Around the time of the turn of the century, great political, economic and social changes allowed for the possibility and acceptance of the five-day work week and extended vacations. For Edward Henry Potthast, this increase in leisure time supplied subject matter which he painted over and over again, and among his favorites were outings at the seashore.
In Bathers in the Surf, Potthast has captured "the heat, color, and light, and the rhythm of the figures, the sky, the sand and the water" "(D. Smith-Hurd, Edward Henry Potthast [1857-1927]: An American Painter, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1994, n.p.) to create "almost a snapshot of a moment at the seashore" (Edward Henry Potthast: 1857-1927) Like so many of Potthast's seashore paintings, Bathers in the Surf is "a tribute to the carefree atmosphere of the seashore: happy children rollicking about, splashing in the surf, young mothers with children in their arms or beside their breeze-blown skirts, gossiping or strolling the beach; and family groups, picnicking, sunning themseves or chatting merrily on the sand beside gayly colored beach umbrellas." (Edward Henry Potthast: 1857-1927)
This painting will be included in Mary O'Connell's forthcoming catalogue raisonn of the artist's work.