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A Little Community of Artists

Beginning in the 1880s, an art colony emerged in and around the villages of Lanesville, Folly Cove and Pigeon Cove on the north side of Cape Ann. Not surprisingly, scenes from the granite quarrying business and themes related to it appeared in art work created by artists who found their way to these neighborhoods.

Ellen Day Hale (1855–1940), Portrait of Vera Cheves, c.1925. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Vera L. Cheves, 1996 [1996.57.1].  Gabrielle de Veaux Clements (1858–1948), The Derrick (Rockport Quarry), 1884. Etching on paper. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Harold and Betty Bell, 1999 [1999.37].  Walker Hancock (1901–1998), Head of a Finnish Boy, c.1939. Painted plaster. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Gift of the artist, 1989 [2640.1].

(left) Ellen Day Hale (1855–1940), Portrait of Vera Cheves, c.1925. Oil on canvas. Gift of Vera L. Cheves, 1996 [1996.57.1]; (center) Gabrielle de Veaux Clements (1858–1948), The Derrick (Rockport Quarry), 1884. Etching on paper. Gift of Harold and Betty Bell, 1999 [1999.37]; (right) Walker Hancock (1901–1998), Head of a Finnish Boy, c.1939. Painted plaster. Gift of the artist, 1989 [2640.1]. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. 

 

Two of the earliest artists to work in the area were Ellen Day Hale (1855–1940) and Gabrielle deVeaux Clements (1858–1948). Hale was a student of Boston artist William Morris Hunt and Helen Knowlton and came to Cape Ann with one of their art classes in the 1870s; Clements arrived shortly thereafter with a group led by Philadelphia etcher Stephen Parrish. By the early 1880s, both women had visited Lanesville and Folly Cove; soon after, deciding that the hardscrabble old world atmosphere of the neighborhoods was to their liking, both women established permanent summer residences there. In his memoir, A Sculptor’s Fortunes, Walker Hancock (who lived in Lanesville from the early 1930s through the end of his life in 1998) talks about Hale and Clements and their roles in establishing Folly Cove as a gathering spot for artists:

Folly Cove … had begun to attract artists at least two generations before I arrived. The first to settle there were Ellen Day Hale and Gabrielle deV. Clements…. Their houses were close to each other, overlooking the cove. Miss Clements’ was a large frame structure not far back from the road. Miss Hale’s, a stone building, was on higher ground. Miss Clement had been a mural painter, but because of her age she at that juncture limited her work to etching. She was kind and patient enough to give me lessons in that art. Miss Hale continued with her portrait painting. Both ladies were very much a part of the local community … They were responsible for [sculptor] Charles Grafly’s buying a house and building a large studio nearby, having recommended “the Folly” to him as a healthful place in which to live.

Other artists who made their way to Lanesville and Folly Cove during the early 20th century include stained glass designer Nicola D’Ascenzo, sculptor George Demetrios and children’s book author and illustrator Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios, and painters Leon Kroll, Alfred Levitt, Theresa Bernstein and Samuel Pullman.

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