HENRY B. SNELL is ever keeping abreast of the modern movement in art without for a moment losing his firm grasp of essentials. Few younger artists understand as he does the effect of light on quivering water and a wind-swept spit of land. Then, too, the staying quality of vertical lines and solid masses in his pictures make one feel that sincerity is a fundamental principle with him. How quickly “Backwater” (Fig. 191) awakens our memory of just such scenes along water fronts. The intimate colour caressing in turn the water-soaked logs, water-worn hulks, water-washed houses, water-denuded rocky hillsides, gives to the whole a delicious note of familiarity. Then the dull green of the foliage is a healthful undertone broadening the life of the homes. The men on the pier are an added note of good cheer to the constant swish of the confined water. How the tall, stark masts give a sense of freedom to the imprisoned crafts and how delight-fully their quivering shadows suggest possibilities lying in wait !
Mr. Snell was born in Richmond, England, in 1858, but he is an American by adoption and had his training at the Art Students’ League in New York City. He paints both landscapes and marines, and in the latter he usually keeps close to shore and the human side of life. He often represents boats near the shore delivering their products gathered from the sea. In one scene, “The Beach,” Mr. Snell shows us boats pointed seaward. The background is a level beach and beyond a broken low-lying rocky coast against a cloudy sky. The light breaking through catches the glint of the tumbled sand and water until the little fleet is radiant with the glory of it. Again boats are riding at anchor in an “Outer Harbour,” where they are protected from the dashing waters on the threatening rocks all aflame with a glorious light.
Another artist, a much younger man, who is showing us the glory of light on along shore scenes in Hayley Lever. In his “Boats at Gloucester” (Fig. 192) he gives in water colour an interesting picture of the water front of the old New England town. The fishing industry makes itself felt in the restless boats swaying and tugging at their moorings. How the crinkled shadows of the tall masts emphasise the sense of motion and how the bulging sails carry the impression of a stiff breeze sweeping seaward ! The tall church tower hints that the gabled houses peeping from their green setting has kept close to the welcoming centre of the home-coming of the sea-toilers.
The animated colour of this harbour scene is full of the exuberance of youth and gives one the impression that Mr. Lever revels in colour because it thrills him and he loves it. His success with a water colour medium in this picture is self-evident, yet the regret will come that it was not done in oil, where paint and can-vas are more permanent and lasting. We all admit that a good water colour picture is bet-ter than a poor oil painting, but paper, as we know it, very soon deteriorates.
When Cullen Yates painted this “Rock Bound Coast,” in the National Gallery, Washington, D. C. (Fig. 193), he certainly put the very spirit of desolateness into it. Stern, uncompromising, immovable are the attributes written on every line of the projecting rock, and yet the restless, uneasy, persistent wash of the waters is doing its work. Centuries may come and centuries may go and these two op-posing forces will continue to harass each other, always with the odds in favour of the dynamic power.
Mr. Yates deals with the very fundamentals of life. And how he makes us feel the elemental forces in his strong, straightforward lines ! His frank, simple, brush strokes tell the story of the Rock Bound Coast with the naiveté of a child. It is the work of one whose art speaks the truth and is understood by sage and rustic alike. Even to those who have never seen a rock bound coast this picture will bring a message of the ceaseless strife going on between land and water.
To give the very essence of the eternal struggle constantly at work is great art and Mr. Yates is doing that in his work. Whether he pictures rocks and sea, the river forcing its way through the land, or “A Crisp September,” he gives the sense of nature changing and of the working of forces within. Then there is al-ways a hopeful touch in the caressing atmosphere hovering over his colour notes, be they sombre or gay.
Mr. Yates was born in Bryan, Ohio, 1866. He was a pupil of William M. Chase, also of Leonard Ochtman. He studied in the École des Beaux Arts, Paris, but his art has always been peculiarly original and progressive.
Mr. Frederick J. Waugh, born in Bordentown, N. J., in 1861, was first trained in the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, Philadelphia, then studied in the Julien Academy, Paris. Many of his marines are scenes from the open sea where the restless blue waters meet the greenish sky and pink-edged clouds float above. The sense of infinity in these pictures is almost overwhelming. In the painting of “Sea and Rocks” (Fig. 194) Mr. Waugh has pitted opposing forces with a fine appreciation of what ceaseless onslaughts will accomplish. The terrible impact of the rushing water seems powerless against the solid defense, yet. the broken surfaces of the rocks, where the foam is quietly working its way back to the open sea, foretell the final victory of the offensive waters.
In no marines does the water reflect the blueness of the sky as in Mr. Waugh’s. We wonder at times if his blue glasses are not exaggerating. There is a delightful joyousness, however, in the frank blue surface of the water.
That Mr. Waugh’s perception of the unusual has led him into a strange wonderland is abundantly verified in his book, “The Clan of Munes” (Fig. 195), from which our illustration is taken. These queer little figures are fashioned from weather worn spruce tree roots that the artist picked up on the island of Monhegan when there painting marines. It is interesting to know the beginnings of the fantastic little beings so graphically described both in word and picture by the artist. He says, “I began seeing little people with queer, tall caps and then made careful drawings of roots and placed these little people near them, and by and by I began to think it would be a good plan to form a story or a series of stories about these drawings.” Certainly Alice never saw stranger antics in Wonderland than these of the grotesque little creatures performing under the spruce tree. The remarkable drawing and artistic arrangement of them make a pleasing picture; and the curious little beings have a fascination because of the constant revelation of hitherto undiscovered wonders. What an incentive to the inventive genius of children summering near the sea this Clan of Munes will be ! It ought to open their eyes to new possibilities in the drift wood where they can discover for themselves other members for the Clan of Munes.
Since Winslow Homer (see page 64) found the ocean a source of artistic inspiration many of our artists have followed in his train. Paul Dougherty, one of the younger men, is painting the varied moods of Neptune with keen appreciation of the old god. He not only understands the desolateness of the open sea under the fury of Neptune but his “Manana Point” (Fig. 196), Carnegie Public Library, Fort Worth, Texas, is just as drear, with its wild waste of waters. With what rush and swirl they lash the sturdy rocks at the point, and then defeated pour back to gather force for the next attack! The foam and roar of the water is like some wild beast lashed into impotent rage. And see how wonderfully the light plays upon the seething mass, until the whole is a sea of glory. Mr. Dougherty undertook a daring deed when he thought to fashion that stupendous onrush in paint, but he was equal to the task. The vibrations of light quiver and palpitate under his brush-strokes until the whole mass of water is ready to burst its bonds while we watch it; and then the sullen retreating mass glides back as though ashamed. The power in that tumult is tremendous – the spirit of the great deep is there.
Mr. Dougherty was born in Brooklyn in 1877 and first studied art in New York City. He then studied in Paris and went to London, Florence, Venice, and Munich and now lives in New York City.
A picture of nature in one of her changeable moods is “On the Rocks after the Storm”
(Fig. 197), Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, by Augustus Koopman (1869-1914). The storm has spent itself and the sunlight is bursting through and illuminating the scud-ding clouds and fast-running water. What a glorious light it is, too, and how it spreads itself from surf to whitecap! Mr. Koopman has captured the very magic of sunlight, and has fixed it on canvas in a radiance scarcely believable. The glory of the scene is such that not even the victims of the storm can mar it. What matters the storm, now that the clouds are smiling again?
Mr. Koopman was born in South Carolina, and after special training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Vine Arts, went to Paris. He received a number of medals from America and Europe, and his works are in many of our museums.