Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester

July 22, 2023 — Oct. 16, 2023

Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester will explore the time Davis spent working in Gloucester and the enduring influence the area had on his work throughout his career. The exhibition will include paintings by Davis, on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Phillips Collection, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and a private collection. Also included will be drawings by Davis done in the 1930s and photographs he took around Gloucester’s Inner Harbor. 

Stuart Davis first visited Gloucester during the summer of 1915 at the invitation of John Sloan. [Gloucester], he wrote, “was the place I had been looking for.  It had the brilliant light of Provincetown, but with the important addition of topographical severity and the architectural beauties of the Gloucester schooner.” While Sloan moved on to other venues after 1918, Davis continued to visit Gloucester. 

A half century before Stuart Davis discovered Gloucester, artist Fitz Henry Lane made much the same discovery. Lane had, of course, been born and raised in Gloucester and knew the “topographical severity” of the landscape well. But after working in Boston as a printmaker for several years and then returning to his birthplace during the late 1840s, he discovered the area anew with an enhanced appreciation for all its beauties. Lane worked in much the same way Davis would, leaving his canvases in his studio and exploring the landscape with just paper and pencil. As with Davis, the images and notations Lane captured in his drawings served as the basis for his finished paintings for years to come.  

Stuart Davis’ paintings and those done by Fitz Henry Lane are vastly different in composition, palette and style. Despite these differences, being able to view Davis’ and Lane’s works together in the same gallery is eye-opening and affirms the importance one particular place – Cape Ann – has played in the lives of countless artists over the generations.

Image credit: Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Autumn Landscape, 1940, Gouache on illustration board, Collection of Lawrence A. Rand and Tiina Smith. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. 

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