Portrait of Place at Cape Ann Museum


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Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Autumn Landscape, 1940, Gouache on illustration board, Collection of Lawrence A. Rand and Tiina Smith. (Image 2023 Heirs of Stuart Davis / Licensed by Artists Rights Society, NY)


This weekend the Cape Ann Museum will open Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester, an intimate exhibition of paintings and photographs that  illustrate the city’s significant artistic influence on Davis.

The exhibition, which will be displayed in the center of the Fitz Henry Lane gallery, is being presented with the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.  The exhibit will be on view now through October 16.

Davis first visited Gloucester in the summer of 1915 at the invitation of fellow painter John Sloan. He wrote that the city “…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.” Sloan moved on to other locations to paint after 1918 while Davis continued to return to Gloucester for many years.

“Stuart Davis’s resonate responses to Gloucester and Cape Ann illuminate how this singularly unique and inspiring place shaped artists in the early 20th Century,” said Oliver Barker, Cape Ann Museum Director. “The Museum is thrilled to share these works with audiences in the city that stimulated their creation and remains indebted to Davis’s family for their generosity in providing access to archival materials and photographs which bring this time period so vividly to life.” 

Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester is the third exhibition to be shown within the galley and in juxtaposition with the suite of spaces that the Museum has dedicated to Fitz Henry Lane’s work.  Lane, a Gloucester native son, also noted the city’s “topographical severity” in the landscape, working as a printmaker in Boston for several years before then returning to the city in the late 1840s. Lane preceded Davis by over 50 years, and interestingly both artists explored the area with paper and pencil before returning to their studios to paint, based on their drawings.

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

In connection with the exhibition, a 14-page catalog has been published by the Museum, it is available for purchase in the Museum shop for $5 and includes an essay by Martha Oaks, Chief Curator. 

Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester and an accompanying lecture, Stuart Davis's Gloucester: The Pungent Aroma of Oil Paint, Fish Cakes, and Glue presented by John X. Christ, Plymouth State University on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at 2 p.m. are part of the Cape Ann Museum’s contribution to Gloucester’s 400+ Anniversary, marking 400 years since English colonizers first attempted to settle here. Over the course of this year, the Museum is presenting a wide variety of exhibitions and events that both celebrate the best of Cape Ann and acknowledge the important and complex history of this place stretching back more than 10,000 years.

Portrait of a Place: Stuart Davis in Gloucester runs concurrently to Edward Hopper & Cape Ann Illuminating an American Landscape, the first-ever major exhibition devoted to Hopper's Gloucester years, which opened on July 22, and runs through October 16.

cape ann museum, precisionism, modern painters, gloucester, massachusetts, stuart davis, fitz henry lane, cape ann, edward hopper, john sloan, provincetown, artists rights society, oliver barker