Painting Summer in New England

April 22 - September 4, 2006



Essay labels for the exhibition:

Alphabetical by artist surname


Andrew Wyeth, Northern Point, 1950

Andrew Wyeth, the youngest child of painter and illustrator N. C. Wyeth, grew up spending winters in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and summers near Port Clyde, Maine. In this classic example of his flinty realism he saluted the mythic austerity and stoicism of northern New England. His fine brushes conveyed the patina of time and the strong lines of a lobsterman's house on Teel Island. Ostensibly the depiction of a lightning rod, the work may harbor autobiographical sentiments: the image echoes Wyeth's lonely yet exalted stance against abstract art in the mid 20th century.


Jamie Wyeth, The Snow Goose, 2003

Like his father, Andrew, and his grandfather, N. C., Jamie Wyeth divides his time between homes in Pennsylvania and Maine. This lighthouse near Tenants Harbor is a recurring motif in his Maine pictures, yet he varies its role, character, and lighting. It might be the glowing main feature of an airy vista, or a looming backdrop in a foreground filled with summer flowers. In this painting it functions in a fairy-tale fashion, embellishing a charming narrative fragment involving a young dreamer and a goose.


N. C. Wyeth, The Harbor at Herring Gut, 1925

This colorful work offers a careening, lofty vista of Port Clyde, Maine, a village founded by people who made a living from the sea. While decidedly sunny, the picture's narrative details transcend scenic quaintness and convey Wyeth's deep admiration for his local community and his eager interest in the harbor's comings and goings. Wyeth and his family summered in Port Clyde, and they named their house "Eight Bells" after a painting by Winslow Homer.


Karl Zerbe, Gloucester Alley, 1943

Zerbe settled in Boston in 1934, a Jewish exile from Nazi Germany. He had trained as a painter in Munich and was familiar with the work of Oskar Kokoschka and the modern German Expressionists. By 1937 he had become a leading instructor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gloucester Alley is a tribute to one of the oldest and largest fishing towns in Massachusetts. Zerbe's juxtaposition of a thoughtful elderly woman and a rather sad, empty street may allude to World War II, when military recruitment drastically diminished the local male population.


Marguerite Zorach, Summer Flowers, c. 1930 NO TEXT


Marguerite Zorach, Shells and Things, 1936

Born Marguerite Thompson in Santa Rosa, California, this painter and textile artist played an important early role in American modernism. While studying and working in Paris (1908­1912), she met Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso and painted Fauve-inspired canvases. In 1912 she married William Zorach, an American painter she met in Paris. She made this still life during a summer stay in Georgetown, Maine. The objects have an old-fashioned New England air and allude to the coastal setting; Zorach's technique, however, reflects her interest in Cubist composition.


Marguerite Zorach, Diana of the Sea, c. 1930

Zorach shows Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt, in a boat amidst a catch of crustaceans. Although nude, she is modestly cloaked by a textile strikingly patterned with moons and stars. By modeling the figure in neoclassical style, Zorach created an image closer to an archetype than an earthly being-a nude more acceptable to New England's lingering Puritan and Victorian standards.


William Zorach, Plowing the Fields, 1917

The young artist couple William and Marguerite Zorach called themselves "Post-Impressionistic painters." During World War I they spent three summers on a farm near Plainfield, New Hampshire. Here William interprets the setting as an avant-garde Arcadia, where sturdy figures work the fields. In a statement published in 1916 Zorach wrote: "It is the inner spirit of things that I seek to express. I am organizing a new world in which each form and color exists and lives only in so far as it has meaning in relation to every other form and color in that space."


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