Also signed, titled and dated on the reverse
Oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Mr. and Mrs. David R. Wintermann
Gift from the above to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1985
Although George Luks is often associated with gritty urban scenes, he never limited himself to painting solely within the confines of the city. Luks painted when and wherever he was inspired, creating some of his best works outside of the urban environment.
In 1922, Luks spent a period in Maine to relax and paint its vast coastline. He was delighted with the natural beauty that the Maine landscape offered and his enthusiasm is reflected in a quote for a Portland newspaper:
Talk about the chalk cliffs at Cornish, talk about the wonderful scenery anywhere in Europe, Maine has it over them. Here you have that wonderful grey that is found only in such climates as that of Maine and your rocks and shores are so rugged and bold that they make other rocks and shores seem pretty puny in comparison; and your characters, there are real American types here – types that you find nowhere else…. I intend to paint them in all their strength and ruggedness and shall be happy as a king for I shall find plenty here with which I can work. (1)
Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine was painted during this exhilarating period in Maine and it reflects Luks’ interest in his rugged surroundings and the local figures who made it their home. Luks’ dynamic brushwork in Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine lends itself to rendering the rocky coast and turbulent seas of the North Atlantic. The energy of the landscape is further emphasized through the painting’s composition, which highlights strongly contrasting colors and elements of movement.
Luks’ bold rendition of the Maine coast in Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine surely places him in the esteemed company of several other American artists, such as Rockwell Kent and George Bellows, who also found inspiration in the Maine landscape.
1. Qtd. in Stanley Cuba, “George Luks (1866- 1933): A Biography” in George Luks: An American Artist (Exh. cat., Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes College, 1987), p. 39).