Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965)
Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965)

The Bowdoin, Monhegan Island

Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965)
The Bowdoin, Monhegan Island
signed 'E.W. Redfield.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
26 x 32¼ in. (66 x 82 cm.)
Painted circa 1905-15.
D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc., New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, March 1987.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, William Penn Memorial Museum, Edward W. Redfield NA: 1869-1965 Retrospective Exhibition of the Work of the Great American Impressionist, Edward Willis Redfield of Pennsylvania, March 31-May 13, 1973, no. 23.

Lot Essay

In The Bowdoin, Monhegan Island Edward Redfield brings the blissful spirit of a beautiful summer afternoon. The famed schooner, The Bowdoin, is moored just outside the natural harbor formed by Monhegan and her sister island, Manana. He creates this moment in time with a characteristic flourish of brushwork and colors that convey the sparkling light and breezy atmosphere of the day. The historic 88-foot schooner, The Bowdoin, was Maine's official sailing vessel. She was built in 1921 at the Hodgdon Yard, now Hodgdon Yachts Inc., in East Boothbay, and was a symbol of strength for the citizenry, as she was constructed to withstand the perils of Arctic exploration and made no less than 28 trips above the Arctic Circle under the command of Donald B. MacMillan.

Beginning in 1903 Redfield spent his summers in Maine with his wife Elise and their young children. By then, areas of the state such as Monhegan and Boothbay Harbor had become popular summer resorts. Redfield was so taken with the beauty of Monhegan and its surroundings that he eventually bought a home in Boothbay for his family and spent almost every subsequent vacation in and around the area. The salt air, clear skies and brilliant hues of the terrain of this charming place inspired the artist to produce many jewel-toned paintings set in late spring and summer.

Like many of his contemporaries, Redfield studied in art schools at home and abroad. Following his training at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Anschutz, Redfield traveled to Paris to receive further instruction at the Académie Julian in the late 1880s. While at the Académie, Redfield traveled to the French countryside accompanied by Robert Henri. There, in the forest of Fontainebleau, he began painting en plein air in the cold of winter, commencing a life-long preference for painting outdoors. Redfield's experiences in the French countryside instilled in him a deeper understanding of composition, and prompted him to develop a more personal approach to painting.

His bright, Impressionist palette and spontaneity of paint surface that Redfield began to develop abroad is clearly evident in The Bowdoin, Monhegan Island. Thick strokes of paint have been quickly yet deftly applied to the canvas. Viscous dashes of verdant green grass and trees on the shore are juxtaposed with the rich blue water that encompasses a great portion of the composition. The contrasting horizontal mast and rigging of The Bowdoin lends a picturesque element to the scene.
So adept was Redfield at applying Impressionist techniques, one critic remarked that "among the men who have done the most to infuse an authentic note of nationalism into contemporary American Art, Edward Redfield occupies a prominent position. He is the standard bearer of that progressive group of painters who are glorifying American landscape painting with a veracity and force that is astonishing the eyes of the Old World." (as quoted in J.N. Lauvrik, Edward Redfield: Landscape Painter, New York, 1910, p. 29)

This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Edward Redfield's work being compiled by Dr. Thomas Folk.

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