its playful narrative recalls the Surrealists' delight in dreams and fantasy.


Fitz Henry Lane, Castine, Maine, 1856

Lane, a native of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was the son of a sailmaker. He was apprenticed to a lithographer in Boston in the early 1830s, but as a painter he was essentially self-taught. His topographical portrait of Castine details the inhabitants, buildings, and neatly fenced pastures, but all are dwarfed by an immense, delicately colored sky. In the late 1940s, when Lane was "rediscovered," the curator John I. H. Baur wrote: "It is difficult to define the almost magical quality which radiates from these serenely polished coastal scenes with their unearthly clarity of light."


Jack Levine, Street Scene, No. 1, 1939

Levine, the son of Lithuanian Jewish parents, spent his formative years in two Boston neighborhoods: the South End and Roxbury. He was the student of Denman Ross, a wealthy collector, artist, and member of Harvard University's Department of Art. By the late 1930s American art critics had labeled him a Social Realist, along with William Gropper, Jacob Lawrence, Ben Shahn, and many others. In this painting Levine shows red-faced men hanging out at Mo's Deli in Roxbury. One has removed his jacket, and the summer atmosphere seems to intensify the glowing gold lettering on the window.


Molly Luce, Tercentenary, 1937

This painting depicts an array of revelers (some in costume) celebrating Rhode Island's tercentenary. Luce contrasts New England's historical legacy with modern commercialism, including a merry-go-round. In 1926 she married Alan Burroughs, an art historian at Harvard University. The couple began to summer in Little Compton, Rhode Island, in 1932.


George Luks, Noontime, St. Botolph Street, Boston, c. 1923

The artist's interest in depicting street life and working people blossomed during his years as an illustrator for newspapers in Philadelphia in the 1890s. By the turn of the century Luks was active in Robert Henri's circle of realist painters in New York. In this high-keyed painting he directs attention to a hardworking man on a sunny Boston street. There is a subtle conflict between the lone, slightly stooped figure and the anonymous building's façade. Shadows cast by the decorous awnings attest to the strength of the sun.


Loren MacIver, Sand Dunes, 1933

MacIver, a New Yorker, spent summers on Cape Cod from 1931 to 1940. She and her poet husband, Lloyd Frankenberg, enjoyed a frugal, bohemian life in a beach shack. In Sand Dunes she expressed her love of fleeting, atmospheric moments. The pictographic shrubs and the thin, luminous sky exemplify her commitment to refined and austere painterly effects.


John Marin, My Hell Raising Sea, 1941

This picture of the sea outside the artist's home in Addison, Maine, is an outstanding painterly performance in a career devoted to capturing energetic movements and spatial tensions. The spirited, offbeat title underscores Marin's abiding devotion to the crashing and pounding of the Atlantic Ocean. He once observed, "The true artist must perforce go from time to time to the elemental big forms -- Sky, Sea, Mountain, Plain -- to recharge the battery. For these big forms have everything."


John Marin, Sea and Gulls, 1942 NO TEXT


John Marin, Movement: Grey and Blue, 1952

Marin's phrase "the myriad contrasts of movement" says much about his art. Impassioned by the energies of the world, he sought to give them a music-like equilibrium within his pictorial spaces: "There must be a balance, a controlling of the warring, pushing, pulling forces." The artist was 82 when he painted this pithy, intuitive vision of the relation between rocky Maine and the Atlantic Ocean. He decorated the frame to extend the lines and rhythms of his composition.


Willard Leroy Metcalf, Ebbing Tide (Version 2), 1907

Boston-born Metcalf studied painting in France from 1883 to 1888. After settling in New York in 1890 he pursued a career as an Impressionist who specialized in landscapes. This example depicts the Maine coast near Frank Benson's summer home on North Haven Island. The two artists met as students in Paris, and Metcalf gave this picture to his friend after staying with the Benson family.


William Meyerowitz, Gloucester Humoresque, 1923

Born in Russia, Meyerowitz settled in New York in 1908 and began to summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1920. This panorama is dominated by the rivalry between the town's main arts organizations. In the upper right, jurors of The North Shore Arts Association are selecting works for an exhibition. The newly founded Gloucester Society of Artists occupies the corresponding corner; its slogan was "No Jury -- No Prizes." Meyerowitz placed himself prominently in the foreground. His wife, artist Theresa Bernstein, is seated in the lower left, surrounded by members of her art class.


Ross Moffett, Historical Museum, 1960

Moffett first visited Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1913 to attend the summer school of artist Charles W. Hawthorne. In 1920 he and his wife, artist Dorothy Lake Gregory, made their home there. He was in his seventies when he painted this sumptuous work whose sophisticated patterned composition reflects a strong modernist heritage. The whimsical Victorian building at the center of the picture still stands in Provincetown.


George Nick, G-Spa II, 2003

Nick paints landscapes and still lifes but is best known for architectural streetscapes and images of machines, from cars and trains to industrial sites. In this energetic painting he tackles the sculptural complexity of two shop fronts on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay. He worked on the canvas for several weeks in mid summer, setting up his easel on the sidewalk soon after dawn. A resident of Concord, Massachusetts, Nick studied with Edwin Dickinson in the 1950s and taught at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, from 1969 to 1994.


Maxfield Parrish, Hunt Farm (Daybreak), 1948

Parrish was a gifted artist who used glazes to enhance the spectral glow of his minutely detailed images. Here he casts rural New England as a pristine, fairy-tale place where each dawn brings a magical radiance to hilltop farms shaded by mighty trees. Parrish lived in Cornish, New Hampshire, in The Oaks, a large, fanciful house of his own design. Among the artist's numerous commissions for advertisements were posters that promoted New Hampshire tourism in the 1930s.


Margaret Patterson, Aunt Polly's Back Door, c. 1915

This Bostonian painter and printmaker combined Japanese design principles with vibrantly modernist color. While the subject of this painting sticks with New England tradition -- a handsome shade tree planted beside a cottage door -- Patterson's thick paint and her strong lavender shadows proclaim experimentalism. The daughter of a Maine sea captain, Patterson supported herself by teaching art in schools and colleges, and occasionally offered art classes on Monhegan Island. Aunt Polly's Back Door is in its original frame, made by the artist-run Boston firm Carrig-Rohane.


Jane Peterson, Old Street in Gloucester, c. 1912

Peterson was based in New York but often summered in Gloucester, Massachusetts, or on Martha's Vineyard. She developed her interest in the use of dramatic sunlight and energetic brushwork while studying with artist Joaquim Sorolla in Madrid in 1909. Here Peterson relies on a snapshot-like composition to make a contrast between the relatively new telephone poles and cables and classic New England village streetscape. She worked on a brilliantly sunny day, when the shadows were bold and the sunlight bounced off the pale buildings and dusty road.


Fairfield Porter, Anne, 1965

A New Yorker, Porter always summered on Great Spruce Head Island, Maine. He married Anne Channing, a poet, in 1932, and they raised five children. This portrait of his wife wearing a light summer outfit presents a gentle person with a saint-like aura. Although several of Anne's forebears were Unitarian ministers, contact with the Catholic Worker movement inspired her to convert to Catholicism in 1954. Fairfield Porter struggled with bisexuality, and his manner could be abrupt, detached, or awkward. It is evident from this painting that Anne was an anchor for his complex personality.


Fairfield Porter, Beach Flowers No. 2, 1972 NO TEXT


Fairfield Porter, Boathouses and Lobster Pots, 1968-72

Art historian William C. Agee wrote in 1993: "Porter was willing to allow and to admit to his mistakes, and he was content to retain and exhibit the record of his struggle with the medium. [He] is distinctly American because of his insistence on the concrete and the specific rather than on the European heritage of the ideal and the general. [And] he stands with an American tradition of artists who are deeply committed to political and social views, but who let them speak metaphorically through the painterly, abstract qualities of their art."

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