John Joseph Enneking
John Joseph Enneking (1841 -1916). " Gloucester Nocturne," oil on artist board, 8 1/2 x 14 1/2, signed. Pierce Gallery catalogue raisonnee label attached.
HIS NOCTURNE FROM VENICE TO GLOUCESTER!
Enneking was the first to achieve the rare fusion of Corot's Barbizon school and Monet's Impressionism, and to do so in a uniquely American manner that grows out of Tonalism but flowers with Impressionistic light that is all his own. It is no wonder to us that critics say his canvases look as if they were painted with afterglow, as here, where the moon is seen to rhapsodize with the yellow-tinted harbor lights in rippling reflection. Our image hardly does justice to one of Enneking's most beautiful compositions--a real stunner when one visually comprehends the brushwork. The harbor lights act to signal the eye to the thin band of moorings that in turn gives way to the night sky with magnificent cloud effects. In 1972, the first biography of the artist was written and published by Patricia Jobe Pierce, who is the source of the artist's Catalogue Raisonnee, which includes the above work. A Pierce Gallery label affixed to the verso indicates her registry of what is one of the rare nocturnes a la Whistler amongst Enneking's oeuvre, and a small gem of a painting in every regard.
After studying in France, Enneking returned to Boston in 1876, and quickly rose to the status of one of New England's most prominent landscape artists, and we think it fitting that Whistler is his inspiration in this work. The Pierce biography, of which we own an inscribed copy, portrays Enneking as more worldly than was previously thought. He spent more time in Europe, and painted two nocturnes set in Venice. Back in Boston, he thoroughly enjoyed and participated in his role as Parks Commissioner. But most important is the picture of Enneking painting away in the White Mountains. He would take his bicycle and make a three-week circuit stopping at whatever inn he reached, and then hiking on to a new location for painting. A bear of a man himself, it is said that he encountered a black bear in the mountains and kept right on painting until the creature went its way. When he lost his way in the mountain mist, he stopped and painted it, revealing a subtlety that governs much of his work and summons the eye with powerful chiaroscuro. Once again the message is clear that the night can be seen, even as the day, which is exactly what Enneking means.