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.


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