Monday, February 18, 2019

Young Jackie

Young Jaqueline Bouvier by Irwin D. Hoffman (1901-1989)
oil on canvas
Me and Jackie
Terry Wallace, Wallace Gallery
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
1947 Miss Porter's school yearbook 
On a recent visit to Wallace Gallery in East Hampton, I viewed the lovely painting by Irwin Hoffman of Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy as a young girl. Her father, "Black Jack" Bouvier had commissioned the work after young Jackie took a bad fall from a horse while riding in East Hampton. Jackie was unconscious for several days. Coincidentally, Jackie ended up giving the painting to her riding instructor, Theresa Schey. The portrait reminded me of a school yearbook photo, so I went google stalking Jackie photos. There are so many! It is incredible that Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was photographed by professional photographers her entire life. I didn't discover a photo that matched the painting, but did ponder the timing of her accident (summer of 1950) and the style of the portrait (young school photo) -- In 1950, Jackie would have been in college. Did her father ask the artist to paint from a photo depicting her as a youngster and not the woman that she had become? If so, she probably viewed the painting as a folly of a doting parent and not something she was particularly fond of herself. It makes perfect sense that this little painting beloved by a father afraid to lose his little girl be passed down to the horsewoman who participated in her upbringing. Jackie was only a year old when her mother first put her on a horse. Wallace Gallery is fortunate to possess this historic artwork until it is ready to be cherished in its next home.

Based on further information, it appears the creation of the painting could be earlier than the 1950 date that I had at my initial writing. A Dan's Papers article lists it as 1948 and an East Hampton Star article attributes the work to High School. 


Coincidentally, Jackie's sister, Lee Radziwill recently passed away. 
Jackie and Lee, 1955
image Horst P Horst/Getty Images via

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Lighthouse Obsession

The writing part of my January challenge leads to reading and research. A story set in Sag Harbor of the late 1860s. What were people's lives like? My pen scratches along and suddenly I pause with the thought, "Boats are sailing to.. where? A day in a lighthouse would consist of... what activities?" Historical fiction by definition means history and fiction. The more I write, the more I need to know in order to set context. I am excited though, a story is beginning to form.
The Three Sisters of Nauset by Charles Wysocki
Since falling in love with the Cedar Island Light, I've subscribed to the Keeper's Log through the U.S. Lighthouse Society. My favorite bits are the descriptions of the lighthouse keeper's life. One Keeper's Log cover, Charles Wysocki's painting of the Nauset lighthouses, features two women painting en plein air. I have yet to carry paints and easel out to Cedar Point, but have been working on watercolors from photos that I've taken there. All of my paintings imagine the lantern restored to its tower. I began painting watercolors of the lighthouse as part of the January challenge, but will continue until I get it "right". How many paintings will it take? I recently read a story about Monet renting a hotel room with a view over the Waterloo Bridge so that he could paint it over and over in different light. He painted over 40 versions. Monet is know for painting the same subject again and again. Haystacks anyone? I think I will follow his lead.
Cedar Island Light by Gail Gallagher
Watercolor on Paper, 9" x 12"
Cedar Island Light (Three Sails) by Gail Gallagher
Watercolor on Paper, 9" x 12"
Cedar Island Light (Sloop) by Gail Gallagher
Watercolor on Paper, 9" x 12"
I registered to enter a watercolor of Cedar Island Light in this year's Guild Hall Members Show on March 9th. Which rendering will it be? I continue to paint in hopes of creating the perfect one. In the mean time, I've discovered a few historic renderings of the lighthouse to inspire my work. The early pencil sketch below by Reynolds Beal depicts the original wooden lighthouse. The granite lighthouse that exists today was begun in 1868. William Wallace Tooker, the grandson of Sag Harbor artist and lighthouse keeper, Hubbard Latham Fordham did a sketch from 1869 that shows both lighthouse buildings. I can imagine Tooker sketching aboard a sloop on the sail over to visit his grandfather at the lighthouse.
Cedar Island Light, July 13, 1887 by Reynolds Beal
Pencil on paper, 10" x 14"
Cedar Lighthouse 
1869 drawing by William Wallace Tooker
 View of the Cedar Island Light by Cappy Amundsen
Oil on canvas, 24" x 36"
Sag Harbor glittered on the cultural horizon like a gem. In 1770 when the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor was built, Northwest began its decline and Sag Harbor continued its ascendancy as a major whaling port up until the Civl War. It had always been more cosmopolitan than any of the other East End towns and ever since Reverend Beecher (Old Presbyterian Church, East Hampton) had preached against the Atheists' Club there in the early 1800's, it had been regarded with some dismay. "Rum selling was widespread. In lower Main Street, lined to the dock with stores, taverns and warehouses, there was the irresponsible life of a seaport town. While on upper Main Street, in fashionable homes, there was brilliant society, and arrogant youth skimmed through the streets with horse and cutter," according to Nancy Boyd Willey in The Story of Sag Harbor. In 1845 its population was 4000 of which one thousand was literally a floating population. Mrs Rattray says that, "Sag Harbor was the shopping center of the East End villages." - from Miss Amelia's Amagansett by Madeline Lee
Afternoon in Sag Harbor, 1883 by Walton H. Roberts
Watercolor, 12" x 18"

The photos of historic paintings above are from Terry Wallace's Cappy Amundsen book.