Boothbay Harbor, Spring is a dazzling example in which Edward Redfield brings out in his painting the blissful spirit of a beautiful spring afternoon along the water's edge. He presents this moment in time with a characteristic flourish of brushwork and vibrant colors that convey the essence of the day.
In 1903 Redfield began to spend summers in Boothbay Harbor, Maine with his wife Elise and their young children. By then the village, which had been known for its shipbuilding and fishing industries, had become a popular summer resort. Redfield was so taken with the town that he eventually bought a home there for his family and spent almost every subsequent vacation in and around the village. The breezy, clear skies and brilliant colors of this charming and picturesque place inspired the artist to produce many jewel-toned paintings set in late spring and summer.
Like many of his contemporaries, Redfield studied at 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 Academie Julian in the late 1880s. While at the Academie, 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. It was during these early years that he established his niche as a "one go" artist, saying, "I go into the field with my 50 pounds of equipment and a 50 x 56 canvas, and do not leave until I have completed my work." (as quoted in J.M.W. Fletcher, Edward Willis Redfield 1869-1965: An American Impressionist, His Paintings and the Man Behind the Palette, Lahaska, Pennsylvania, 1996, p. 1)
His bright, Impressionist palette and spontaneity of paint surface which Redfield began to develop abroad is clearly evident in Boothbay Harbor, Spring. Thick strokes of paint have been quickly yet deftly applied to the canvas. Viscous dashes of verdant green grass and trees and bright pink buds enliven the composition with the arrival of spring. Contrasting horizontal and vertical touches of paint emphasize the vitality of the scene and reinforce his main subject, the renewal of seasons.
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, p. 29)
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Edward Redfield's work being compiled by Dr. Thomas Folk.