top of page

John Fulton Folinsbee


Gallery Database:


John F. Folinsbee (1892-1972). "Maine Cove,"  oil on masonite, 16 x 24, signed. A Chewonki label in the

painter's hand is attached to the stretcher. See Kirsten

Jensen, catalogue raisonee, no. 560.


Curator's Comment:

Folinsbee's  painting came with an attached Chewonki label in his hand, and that locale is now a land trust and nature conservancy of more than three hundred acres, preserving some of the most beautiful rocky coves of the Maine Coast near Wiscasset. Folinsbee summered nearby at the crossing called Murphy's Corner. But he is more  identified with both the New Hope school of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and the Connecticut painters based in Old Lyme. He maintained close relationships with Birge Harrison of the Connecticut School and with Garber and Redfield in New Hope. He also worked under John Fabian Carlson of the Cape Ann painters and painted in Maine with both Bellows and Luks, who often left their New York circle to paint at Monhegan.  Folinsbee was also close with his son-in-law the architect Peter G. Cook,  author of the major study of the painter. Beginning in 1935, Folinsbee summered regularly in Maine. He went first to Montsweag, but in 1949, he  bought the house at Wiscasset's Murphy's Corner, where he painted for the next twenty summers. Exposure to the rugged coast and the dark, cold seas opened up a new area of interest for Folinsbee, and he returned to seascapes. He was influenced at a darker level, some think, by the two tragic events of his childhood, both associated with water: His brother drowned after diving into shallow water, and a week later, he was stricken with polio while swimming, leaving him wheelchair-bound.  


Now a nature preserve


The artist, ca. 1938


The long cove at Chewonki

Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1892, John Fulton Folinsbee began his artistic training with Jonas Lie in 1907. From 1912 through 1914, he attended the Art Students League summer sessions in Woodstock, New York, where he studied landscape painting with Birge Harrison and John Fabian Carlson. In 1914, he attended the school's main campus in New York City, where he studied with Frank DuMond. He became a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1928 and also held memberships in the Allied Artists of America, the Salmagundi Club, and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. Folinsbee is another of our artists with two works in the Smithsonian. Other paintings are in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery, the Phillips Collection, the Pennsylvania Academy of  Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, among many others.  Folinsbee was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Isadore Prize, Salmagundi Club, 1920;  the First Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design, 1923; the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1931; the First Altman Prize, National Academy of Design, 1941 and 1950. When Folinsbee won the Palmer Marine Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1951, he joked, "Now that I've won a marine prize, I might as well become a marine painter." He was being ironic because long before his summers in Maine, he had started his career on the Delaware coast, where he depicted shad fisherman at work. His brilliance is linked with the evolution of post-Impressionism in America. Folinsbee helped transform the impressionist palette with his bold use of black values, which supports the Asian thrust of his near abstract brushwork. But Folinsbee doesn't give up the image at the same time that he reveals its power.The whole is reminiscent of America's greatest watercolorist, John Marin. And Marin too favored the Maine coast summer after summer, though he worked more to the north at Cape Split whose rugged tides number in the world's most powerful.The cove at Chewonki shows us Folinsbee at his best, and we are very proud to offer this work. 

bottom of page