The East Hampton Historical Society recently hosted a show of works from the Wallace Collection, at the Clinton Academy. If you love 19th and early 20th century art by East End painters, you are familiar with Terry Wallace and the Wallace Gallery. Wallace has an ardent following of collectors thanks to his obsessive knowledge of local history. His painterly eye and curiosity have taken him on adventures of discovery; renewing interest in artists often long forgotten. He is what you would call, a "buff". We are fortunate that Wallace has chosen to share his collection with the East Hampton Historical Society at this show and in the future. Many of the works in his collection will be the backbone of a new museum being created within the Percy Moran House, near the Gardiner windmill. I am so looking forward to having a venue dedicated to artists of this era.
Included here are just a few of the wonderful paintings that were exhibited. Many thanks to the show's curators for the commentary which I have included here in italics.
Heather Plain, East Hampton Long Island 1890
Henry Golden Dearth (frame by Stanford White)
Dearth was born in Bristol, RI and started out at the Waterbury Clock Co. But his first love was art and he took evening lessons with a local portrait painter who encouraged him to go to Paris. He studied at the L'Ecole de Beaux Arts and returned to America in 1888. His debut was at the National Academy of Design. He kept a studio at Montreal-sur-Mer, where he worked several months each year. After 1912 he changed his style from moody landscapes to those composed of highly colored broken brush strokes laden with impasto. "Heather Plain" is a masterpiece from his first period. It is delicate, defined and imaginatively painted in a wet-on-wet technique with flecks of burning color against a shadowy dunescape.
Montauk Point, circa 1860-1870
This charming folk-art painting is so freshly colored that it belies the untrained hand that composes it. Though this painting exhibits decidedly primitive drawing skills, the painter of this small panel created patterns to signify the cliffs and waves. This early view shows the lighthouse before it got its present daymark, the name for the central stripe that was added to the shaft in 1899. Daymarks were invented to give each lighthouse a unique look in daylight, since the beam gave a unique set of flashes at night. The artist captured this sunny day from memory or perhaps from a print or sketch in a tablet. We may never know if the artist had ever seen Montauk Lighthouse.
Boats Off Montauk, 1935
Walter Granville-Smith (1870-1938)
Granville-Smith was born in South Granville, NY and grew up in Newark, NJ. He trained for a career as a painter and illustrator with J. Carroll Beckwith and Willard Metcalfe of New York's Art Student's League. He went to Paris in 1897 and took classes at the Academie Julian and spend time sketching in Holland, Belgium and Normandy. Granville-Smith arrived back in New York City and started work with Harper's Magazine as well as Century Magazine, Scribner's and Collier's. He was an excellent horseman and spent summers in Newport, RI supplying illustrations for society pages. IN the 1930s he enjoyed painting the seascapes of Montauk, especially fishing boats in front of the iconic lighthouse.
Spring Reflections, East Hampton, LI circa 1885
John Leon Moran (1864-1941)
Moran was born in Philadelphia, the son of Edward Moran of marine painting fame. His father was his first teacher and later he attended classes at both the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design. He went to London and Paris for further studies and returned to New York in 1879. By 1883 he had established a studio and was renowned for his colonial revival figurative narratives and romanticized genre scenes. He and his brother, Edward Percy Moran, were highly successful commercial artists during the golden age of illustration. This carefully detailed subject of a young rural girl and her family's goat was certainly influenced by salon paintings Moran had seen in Paris - it is one of his finest works.
The Main Beach at East Hampton, circa 1875-1880
This small panel painting bears an uncanny similarity to John Ferguson Weir's work depicting the sam scene. It may just be coincidence, since the beach would have had the same arrangement for the season, but could this be Weir's oil sketch? In the late 19th century Main Beach had personal portable bathing houses that were brought down Ocean Avenue from local backyards. There is still one in existence, at the Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Studio. The bath houses spent their summer at the beach ready for the private citizens who preferred the comfort of brining their cabanas with them. In front of these little changing rooms are shade pavilions made of log poles and override with wild grape vines.
I found a photo of Weir's painting (below) what do you think?
John Ferguson Weir (1841-1926), Beach at Easthampton (c 1875)
oil on canvas, 51.8 × 85.1 cm,
Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT. via
A Story of the Sea, Montauk, 1876
Alfred Wordsworth Thompson (1840-1896)
Thompson was born in Baltimore and trained as a lawyer until he turned to art. In 1861 he took his first job as an artist with Harper's Weekly doing illustrations of Civil War battles. By the end of that year he went to study in Paris and remained there until 1868. He became an Academician at the National Academy of Design in 1875 and spent a summer painting in East Hampton the next year. This ship may be the schooner "M. Vassar Jr." towed to Montauk in 1875. Though he continued to keep a studio in New York City, his career became international with painting expeditions into all parts of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Thompson died at his Queen Ann style summer estate "Stonewood" in Summit, NJ.
By the Seashore, At the Shinnecock Lighthouse, circa 1892
Addison Thomas Millar (1860-1913)
Millar was born at Warren, OH where he took lessons from a local artist John Bell. He moved to Cleveland in 1879 where he studied with De Scott Evnas, a painter of trompe l'oeil still lives. He headed to New York City in 1883 and started classes at The Art Student's League. In 1892 he attended William Merritt Chase's Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art where he likely painted this work. The bright colors, rich sunshine and wind-ruffled skirt are typical of Chase's style. Millar went to Paris to study at the Academie Julian in 1985. He was a member of the Ntional Academy of Design and the Salmagundie Club. He summered in Norwalk CT and was part of the Silvermine Guild of Arts.
The Dock at Devon, Amagansett, LI circa 1925
Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1832-1932)
Herzog was born in Breman, Germany and studied at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf. His teachers saw him as a prodigy and he achieved early success. Besides the German out his works were collected by Queen Victoria and Emperor Alexander of Russia. With his artwork selling so well, he had funds to travel to American and settled in Philadelphia. From there he continued to explore and visited California in 1873 and later Florida. He loved to hike and bicycle around Lake George and Long Island's east end. He was a prudent investor and his Pennsylvania Railroad sock made it possible for him to not have to rely on painting sales for comfort. Many of his handsome paintings remained with his family.
Plum Island: Across the Gut, Orient Point, LI 1865
Mauritz Frederik de Haas (1832-1895)
De Haas was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands and started painting at the age of 8. He was accepted at the Rotterdam Academy of Art at 15. He became enamored with the sea and spent a year painting in London and along the English Channel. De Haas became the official artist for the Dutch Navy in 1855. He came to America in 1856 when he was 24 years old and soon shared a workspace in the 10th Street Studio Building with his older brother William Frederik de Haas, who was also a marine artist. The first lighthouse on Plum Island was built in 1827, but was replaced in 1869 due to its crumbling stone walls. This stunning sunny seascape was completed 4 year before the present lighthouse was built.
Caught on Canvas
Eastern Long Island Landscapes
The exhibition was made possible
thanks to the support from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.