|American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Curator's Comments: We have acquired two of what we think are the best-ever of Gruppe's
(1896-1978) famous birch tree studies. The first set along the stream near Jeffersonville,
Vermont, where the artist did his winter work and the second--an even larger study--done on
the slopes of Mt. Mansfield that may be his single most important work. The first shows the
artist in a romantic mood--the second is realistic to the point of a rare use of impasto on the
slate of the mountainside that makes it come alive. (Our image does not nearly begin to show
the brushwork here.) Gruppe has written "Chin slope" on the stretcher to tell us he is
working on the trail to the highest peak of Mount Mansfield and nearing the tree line. His
birches are windswept and about to sail off like birds in flight--but the slates and their impasto
texture have locked them in place like flags signaling that snow is on the way. We have yet to
see any Gruppe' work that matches this for the intensity of its composition. Gruppe' was one
of America's most prolific painters. He himself records that he destroyed some 2,000
paintings and sketches. But his works are estimated at over 8,000, and that includes sketches
cannibalized from larger canvases, demonstration work for his extensive teaching (in the main
at his own Gloucester summer school), and partial works supporting his three books. Gruppe'
painted in three limited locations. He painted in Gloucester, in Jeffersonville in Vermont and
less so in Naples, Florida. Gloucester was the hub, and he even did the murals of the
Gloucester National Bank. Another factor complicating his output is his tendency to virtually
repeat his work from the same perspective, such as the wharf in Gloucester he favored or the
Gloucester Italian Docks. Keep in mind that he painted in Gloucester for 53 years. We have
seen many done from the exact same perspective. As Dave Nyhan writes: "The same
locations appear many times, even very similar versions of the same scene." The critical
point is that when Emile was bad he was sketchy--but when he was good--he was excellence
itself--as in the works we offer.
|"If you want exacting details in a painting, than you might as well look at a photograph. I make an
impression on a canvas and let one's imagination fill in the details. After all, I am creating a dream!"
--Emile A Gruppe'
| Birches By the Stream, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 25, Signed
On Mt. Mansfield, Oil On Canvas, 30 x 36, Signed
His commercial agenda probably kept him out of the National Academy, eventhough he won
competitions there and has works hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago and the White
House. As Nyhan notes: "He gave demonstrations and charged for admittance. He was a
showman from the first, and sold not only the painting he was working on but brushes and
other equipment as well. Once he even sold his hat." This according to observers was the kiss
of death to his desires to be admitted into the National Academy. While other artists were
very discrete in advertising, Emile, at a demonstration, would put his asking price on the back
of the canvas. He is said to have sold some canvases, even before he dabbed any paint on the
front. During the Great Depression, when the demand for original art virtually evaporated, he
turned to smaller pictures and reduced prices to get sales. He made no bones about it--he
wanted to sell you a picture! A Massachusetts physician with a summer home on Cape Ann,
told us that Gruppe would sell from a stack of small canvases, while painting a larger identical
work as he sat perched above the piers, attracting passerby customers.
|EMIL GRUPPE'S BIRCH TREES
ARE HIS VERY BEST!
Mount Mansfield, Vermont
Our offerings of Gruppe's wonderful Gloucester maritime views follows on the next page.
The Artist, ca. 30