Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - NATALIE SHIPMAN

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

The author Natalie Shipman of Boston came to Devil’s Rock quarry off High Street every summer with her husband, Gurdon Saltonstall Worcester, psychologist. Sometimes Miss Shipman collaborated with her husband on a novel such as Perchance to Dream and Way of the Heart.

Miss Shipman’s books, dating back to the twenties, are full of New York and Boston society characters against a background of “new” cocktail parties, fabulous weddings, and tuxedoed escorts packing silver pocket flasks as they whirled along in convertibles. There is always an almost heady romance-just the kind people liked to imagine and dream about as they struggled with the realities of the Great Depression.

After she was graduated from Vassar, Natalie Shipman spent a year abroad, then two years in editorial jobs, and even tackled summer repertory theatre. Spring Is a Woman was her first novel, although she had already written short stories for many publications. She wrote Follow Your Heart, Once Upon a Summer. Call Back Yesterday, and at least five novels under her pen name, Phyllis Arthur.

For years, Natalie kept two orange cats she called Baby and Bully. Both sat with her as she wrote or trailed along as she carried her freshly baked lemon cake to a neighbor’s house for tea.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - JOHN I. COGGESHALL

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

Artist John I. Coggeshall, who painted from about 1877 until his death in 1927, divided his life between the homey woodlands of Lowell, Massachusetts on the Merrimack River, and the granite ledges and fishing village of Lane’s Cove. One of his most famous paintings is “Autumn Beechwoods.” “The Last Salt Ship,” a painting of a brig in Gloucester Harbor laden with salt from Spain, measured six feet by four-and-a-half feet. Another large painting is of the seventeenth century Rox Village bridge across the Merrimack River at Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Mr. Coggeshall was born in Fall River in 1857. His family lived in Maryland until the Civil War broke out, then they moved to a fruit and dairy farm on the shore of the Hudson River. In 1873 the young artist was in Boston learning engraving under William Preston Phelps, and later opened his own engraving business in Lowell until 1878.

By 1900 Mr. Coggeshall, who shared an enthusiasm for photography with sculptor Charles Grafly, built his studio “Redgates” on the shore at Cod Rocks. In 1905 he added a second building so he could have a summer art school. Students rumbled down in an express wagon from the depot in Gloucester or by streetcar, their trunks loaded on Harvey’s express wagon.

Led by Mr. Coggeshall, who carried both art equipment and his view camera, students perched on wharves at Lane’s Cove or at Squam, or sat in sunlit woods and fields behind Young’s dairy. In the evening they gathered in front of the stone fireplace at the studio to hear Mr. Coggeshall describe his adventures in Europe, particularly his side trip to Morocco where he painted “The Halt of the Caravan.”

Working at his easel took over most of the artist’s time, but somewhere he found a slot to begin the first Boy Scout troop on Cape Ann in 1914. They camped in tents on the shore and hiked up Mount Monadnock across the bay, turning out to reveille every morning.

When the artist presented paintings of Lowell, he called them the “Whittier Land Series.” He earned recognition as an artist who expressed lively color, whether in watercolor or oils. Sunsets over Ipswich Bay were his favorites. One critic wrote, “His studies in oil are pitched almost at the top of the scale in pigments …the result is pleasing to the eye.”

Mr. Coggeshall’s daughter, Edith Coggeshall Pulsifer, was an art instructor at Dean Academy and a gifted portrait and miniature painter. Sometimes she shared her father’s summer studio, now the home of Mrs. Stephen Hung. The two buildings at Cod Rocks have now become summer cottages visited by the artist’s granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - CHARLES GRAFLY, Sculptor

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

Charles Grafly was born in Philadelphia, December 3,1862, son of a shoemaker. His first job at $3.00 a week was cutting stone in the Struthers Stoneyard nearby. As he became more skillful, he advanced until in 1883 he was a journeyman at $3.00 a day. At that point, he decided to become a sculptor, and attended a drawing class at Spring Garden Institute.

Mr. Grafly’s art dated from the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 to World War I, and included thirty years of teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was greatly influenced by his painting and drawing instructor, Thomas Eakins, from whom he learned to understand the human figure and received a thorough instruction in anatomy.

The deeply respected Thomas Anshutz later became his teacher and continued the stress on depicting muscles, bones and sinews capable of movement. It was after the death of Mr. Anshutz in 1912 that Mr. Grafly attempted a portrait bust, using a death mask and photographs for reference. Suddenly, he threw them aside, destroyed his work and immediately, with great intensity, began again, this time from memory. He was satisfied with the result. Mr. Grafly studied in Paris under Henri-Michel Chapu and met the sculptor Cyrus Dallin there. A friend of Dallin’s, the Boston artist Joseph Rodefer Decamp, came to Lanesville in 1908 to sit for Mr. Grafly. The sculptor had married Frances Sekeles in 1895. Their daughter, Dorothy, who became a famous art critic in her own right, was born in 1896. The little family then began coming to Lanesville summers to “the farm.” In writing about her father, Dorothy Grafly Drummond said, “He fought for basic symbolism against general acceptance of the sentimental, the superficial and the illustrative. In his figures and in his heads, he dealt with fundamentals of character, structurally sound.” “Mr. Grafly was fine if you could stand the guff,” was the consensus of students, one of whom was Mr. Hancock. The teacher wasn’t one who led his students by the hand or with “pats on the back.” He usually came up to view a student’s work and said, “Very bad. Very bad.” Mr. Hancock, and no doubt Mr. Demetrios and Mr. Manship; were perfectly happy to absorb Mr. Grafly’s teaching, no matter what. Actually, Mr. Demetrios became his lifelong friend and shared his studio.

Mr. Grafly’s first public commission was a full figure of William Penn for the Penn Mutual Insurance Company in 1890; the figure was lost when the building was demolished. His best known work, and one he liked himself, is the imposing General George G. Meade Memorial on the Capitol Mall, Washington, D.C. It took ten years to complete. He had enlarged it in wax at Lanesville, then was so afraid of fire destroying it before it could be bronzed, he could scarcely sleep. Critics called the Meade “a realistic portrait powerfully done.’’

Lorado Taft, himself a sculptor and author of The History of American Sculpture, summed up the subject of Grafly ‘s portraits by saying “Grafly’s heads made all the heads modeled by his colleagues look like decaying vegetables.”

It was the custom of the day to do portraits of one’s fellow artists or students, and Mr. Grafly finished at least fourteen, including one of Hugh Breckenridge and his wife, Edward Redfield, Walter Elmer Schofield, Adam Emory Albright and Edwin Swift Clymer. Mr. Clymer had come to Folly Cove to spend the summer nearby, but is said to have had trouble making friends due to his bluff manner. Mr. Grafly did a first portrait of him with a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. Of course, Mr. Clymer promptly stowed it somewhere and sat for another more dignified portrait.

In 1905 the painter George Harding spent the summer in Lane’s Cove and sat for Mr. Grafly, who finished his portrait in six hours and thus won a bet. Another time, a delegation of women arrived at the Grafly home to escort Paul Bartlett, his sculptor friend, to a tea in his honor. They discovered both men on their knees on the grassy lawn pitching pennies. Unabashed, both rose, dusted their knees and greeted the women.

Early on Mr. Grafly had decided portraits were his forte. Among students and famous people who visited him at Woodbury Street were Walter Elmer Schofield, painter of impressionistic landscapes, about 1905; Blanche Stanley who came from East Gloucester in 1905 for her lessons; Dr. Joseph Price, who cared for Mrs. Grafly when he was needed; the entomologist Henry Lorenz Viereck, and William MacGregor Paxton, the painter. Mr. Paxton, in turn, painted a portrait of Dorothy Grafly in 1909. Clyde Bathurst was there that August and the sculptor, Albert Laessle, known for his animal studies, and who became a lifelong friend, sometimes modeling for Mr. Grafly’s compositions.

Three other students who have become known in their own right are Bruce Moore, Katherine Lane Weems of Cambridge (also an author) and Albin Polsk. The great artist Frank Duveneck posed for Mr. Grafly in 1915 at his studio here, and Childe HasSam, best known painter of his generation, came to the studio in 1918. He had also painted “Nymphs of the Sea” at Nicola D’Ascenzo’s new stone “castle” on the ledge at Folly Cove. Finally Mr. Humphrey Twombly, his elderly gardener, consented to pose for a portrait, which resulted in a valuable addition to Mr. Grafly’s collection of works.

When Mr. Grafly’s name is mentioned, many people think at once of his work, “The Pioneer Mother,” now in San Francisco. Done for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, it caused a lot of controversy in the art world. Many people objected to the figures because the two children standing in front of the mother figure were not clothed. Mr. Grafly refused to compromise his artistic ideals except for changing the mother’s moccasins to high-buttoned shoes as asked.

Children came to the studio from the Lane School with their teachers to view the monument in progress, then write a composition when they returned to class. No one mentioned the lack of clothing, and all seemed to get the message, Mr. Grafly reported.

Only a year before his death in 1929, the sculptor did a full length figure of James Buchanan for Buchanan Park, Lancaster, Pennsylvania “with a hat and gloves in one hand and a cane in the other.” as described by Pamela Simpson in a dissertation on Charles Grafly. Later, in only ten weeks, he completed a head of Admiral David G. Farragut in bronze.

Mr. Grafly was standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street in Philadelphia on April 19, 1929 when a car ran out of control, climbed the curbing and struck him. Two weeks later he died of his injuries. The sculptor had asked Mr. Hancock to take over his teaching duties at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and sculptor George Demetrios to arrange for storage of his work. Mr. D’Ascenzo also had been entrusted with last minute things to do to help. The bulk of his works, plaster studies, sketches and most of his papers, are now at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, sent there by his daughter as he wished.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - LILIAN WESTCOTT HALE

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

One of the first women artists to win the Altman Prize of the National Academy was Lilian Westcott Hale, thus nationally recognized for her portraits of children. Sharing her life as an artist was her husband, Philip L. Hale, also a distinguished painter and art critic for the Boston Herald. They had been married twenty nine years when he died unexpectedly, shattering her world for a while.

Theirs was the granite studio home planned by Ellen Day Hale, Philip’s aunt. Once a relative was showing the home to a visitor, explaining that Miss Hale had built the studio. “Well, she must have had a boy to help her,” the newcomer said. Actually, Alex Jungquist was the mason who built the studio, as well as others for Nicola D’Ascenzo and Walker Hancock.

Lilian Westcott Hale was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1881, and studied art there for several years. She then came to Boston, at the insistence of Edmund Tarbell, on a scholarship to work under Tarbell at the Museum of Fine Arts school. She had always been surrounded by people working with art, for her grandmother taught watercolor painting in Miss Pearson’s School for Girls in Litchfield. Her father was a draftsman who put her on his knee and drew figures and heads for her entertainment.

Philip Hale was teaching at a school in Boston where he eventually met Lilian Westcott. They were married when she was nineteen. He was the son of Edward Everett Hale, and Ellen Day Hale’s nephew. Their daughter was the late Nancy Hale, author, wife of Professor Fredson Bowers of Charlottesville, Virginia, who used to come to stay and write at the studio in the summer.

When asked about her work, Lilian Hale would turn the conversation to her husband’s endless patience, and how he always encouraged her. When he arrived home after a day’s teaching, he was interested to see what she had painted. She said, “He had humor and kindliness.”

At one time Lilian Hale studied for a while with William Merritt Chase at Hills Summer School, Shinnicock, Long Island. She found this teacher instilled in her an enormous amount of confidence and inspiration. She greatly admired the famous artist Cecelia Beaux, who also lived on Cape Ann. Lilian characterized her as “a very handsome and vital woman.”

Lilian Hale’s first exhibit was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, followed by an exhibit with her husband at the Copley Society in Boston. Her first important award was a bronze medal for her painting, “The Fortune Teller” in 1910 shown at the exposition in Buenos Aires. Her canvas “Lavender and Old Ivory” won an award in 1915, &id a work entitled “When She Was a Little Girl” won the Potter Palmer Gold Medal and a money prize from the Art Institute of Chicago.

The portrait she particularly enjoyed doing was of Taylor Scott Hardin, a Folly Cove summer resident, for “he had a very bony structure, was very picturesque in his riding outfit, and he loved to pose.” In 1927 Lilian Hale won the much coveted National Academy’s First Altman Prize, including $1,000, with the Hardin portrait. In 1931 she became an Academician of the National Academy of Design.

Lilian Westcott Hale was noted for her paintings of children, and among them were many of her daughter. The artist was praised for “excellent draftsmanship” with a “carefully thought-out design.” She did portraits of many women as they posed close to a window, or in winter, worked on snow scenes observed from her upstairs room. During her last years, after Philip Hale died, she lived in Virginia with her daughter, Nancy Hale, and her son-in-law. Lilian died in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 7,1963.

When the women of the Folly Cove art colony would meet over a cup of tea, one of the little stories they never tired of relating was how all had submitted paintings to an upcoming show in Rockport. They were later speechless to hear that Lilian Westcott Hale’s painting had been rejected by a jury. She was one of the few women national academicians exhibiting. So they all withdrew memberships, paintings, support and looked to Gloucester for their future activities. At that time, emphasis was being put on the new art, that “blobby garish type that hit the art world in the early thirties.” But even at East Gloucester artists became divided over traditional versus modern art, resulting in two separate groups there. But the support of North Shore Arts Association by the Folly Cove artists has helped keep it in existence today.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - GABRIELLE deVEAUX CLEMENTS

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

One of the first artists to appreciate strong contrasts and angles of light in a Cape Ann granite quarry was Gabrielle deVeaux Clement, born in Philadelphia in 1858 and died in 1949. She had met Ellen Day Hale when both were studying under Bouguereau in Paris in 1882. Miss Clements favored etching as her medium.

In Harper’s Weekly, March 1885, to illustrate an article Miss Hale wrote, the Folly Cove etcher has two scenes: “On the Way to the Quarries,” showing a heavy wagon being drawn up by oxen from a distant wharf. The illustration most familiar is “The Derrick,” also an etching, presented full page. It was sketched at Flat Ledge quarry, Pigeon Cove, while quarrymen loaded a huge granite block on a garymander wagon. Oxen stood ready to tug it off to the dock at a flick of the driver’s whip.

In 1895 Miss Clements won a prize in Philadelphia for her painting of a granite quarry. She had stayed at the fashionable Fairview Inn in East Gloucester during the summers of 1881, 1883 and up until 1892, skipping a season or two when she traveled with Miss Hale.

During the 1924 annual exhibit of the Gloucester Society of Artists, Miss Clements presented: “The Herring Fleet,” “Home from the Banks,” “The Return,” and “Square Rigged,” all etchings and all probably done while at the Fairview, so close to the harbor.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

Gurdon Saltonstall Worcester, psychologist and inventor, “found” his quarry pit while a college student. When he married Natalie Shipman in 1934, he ordered a summer home there, the first prefabricated house in the village. Andrew Pistenmaa, a neighbor, did the stonework, finishing it in 1936, and Louis Palelli, the carpentry.

Mr. Worcester majored in English at Harvard and ran a newspaper, The Roxbury Tribune, for a while. Then he decided he was much more concerned with people’s emotions and how they cause illness, prompting him to join his father, the Reverend Dr. Elwood W. Worcester of Emanuel Church in Boston, helping the mentally ill through psychotherapy.
About 1940 Mr. Worcester opened his own office at 3 Marlborough Street in the Back Bay section of Boston. But he and Natalie came to Lanesville in the summertime, entertaining their friends with outdoor concerts beside the quarry, and “modern” cocktail parties.

Mr. Worcester loved the unusual, the exciting and the thrill of astounding others as he did the day he fired off a rocket he had invented. Wreathed in trails of cigarette smoke, his brown eyes full of mischief, Mr. Worcester always had something happening. He had Mr. Palelli build a Chinese houseboat for him so he could float about in the quarry pit, feeding hamburger to his pet trout. In another pit across the driveway, he kept two sea lions, one named Tony. Sometimes, Tony wriggled through his fence, and then all High Street friends were called in to help search for him.

In the winter of 1962, with Natalie at the little portable on the kitchen table (she found the hum of electric typewriters intimidating), Gurdon Worcester dictated his children’s book, The Singing Flute, the story of Hilli, a Finnish girl who lived on the edge of Dogtown, Gloucester’s deserted village. He loved every new adjective and word just coming into use such as “panache.” As he dictated, his words flowed in beautiful prose with dozens of descriptive phrases as he paced back and forth across the wide kitchen. Silently, Natalie edited in Yankee efficiency as he talked, knowing he would like the end result. They knew each others’ literary skills so well.

Gurdon Worcester was a person with great charm, who always greeted people down at the grocery store with as much warmth as anyone of his friends from Beacon Hill.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - VIRGINIA LEE BURTON, Author, Illustrator

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

Virginia Lee Burton (Jinnee) set out on many phases of a career in the arts and succeeded in all of them except ballet dancing. She had her own studio at home at Folly Cove where she did all the illustrations for her children’s books such as Choo Choo in 1935, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, 1939; Calico, the Wonder Horse and Katy and the Big Snow, written especially with credit to the Gloucester Highway Department. Her book Maybelle, the Cable Car, 1952, is read and reread in San Francisco, particularly since Miss Burton went there to help publicize the cable cars when funds were needed to restore them, as they are now again.

Miss Burton was always the dancer, even when walking from the studio to her house. She had a particular grace of movement and she wore full skirts as though she might slip off her shoes any minute and dance in the daisy strewn fields.

When folk dancing first became popular, Jinnee and her husband, George Demetrios, began to teach their friends at their farm, sometimes at the Manship home and on the lawn at the Nortons on Revere Street.

In 1938 Jinnee organized a small group for a sketching class which she taught, then began guiding them in the technique of linoleum block printing, creating designs from simple objects such as beach grass, Cape Ann birds, a Saturday night bean supper or a quarry locomotive. This group became the famed Folly Cove Designers, eventually selling their hand blocked fabrics to such famous department stores as Lord and Taylor in New York City. They used to stamp on blocks with their bare feet, but progressed to a printer’s proof press capable of taking larger blocks, offering a greater range of design as well as being faster.

Jinnee Burton’s first pupil was Aino Yjrola Clarke who gave violin lessons to the Demetrios boys in exchange. Aino designed fabrics with musical motifs such as Instrument! Antiqua, 1959; Musicale, 1950, and Fiddle Dee Dee, 1951.
Miss Burton’s own designs were many, ranging from Kitnip, Ocelot, Reducing, Stitch in Time, Finn Hop, 1943; Finnish Dancers, Dance of the House, 1956; to Farmer’s Almanac, Little House, Spring Lambs 11, Zodiac, Zaidee, Choo Choo, Commuting and Early Bird, 1965. Her first large class in the summer of 1940 had fifteen students, the final number of designers, forty-five.’

One of the social events of the summer was the Finnish-style coffee social and exhibit by the Folly Cove Designers in the renovated barn purchased by Jinnee Demetrios. The Finnish custom of putting the “coffee pan” on when a guest arrives is just the opposite to the established Yankee way of offering a cup of tea as one’s guest announced her departure. (Of course, it was a matter of polite timing.) During a large coffee social, people came to the table in groups by turns, allowing time for the hostess to wash cups and saucers and slice more nisu coffee bread.

After Jinnee’s death, the Barn and Folly Cove Designers came to an end, October 1969. Block printed material representing every design was given to the Cape Ann Historical Association for a permanent exhibit.

Virginia Lee Burton was born on August 30, 1909, in Newton Center, Massachusetts, daughter of an Englishwoman, who was a poet and musician, and Dean Burton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of her earliest memories was of Maypole dancing and celebrating Twelfth Night with costumes and singing. Her parents also put on marionette shows for Jinnee and her sister and friends. At Christmas, her father always gave her a beautifully illustrated children’s book. She said her interest in such books must have begun then.

When Jinnee was eight, the family moved to California where she and her sister studied dancing, and appeared in local productions. She wanted to go to art school and won a scholarship while a junior in high school. She traveled to San Francisco by train, ferry and cable car, passing commuting hours by sketching her fellow passengers.
In 1928 she returned to Boston to join her father and also to resume her studies in acrobatic dancing so she could appear with her sister on the stage. She had to give up her plans, however, when her father broke his leg, and her care was required. So, undaunted, she turned to sketching. She worked on the old Boston Transcript, sketching for H.T. P. (Parker), famous drama and music critic, and signed her drawings “VLeeB.”

It was in the fall of 1930 that she heard about George Demetrios, a great teacher of sculpture and drawing. So she enrolled in his Saturday morning class at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts school. By spring they were married. Two sons, Michael and Aris (born in 1935) inspired her to write books for them. Her book, Life Story, particularly in the last section, tells the tale of the little family at Folly Cove.

When Jinnee Burton started a book, she frequently completed sketches first, pinning them to the walls of her studio. Then she worked on the text, but put it off until last, even after she had, made up the dummy. She said, “If I can substitute pictures for words, I do. Each new book is a new experience, not only in subject material and research, but in learning a new medium and technique for the drawings.”

Her book about the little engine which ran away was written for Aris when he was four. He is now a sculptor living in California who has had his own work recognized nationally. Her son, Michael, is the subject of her book Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. In an attempt to take the two boys’ attention away from comic books, she did Calico, the Wonder Horse. In 1942 she won the Caldecott Medal for The Little House, which told of their own home and how they moved it into-a field with apple trees growing around. Her book Life Story took eight years to complete. At the same time she did design work, wrote and managed her home. But she was never satisfied with this book, and she died before it could be published.

Jinnee traveled to Japan two years before her death to speak at the American Cultural Center and to autograph her books just translated into Japanese. When she left for home, the children’s librarian and her committee presented her with two Samurai swords. The Folly Cove artist, designer and author left a priceless heirloom to her colleagues and for others to enjoy-the ability to observe their world more closely, note small detail and then as she taught them, work a design that shares with others the newly discovered treasures. Jinnee was certainly a remarkable woman.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Artists of Lanesville - MORRIS HALL PANCOAST, Painter

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

While most artists pack up their easels and paints and travel to sunny shores during the winter, Morris Hall Pancoast (1877-1963) was tucked into a little cottage on Andrews Street overlooking Lane’s Cove, painting snow scenes of Lanesville and Mr. Pancoast, a Quaker, never had financial backing for his art education. He was born in Salem, New Jersey on April 27, 1877. His father was a partner in the Salem Glassworks of Hall, Pancoast and Craven. Some years later, Mrs. Pancoast, then a widow, watched her son continually sketching in his free time, convinced he should be an architect. When he was sixteen, he worked odd jobs in Philadelphia, at the same time encouraged by a newspaper artist to study art seriously.

While the young student worked as a bookkeeper by day, he attended classes at Drexel Institute. Then he began night courses in 1897 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There he came under the influence of kindly Thomas Anshutz. At Fort Washington, where both lived, the two spent much time together until the teacher’s death in 1912.

Convinced at one point that he must study in Europe, the young Pancoast withdrew every cent from his bank account and sailed to Europe in 1902. By illustrating and writing he earned enough to stay three years, including study in Paris with Jean Paul Laurens the Julian School. Then he investigated all the art treasures and painters’ locations throughout France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and England. To return home, he had to borrow enough for his passage, but he quickly paid it back.

Mr. Pancoast and his wife, Minnie Laehy Baer, a concert singer, came to Lane’s Cove for the first time in 1920, and stayed at the Andrews Street cottage. They could view the entire Cove before them, including the Gap and granite breakwater. Mr. Pancoast was in fine spirits, for his first painting had been recognized and “The Pennsy Train Shed” had been purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts the season before.

Some years later, Mr. Pancoast had at least thirty-two paintings to his credit, twenty-eight were of Cape Ann and fifteen of those were of Lanesville and Lane’s Cove in particular. Once asked if he thought he had been influenced by French Impressionists, he said he doubted it for what he painted was probably “Pancoast Impressionism.”

In 1923 the artist told a friend, “It isn’t the thing you paint that makes your work poetic, it is the man who creates the thing. Twachtman could make poetry of a barn…”
Mr. Pancoast was painting from their next home on Beach Street, Rockport and Minnie was running the Studio Gallery by the Sea at the time of the stock market crash in 1929. Over a period of years, they kept selling their antiques, finally returning to Lane’s Cove as Minnie’s health worsened. She died in 1953. Mr. Pancoast’s last exhibit was in Concord, Massachusetts in 1957. He died on July 30, 1963, and his ashes were scattered to the winds and the sea from atop Lane’s Cove breakwater as he had wished.
Mr. Pancoast once said, “A painter need have no knowledge or love of nature in order to fake a snow scene or a vivid fall coloring. It is the painter who puts into his work the delicate truth which he has discovered through actual contact with the out-of-doors…”

More on
Morris Hall Pancoast, American, (1877-1963).

The paintings of Impressionist Morris Hall Pancoast are almost all peaceful New England shore scenes and winter landscapes, and they often have an expressionist freedom of brushwork, and an intensity of color. Cape Ann and Rockport, Massachusetts were his favorite locations, where this painting was likely executed.

Pancoast was born in Salem, New Jersey in 1877. His father was a partner in a Salem glassworks. Morris attended the Salem Friends' School and the Salem Public Schools, and for two years worked as a shipping clerk. A turning point came in 1895, when he took a job as a bookkeeper and assistant cashier with the "Philadelphia Public Ledger" newspaper.

He met illustrator Frederick R. Gruger, who encouraged him to study art. Despite his studies at night at Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pancoast felt frustrated. He was tired of his job at the paper, and he could not get work in an art department because of his inexperience.

In 1902, he took every penny he had out of the bank and went to Europe. At the Academie Julien in Paris, he studied with Jean Paul Laurens. By the end of three years, after travel throughout Europe, he returned to Philadelphia and got a job with the art department of the "Philadelphia Inquirer" from 1905 to 1907 and then the "North American" as a cartoonist from 1907 to 1919.

By the early 1920s, Pancoast and his wife had moved to New York City, where he worked as a freelance illustrator and painter, and he and his wife spent their summers in Rockport, MA where she ran their "Studio Gallery By the Sea".

Pancoast's career was launched. His work was shown at the Pennsylvania Academy, the Brooklyn Museum and at the National Academy of Design. This painting was exhibited at the National Academy in 1922.

After the stock market crash of 1929, however, the lives of the Pancoasts changed. For about 20 years, they wandered through Maine, Florida and Massachusetts, selling antiques. They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1945, and rented
a small house, which Pancoast used as a gallery and studio; his wife operated a tearoom and antique shop. He died in 1963.

Morris Hall Pancoast was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, Gloucester Society of Artists, North Shore Art Association, Pennsylvania Academy Society of Artists, Philadelphia Sketch Club and the Salmagundi Club.

His work is held by the J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Municipal Art League, Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia;
and the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery in Pennsylvania.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

As a side note, Morris Pancoast and his wife lived in the gray house right next to us here on Lanes Cove. directory