New Bedford Art Museum
Cameo of the Permanent Collection of the City of New Bedford
In the Introduction to the catalogue accompanying the inaugural exhibition of the New Bedford Art Museum, "Landscapes: From the Familiar to the Sublime," Co-curator of the exhibition Thomas W. Puryear, Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts wrote: "In 1857, Albert Bierstadt returned from a four year sojourn to Europe where he has studied painting under leading artists in Germany. With his friend and patron, John Hopkins, owner of a New Bedford music shop, he arranged to present the first art exhibition ever held in New Bedford."
From that first exhibition, art shows would be held from time to time in the city, whose civic government would purchase or receive by gift art works through the ensuing decades. The city's collection was placed in the care of the New Bedford Free Public Library. The source of the paintings for the museum's inaugural exhibition was this historic city-owned collection. Three paintings in the collection include canvases by Pauline M. Colyar, Lemuel D. Eldred and Charles Henry Gifford.
Pauline M. Colyar was born in 1873 in West Virginia. By the age of 15 she was teaching an art class in Cincinnati and was exhibited at the exposition held there in 1900. She lived in New Bedford between 1895 and 1927, when she and her husband moved to Los Angeles where she died on June 15, 1928. (left: Pauline Meyer Colyar, Landscape, (date and full title not known), oil on canvas, Collection of City of New Bedford, Gift of Mrs. Otis S. Cook, April 1, 1939.)
Lemuel D. Eldred was horn in Fairhaven, MA on March 15, 1850. He studied under William Bradford at the National Academy and in Paris under Lefevre and Boulanger at the prestigious Julian's. He shared a studio with Bradford in both Fairhaven and New York. After travels to Europe between 1880 and 1883, he set up a studio in Boston. There he enjoyed moderate success selling paintings of Venice and the North African Desert. In later life, he returned to Fairhaven and worked in Bradford's old Studio. He died in New Bedford on November 24, 1921. (left: Lemuel D. Eldred, Fishing Fleet off Percé, 1877, oil on canvas, Collection of City of New Bedford This is a view of the massive Roche Percé in Quebec; which stands off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.)
Charles Henry Gifford, the son of a ship's carpenter, was born in Fairhaven, MA on July 13, 1839. He worked as a shoemaker and also made reproductions of antique furniture. During the Civil War he served in the Third Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. He was captured by Confederate forces and was imprisoned at Libby Prison in Richmond. After release and re-enlistment in the Twenty-Third Unattached Company, he spent his time guarding Confederate prisoners at Camp Meigs near Boston. Gifford took up painting upon his return in 1866,. His studio was above L. B. Ellis' art store and he made a living selling his "little gems," as he called them, small format paintings of local scenes. He died in Fairhaven, January 20, 1904. (left: Charles Henry Gifford, Coastal Scene with Gundalow, 1876, oil on canvas, Collection of City of New Bedford)
Text concerning artists from the exhibition catalog.
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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