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The Arts on Cape Ann

 William Meyerowitz (1887-1981). Gloucester Humoresque, 1923. Oil on canvas. Gift of James F. O'Gorman and Jean Baer O'Gorman, 1985. [acc. #2510.04]
William Meyerowitz (1887–1981). Gloucester Humoresque (1923). Oil on canvas. Gift of James F. O’Gorman and Jean Baer O’Gorman, 1985 [2510.04].

The Cape Ann Museum is at the heart of a long arts tradition, exhibiting work by Cape Ann artists from all periods, including the present. Through its permanent collections, special exhibitions, and programs, the Museum explores the connection between artists and place, examining how Cape Ann affects the artists it attracts and how those influences carry over in a broader sense to the history of art in America.

18th and 19th Century American Art and Artists

Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886). Field Beach, Stage Fort Park, c. 1850. Oil on canvas mounted on board. Gift of Jean Stanley Dise, 1964. [acc. no. 2019.2]
Mary Blood Mellen (1819–1886). Field Beach, Stage Fort Park, c. 1850. Oil on canvas mounted on board. Gift of Jean Stanley Dise, 1964 [2019.2].

Some of the Museum's earliest paintings are 18th century portraits by Benjamin Blyth (1746–1787) and Gilbert Stuart (1750–1826). Other portrait artists followed: Susanna Paine (1792–1862), Alfred J. Wiggin (1823–1883), Cecilia Beaux (1855–1942) and Charles Hopkinson (1869–1962). All are represented in the Museum's collections.

But in the end, it is maritime and landscape art, rather than portraiture, that predominate on Cape Ann. The best known of Cape Ann's 19th century American artists is maritime luminist Fitz Henry Lane (1804–1865). The Museum's collection of his work is the largest in the world.

20th Century American Art and Artists

Stuart Davis (1894-1964). Sketchbook 3-3, drawing for "Black Roofs" and "Dock, Still Life," c. 1930. Ink on paper. Gift of Earl Davis, 2001. [acc. no. 2001.14.3]
Stuart Davis (1894–1964). Sketchbook 3-3, drawing for Black Roofs and Dock, Still Life, c. 1930. Ink on paper. Gift of Earl Davis, 2001 [2001.14.3].

By the turn of the century, more artists were visiting Cape Ann. Many of the 20th century American artists who arrived, including Frank Duveneck (1848–1919) and John Sloan (1871–1951) came as summer visitors. After his first visit to Cape Ann in 1915, American artist Stuart Davis (1894–1964) wrote:

I went to Gloucester, Massachusetts on the enthusiastic recommendation of John Sloan. That was the place I was looking for. It had the brilliant light of Provincetown, but with the important additions of topographical severity and the architectural beauties of the Gloucester schooner.

21st Century American Art and Artists

Ralph Coburn (b. 1923). Morning, 2000. Acrylic on canvas. Gift of the artist, 2002. [acc. no. 2002.58]
Ralph Coburn (b. 1923). Morning, 2000. Acrylic on canvas. Gift of the artist, 2002 [2002.58].

American artists have been drawn to Cape Ann by the quality of its light and air, the rugged power of its granite outcroppings and quarries, the activity of its working waterfront and the drama of its coastline where promontories give way to sheltered coves.... Artists still come in large numbers seeking inspiration.

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